Heineken has rejected claims that the Dutch brewer’s agreed acquisition of 182 Punch Taverns’ pubs in Scotland is anti-competitive and could deprive many drinkers of the country’s biggest selling lager, Tennent’s.
Tennent’s is estimated to be consumed by 70 per cent of Scottish drinkers, but is not stocked in Heineken’s existing 109 pubs in Scotland, where the brewer’s own brands average 85 per cent of consumption.
But a Heineken spokesman countered: “If this deal goes through it will increase (our estate) by 182 – so we will have about 300. This represents only 6 per cent of all pubs in the country.
“We have no 85 per cent rule – this is just the average of our own beers in our own pubs. On completion of the deal, we will introduce our brands only in collaboration with licensees to make sure that they all have the right products for their pubs. Sometimes we fully recognise that it makes sense to have competitor products on the bar.”
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has expressed “grave concerns” about the carve-up of 3,200 Punch pubs in the UK by the brewer and private equity partner Patron Capital Advisers in a £402 million takeover bid.
The SLTA said the deal would allow Heineken to control rival brewers’ route to market. On the talks Heineken has said it will hold with publicans on stocking Tennent’s, one opponent said: “That’s about as good as Kraft saying they weren’t going to close Cadbury factories ahead of that deal completing.”