Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry pubs 'threatened' by beer tie-ins

A former Coventry publican has warned more pubs in the city could close unless pub firms revise their prices.

Bob McGreevy is closing Butts Retreat in Spon End after 17 years. He was contracted to rent the premises and buy all his beer from Enterprise Inns. (EI)

Pint Sized trade magazine said beer tie-ins often charged between 50% and 100% more for beer than buying direct.

EI said tie-ins had outperformed free pubs in the recession and it had given Mr McGreevy extensive help to improve.

In Coventry up to 30 pubs have permanently closed in the past five years.

'Very bitter'

In 2009 pubs were closing across the country at a rate of 52 per week, the British Beer and Pub Association said.

Paul Moloney from Unison union said many pubs owned by pub companies had been set up with money borrowed from private equity firms.

"That debt is being passed onto customers and landlords and the landlords are being charged in excess of five times the rent valuation of the pub in some cases," he added.

Mr McGreevy is in the process of closing down and apologised to his customers for closing before Christmas.

He said: "I am very bitter. People are losing valuable community pubs that have existed for hundreds of years and are allowing this to happen in the name of profit."

"I don't believe they [Enterprise Inns] have given us a fair chance. We just can't compete with other operators," he added.

'Hit twice'

Sean Kilkenny said: "I've been drinking down here for the last 10 years there's a lovely crowd and it's a lovely little pub.

"What's happening is not very nice. You are breaking up a community really. There's nothing round here now."

Inez Ward, of Justice for Licensees, a campaign group with 420,000 members, said the tie-in could include the company's beer, spirits, wine and accountants.

She said in exchange for being made to buy only their products, publicans were meant to get cheaper pub rents.

"That's not happening. We are seeing more and more cases of licensees paying market level rents or more and also being charged double or more for their products, so they are being hit twice," Mrs Ward said.

A spokesman for EI said: "Tied pubs have been more successful in weathering the recession than free-of-tie pubs and we are receiving a record number of applications to take on pubs across the country. Sadly, there will always be individual cases where things do not work out."

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