Scottish pubs trade group unhappy with Heineken's Punch offer

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has criticised Heineken's offer to sell a string of pubs to try to address competition concerns over its £403 million takeover of Punch Taverns.
The competition watchdog is examining Heineken's swoop on Punch Taverns. Picture: Ian GeorgesonThe competition watchdog is examining Heineken's swoop on Punch Taverns. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The competition watchdog is examining Heineken's swoop on Punch Taverns. Picture: Ian Georgeson

It came after the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) said it would look at the brewing giant’s proposal to offload pubs in each location that could see the deal affect competition and see drinkers face higher prices.

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The competition watchdog had identified 33 areas of concern across Britain, but said that Heineken’s proposals, or a modified version of them, “might be acceptable to remedy the competition concerns it has identified”.

The CMA will now undertake a public consultation and decide by 22 August whether to refer the merger for an in-depth investigation.

It has previously said the 1,895 Punch pubs being snapped up by Heineken only account for 4 per cent of the market and are therefore “not a major route to market for brewers”.

However, SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson said that Heineken’s offer “may well tick a box where competition is concerned, but it does nothing to address the significant list of issues voiced by the industry when this merger was announced”.

The SLTA has predicted the tie-up would trigger higher prices for consumers and pub landlords, job losses and pub closures.

Waterson added: “We would urge the CMA to look deeper into the matter and launch an in-depth investigation… allowing this deal to go through would be a step back.”