Bottom Line: Pub fight goes on

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The Independent Online
SIR Allen Sheppard, chairman of Grand Metropolitan, will have to be at his defensive best at today's annual meeting. The National Association of Inntrepreneur Leaseholders is poised to make another noisy and highly visible protest against 'unfair pub rents'.

There are also rumours that relations between Grand Met and Courage, Inntrepreneur joint owners, are becoming strained.

One of the biggest bones of contention for many of the publicans is that they are tied to buying beer from Courage. For that privilege they have to pay full list prices for barrels of beer amid one of the biggest discounting wars ever seen in the wholesale market.

But that has nothing to do with Grand Met, and the question has to be asked: are the publicans taking the fight to the wrong corner?

The onus to rescue distressed landlords falls more squarely on the shoulders of Courage, which loses its sole right to supply beer to 4,350 Inntrepreneur pubs in four years' time.

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