UK: Pub giants on yellow card from MPs
A committee of MPs has warned the UK's pub landlord companies to treat their tenants more fairly. In a report, the chairman of the Trade and Industry Select Committee, Martin O'Neill, told companies like Punch Taverns, Enterprise Inns, Wolverhampton & Dudley and Greene King that they must look to bring in a voluntary, industry-wide code of practice for new tenants to understand their situation.
"If we get a best code of practice we will not need external, statutory regulation," said O'Neill. "The industry is on a yellow card." Should nothing be done, legislation might be recommended."
The committee was keen to retain the beer tie, where tenants must buy their beer from the pub company. If the link was cut, the MPs said, companies would increase rents and tenants would not benefit from the discounts the companies offered.
On beer distribution, O'Neill warned of the brewers' "stranglehold".
"In the distribution market there is the strong possibility of anti-competitive consequences," the report said. "The market should be kept under close, regular scrutiny."
The companies broadly welcomed the report because the MPs found the market competitive, leaving the Office of Fair Trading with nothing to investigate.
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