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Greene King and Harveys

On 27 Feb 2014 at 7:48pm Beerman wrote:
I understand that a tied Greene King pub is not allowed to stock Harveys, even if the landlord wishes to. Can anyone confirm that this is so. If it is true, does anyone know how they can get away with this. It seems to contradict national and EU competition policy.
On 27 Feb 2014 at 9:46pm Mildmanneredchap wrote:
Revenge for 2007 Lewes Arms boycott? Trust Greede King to do the wrong thing!
On 27 Feb 2014 at 9:52pm Fairmeadow wrote:
Can confirm this, at least for the very successful Green Man in Ringmer. Mind you, they do stock 'Turners' which looks and tastes very familiar....
On 27 Feb 2014 at 10:26pm jackme off wrote:
I would rather drink dog p**s than Greene King beer!
On 27 Feb 2014 at 10:51pm Screaming J wrote:
Possibly there's a list of guest beers Greene King tenants can buy in, and Harvey's just isn't on that list? Which amounts to the same thing, I s'pose. I seem to remember after the boycott the Landlady of the Black Horse was very peed off that The Arms could order Harvey's, but she couldn't.
On 28 Feb 2014 at 11:00am GhostBike wrote:
GK houses used only to be able to sell their own beers, which range from the mediocre to the terrible.
As of a year or so ago, they allowed tenants to start buying guest beers from smaller local breweries that weren't seen as national competition - that's why Dark Star, Arundel, Turners and Long Man are all on round here, but not Harveys. In Kent I'd imagine you'd see local micros but not Shepherd Neame - etc etc.
Mind you GK pubs are generally horrible too. I've not been in one that I've really liked (except perhaps the one in Isfield).
On 28 Feb 2014 at 12:36pm Johnnied wrote:
Is the Black Horse still a GK pub? Since refubishment all mention of GK has dissapeared, along with most of their beers (hoorah!)
On 28 Feb 2014 at 3:01pm stevet wrote:
Black Horse is still GK, and the Laughing Fish is very nice too. Northern guy who works at the Black Horse once told me they don’t stock Harveys because too many people would drink it, and they wouldn’t turn over the other beers quick enough to be able to offer a large range.
On 28 Feb 2014 at 4:23pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
The previous landlady told me she wasn't allowed to stock Harveys, and as Screaming J says, she was none too pleased about it.
GK took Harveys out of all the former Beards' pubs, including the Laughing Fish and the one at North Chailey. I was told by a publican that as existing tenants left and new tenancies were issued, the incoming tenants were required to buy only "approved" beers, and that didn't include Harveys.
I was also told that in the Lewes Arms, after the Great Restoartion of Harveys, even former Abbot drinkers wouldn't drink it, and they sold less Abbot after the boycott than before.
If there is no sign of the Horse being a GK pub, it is probably because GK know that that is the kiss of death to a pub in Lewes. They have gone undercover!
On 28 Feb 2014 at 5:08pm GhostBike wrote:
The Royal Oak and the Lamb are also GK pubs.
On 1 Mar 2014 at 12:50am Tony@TheSnowdrop wrote:
Greene King houses are generally tied for all beers (and wine, spirits & soft drinks too in many cases). This means that everything has to be purchased through them at prices that are often double the usual wholesale price. In recent years, they have introduced a few local beers to their guest beer list after heavy petitioning from licensees.
A few years ago they introduced their 'Local Heroes' agreement whereby some licensees could source half of their cask ales from local microbreweries approved by GK (no Harveys!) in return for paying them 6 per cent of turnover. The Black Horse & the Laughing Fish are on this deal. Local Hero pubs have to stock as many GK beers as guests (which can result in a lot of wastage!).
The anti-competitive practices of large pub companies like Punch, Enterprise & GK have been responsible for driving thousands of publicans into bankruptcy and currently result in 26 pubs closing a week.
After repeated recommendations from four select committee enquiries, the government has finally resolved to regulate the industry and tackle the abuses of the large pub companies but there are powerful lobbying interests in the Treasury that seem to be holding up the process. If the regulation succeeds, tenants of the big six pubcos will have the option to source beer from wherever they want and a fair market rent. This would result in a huge increase in the number of locally brewed beers available in thousands of pubs and the opportunity for licensees to earn a decent income for their hard work (80 per cent currently earn less than £15,000 pa and 57 per cent earn less than £10,000 pa and those earnings are frequently split between couples).
I'm very pleased that we bought the Snowdrop as a freehouse after Punch very nearly destroyed it but Dom and I ran a couple of Greene King pubs for 12 years - and came extremely close to losing everything we had, including the Snowdrop, in the process. That's why we've been involved in the campaign to get this industry that we love properly regulated.
I'd urge everyone to support your local pubs as much as possible. They may be far more vulnerable than you realise!
On 1 Mar 2014 at 6:30am Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
