Brussels gives clearance on Whitbread tied pubs
Tuesday 30 September 1997
The Commission's announcement was the first in a series of parallel investigations into tied pub arrangements by the main UK chains. In a statement the EC said it planned to give retrospective approval to Whitbread's tie agreements, a move which it said could have implications for other, more controversial pub ties where lessees were suing the pub companies.
Though tied pub agreements have been covered by a block exemption from the Commission, excluding them from European competition law, the EC has been investigating the ties individually. The EC's statement admitted that Whitbread's lessees paid more for their beer than other operators, but found that they gained benefits in return in the form of lower rents, help with investment spending and management expertise.
``In those circumstances, the Commission considers that the tied lessees can compete on a level-playing field with their `free-trading' competitors, and that an exemption consequently seems acceptable," the statement added.
Simon Ward, Whitbread's strategic affairs director said the announcement was a "big step on the way to final clarification" that the company's leases were legal. "There have been no complaints from our lessees to the Commission," Mr Ward added.
The issue of tied pubs had aroused intense controversy in the brewing industry. Camra, the real ale lobby which supports the tie, said the news would give other lessees greater certainty about their businesses. "We welcome this because it clarifies the position for Whitbread's long- suffering tenants," a spokesman said.
The Commission indicated it would make an announcement about the former Inntrepreneur chain, where several hundred lessees are embroilled in legal actions with the management, in a few months' time. Last week Nomura, the Japanese investment bank, paid pounds 1.2bn to buy the Inntrepreneur pubs, along with Spring Inns, from their joint owners, Foster's of Australia and Grand Metropolitan.
Many Inntrepreneur landlords have complained that they gained no commercial advantages from the tie, despite the restrictions it imposes. Group Action, which represents some 250 disaffected lessees, said last night that the EC's decision for Whitbread pubs did not mean it would approve the Inntrepreneur agreements.
Threat of 'catastrophic cascade of collisions' must be averted, warn scientists
Wellcome Image Awards: The most striking images from the world of science, including breast cancer cells under chemical attack and a photographer’s own kidney stone
Space debris orbiting Earth to be destroyed with giant lasers fired from Australia
Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Oscar Pistorius murder trial: Athlete repeatedly sick as court hears 'graphic details' of Reeva Steenkamp's post-mortem
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 2 Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
- 3 North Korea elections: Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote
- 4 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
- 5 Sharknado 2: Former WWE wrestler Kurt Angle to fight second wave of flying sharks
iJobs Money & Business
£1000 per month: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ban...
£35000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: You must ...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A top, City ba...
£40000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Support Officer (Equities, Derivativ...