Pub Companies - Business and Enterprise Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by Jeff Rosenmeier

  My name is Jeff Rosenmeier and I started Lovibonds Brewery Ltd in Henley-on-Thames in June 2005. I did not come from the beer business originally, so we started very small which enabled us to do some market research without a lot of risk. We currently produce between 7-14 hl/week. I would like to explain what I discovered to be my local market. I am a very frustrated local business man, so I hope you appreciate and take on board the dire state of affairs that this tied or managed pub system is causing for craft brewers like myself.

  There is a strong brewing tradition in Henley-on-Thames—the town is dotted with extinct malthouses and old brewery buildings. With the departure of Brakspears in 2002 we thought that surely we would have a market opportunity. Below is a list of the traditional pubs within the centre of Henley:

PubPub Company

The VictoriaEnterprise
The Horse and GroomGreene King
The ArgyllGreene King
The Catherine WheelWetherspoons
The White HartBrakspear
The Rose and CrownBrakspear
The AnchorBrakspear
The AngelBrakspear
The Queens HeadBrakspear
The Bull InnBrakspear
The Three TunsBrakspear
The Three HorseshoesBrakspear
The Saracen's HeadBrakspear
The Row BargeBrakspear
The Bird in HandFree House

  Out of 15 pubs, only one of these are able to purchase our beer. The others within pub company ties will not be able to take our beer, even though the person running the pub would love to. Each of these pub's landlords are forced (in their lease terms) to buy their beer (this also includes wine, spirits and soft drinks) through an approved wholesaler.

  This type of market suppression for the craft brewer is not limited to Henley-on-Thames, but can be found throughout Britain. There are now 600 or so craft brewers like myself whose growth is stifled in these market conditions.

  I do not believe that the Government should allow the brewing and pubco industry to self-police their actions as they have already been allowed to effectively stop free trade in the beer business. If you look at the above list of pubs, all of them (bar the free house) has a distribution contract with Scottish and Newcastle, meaning that 80% or more of their beer trade comes from 1 very large producer. In my mind, this perfect monopoly has been created in the beer industry due to the government's laissez-faire attitude and it is time for action.

  We would love to trade with all of the above establishments, allowing us to grow sustainably within the community. Instead, we have to travel further a field to find those that are permitted to buy from us. I'm unsure how you write legislation around it, but I would like to see anyone who owns a pub be allowed to trade with all producers within a local market (say 30 mile radius).

  At one time Henley-on-Thames supported more than five breweries within the village limits|today, given the market that I have discovered, we are finding it hard to keep our one alive.

29 September 2008

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