Very interesting post Tony, and I'm delighted to hear that moves are afoot to change things. I very much hope they succeed.
I hope it will also put a stop to the condition in many pub tenancies where the rent rises in stages as takings improve. A tenant who manages to turn round a failing pub can often find that the price of their success is a huge increase in rent, so they end up handing a big chunk of the extra income back to the brewery. So unfair.
Is Norman supportive of these moves, do you know, or is he protecting his Tory masters' friends in the big breweries?
On 1 Mar 2014 at 8:35am Sussex Jim wrote:
The best thing the drinker can do is support CAMRA (campaign for real ale), which actively lobbies against the unfairness in the brewing industry. The membership is £25; and some pubs give a discount to members on real ales. A 5% discount on a £3.30 pint means you only need drink three pints a week to break even.
On 1 Mar 2014 at 5:45pm Beerman wrote:
Thank you Tony. I hope the regulation succeeds. From my understanding of UK and EU competition law it should happen as it is a clear restriction of competition as it stands at present.
On 2 Mar 2014 at 4:14pm Tipex wrote:
Isn't Beermans suggestion the same as insisting that Ford dealerships must also sell Hondas?
On 2 Mar 2014 at 4:42pm huw wrote:
Tipex, it may seem a bit like that but that's far from the truth.
It's more like renting a house and your landlord insisting that you get your electric, gas and water from them and then the price increasing well above inflation every year.
At the same time your landlord lets you get internet connection, but won't allow you to have broadband only dial up.
That's what running a tied pub can feel like.
I know I signed a contract and went in with eyes more open than most but when a pub co is taking something in the region of £120,000 from you a year and you are taking home nowhere near that amount you start to feel like you are getting a raw deal.
On 2 Mar 2014 at 5:02pm Tony@TheSnowdrop wrote:
Annette, that's exactly what happened to us. The rent on one of our GK pubs went from £25,000 to £79,000, plus 10 per cent of turnover in 12 years. It only takes a small drop in turnover when rent is so high for the pub to make a huge loss for the tenant but the pub company will not usually release him/her from their trading obligations until they go bankrupt.
Norman Baker, Simon Kirby (Con) & Caroline Lucas (Green) have all been very supportive of moves to regulate the industry. The Labour Party supports the proposed legislation as party policy. the leading campaigner on the issue in Parliament has been Greg Mulholland (Lib-Dem) but an number of Tory & Labour MPs have also stood out. I would also say that Norman & Simon Kirby have both been very supportive of us in our specific situation with Greene King and I'm sure are just as willing to assist other licensees where they can. The issue has very broad cross-party support in Parliament but the main opposition seems to be Andrew Griffiths, MP for Punch Taverns, oops, Burton-On-Trent, Brandon Lewis, Pubs Minister, and George Osborne.
Sussex Jim, you are absolutely right, CAMRA has been a key player in this campaign and, as a member, I would also encourage others to join & get involved.
Unfortunately Beerman, I agree with your analysis but the beer tie has been declared exempt from European Competition Law (crazy, I know!) so we do need Parliament to act on this one.
Tipex, the majority of tied pubs in this country are unbranded and owned by companies with no brewing interests, and have not the slightest interest in whether licensees sell Fosters, Carlsberg or lighter fuel, just as long as they take the biggest slice of the profits. Then there are the likes of Greene King and Marstons, who no longer have any long-term plans for their tied estates and are merely copying the worst excesses of the pubcos while they can and squeezing their tenants for everything they can get so they can invest the proceeds in growing their managed chain divisions where they believe the future lies. They already stock beers by plenty of other brewers. In one of our GK pubs we had to purchase Dark Star's Hophead at twice the price we could get it on the open market, but then Wetherspoons were profitably selling GK IPA at a lower price to the public than we had to pay for it wholesale, so massively inflated costs to their tenants were no surprise.
Where your anology is relevant is in the case of the regional breweries like Harveys for whom their tied estates are their principle routes to market. That is why breweries that own under 500 pubs are specifically excluded from the proposed regulation so small brewers have nothing to fear and a whole new market to gain if this legislation goes through.
Cheers all!
On 2 Mar 2014 at 6:04pm Clifford wrote:
One of the most interesting and informative threads on here for some time. Just goes to show what happens when you have people who know what they're talking about.
On 4 Mar 2014 at 7:58am Guppy wrote:
Great thread, thanks to everyone for contributing.
On 5 Mar 2014 at 10:53am Simon Smewing wrote:
Am I right in thinking that the business rates also go up with turnover?

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Chapel Hill Lewes 20:132
Chapel Hill Lewes

I recently ran into a bit of a dilemma at my shop and thought my experience might be helpful for anyone in a similar situation.... more
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