Heineken has hit back at concerns from Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), over its £305m bid to acquire Punch Tavern’s 1,900-strong ‘Punch A’ pub estate.
When the deal was announced in December, SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson, said the body feared the deal would lead to a ‘monster-tie’, reducing competition and choice.
Heineken issued its retort through the Scotsman newspaper yesterday, with an open letter penned by Star Pubs & Bars managing director, Lawson Mountstevens.
It reads: ‘Of the 4,900 pubs in Scotland, we currently own just over 100 – that’s 2%. If our offer is successful, this would increase to just 6%, far from making us the monster that the SLTA says we would become.’
The company said it has invested £2 million in its Scottish pubs in 2016, in addition to a further £5m spent over the last three years. The money has been used to add and improve kitchen facilities at sites, and help licensees adapt to the changing market, he said.
‘The results are nothing short of transformational,’ Lawson added. ‘Both our licensees and customers of the Fork & Field in Livingston, The Jolly Botanist and the recently opened Barrelhouse Bar & Grill in Edinburgh will attest to that.
‘We would be happy to show the SLTA around these great pubs or invite them to our Edinburgh HQ to meet some of the 550 people we employ in Scotland. Or to come and see our historic Caledonian Brewery where we brew award-winning beers.
‘The SLTA highlights the important £1.6 billion contribution that brewing and pubs make to the economy. We agree, and Heineken is proud that we contribute approximately £370m of that value to Scotland.’
Heineken added that its market share in Scotland’s pubs is less than half that of the largest producer, C&C Group.