War of words between Heineken and SLTA rumbles on

Claire Dodd

Claire Dodd

13 January 2017

The war of words continues between Heineken and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, over Heineken's proposed purchase of Punch Tavern's 'Punch A' estate.

After strongly criticising the £305m, 1,900-pubs deal, SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson has declined an invitation from Heineken, published in the Scotsman newspaper, to visit its estate and meet head office staff.

Waterson said: 'Whilst I appreciate the invitation from Lawson Mountstevens, the managing director of Heineken Star Pubs & Bars, to be shown around their premises, I must decline. I have spent every day of my working life in the Scottish licensed trade. I know it well and am dedicated to representing its best interests, without bias. Not everyone can say the same.'

Earlier this week Heineken said SLTA concerns that the deal would create a 'monster-tie', reducing competition and choice, were unfounded.

Waterson added: 'Heineken try to dismiss concerns about their bid for Taverns but their response so far does little to assuage the industry's growing fear.

'If Heineken's bid for Punch is successful, then they will then represent 6% of pubs in Scotland. And on first glance, that may seem like a small amount. This is actually 200% growth compared to their current position and a worrying indication of what's to come.

'Heineken are a global brewer, with very little regard for local relationships,' he added. 'Our greatest concerns are the barriers that Heineken will certainly put in place when it comes to other brewers. This will have a disastrous effect on consumer choice. The fact is that tied pubs remove £40m from the Scottish economy and 99% of tenants want protection against them.'

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