UK: Molson Coors chief seeks Chancellor tax meeting

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The chief executive of Molson Coors' UK division is calling for a meeting with the Chancellor following the 2% increase in beer duty in yesterday's (22 April) Budget.

Mark Hunter said the industry's Axe the Tax campaign did and "excellent job" highlighting the problems that increasing beer duty has caused for UK jobs and pubs, but said that the outcome of the Budget was "extremely disappointing". 

"We fully appreciate that the credit crunch has put enormous pressure on Government's finances but recent increases in beer duty are failing to generate the revenue that the Treasury expects," Hunter said.

Hunter called for a review of the duty system and said he will be writing to Chancellor Alistair Darling asking for meetings to see "how this might be achieved".

Up to 39 pubs are closing their doors for good every week, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

In March, Hunter told an analysts' meeting in New York that UK pub closures were "no bad thing" for the industry.

"These are pubs from a period in history where their proposition is no longer relevant, where we've changed from an industrial society to more of a service industry," he said.

Following the Chancellor's Budget Speech yesterday, The BBPA accused Darling of "signing the death warrant" of the pub sector.

The Scotch Whisky Association pointed out that, seeing as Darling also predicted that the retail price index would be -3% in September this year, the "real terms" tax rise on drink is 5%.

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