Talks between UK pub trade chiefs and campaign groups on a reform of the industry have been described as "encouraging".

The 'mediation' meeting held on Thursday (18 June) is one of many being co-ordinated by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) in an attempt to persuade MPs to give the pub trade six months to sort out issues over the pubco model.

The meeting is in response to criticism included in a Business & Enterprise Committee report into pubcos, and aims to find some middle ground between the opposing views.

Those in attendance included anti-pubco campaigners Fair Pint and Inez Ward's Justice for Licensees, as well as Punch Taverns, Marston's and Adnams.

A spokesperson for Fair Pint, which has launched a national campaign to push for government action over the unfair tie, told just-drinks: "It was useful. We are hopeful that it will lead somewhere but we'll have to wait and see.

"We made our position clear, which we've been open about. There is still quite a lot to do but it was positive, it was useful. We are quite keen to see things move quite quickly rather than delay things."

Around 24,000 pubs operate under the "tie" contracts also known as "wet rent", whereby pub tenants are obliged to buy their beer supplies from their landlords.

Last month the UK House of Commons Business and Enterprise Committee called on the Competition Commission to consider a reform of the arrangement and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, speaking at the National GMB conference in Blackpool earlier this week said if the evidence was strong enough, it would be referred to the OFT.

The next meeting is understood to have been scheduled for 9 July.