Published: 15:00, 20 November 2014
Shepherd Neame boozers have narrowly escaped the consequences of a “hugely damaging” move which will affect nearly half of all of Britain’s pubs.
MPs voted yesterday to reform the historic “beer tie”, ending regulations that make tenants pay more than non-tenants for their drinks.
But the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said the vote would result in 1,400 more pubs closing and a staggering 7,000 job losses.
Shares in both Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns, the two biggest pub chains, both plummeted after the decision was made, falling to 17
But Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame has reassured that their pubs will not be affected because they fall under the 500 pub threshold.
He said: “We are pleased to have been excluded from statutory regulation.
“We recognise this process still has some way to go and we would welcome an end to the uncertainty as soon as possible.
“We would like to reaffirm our commitment to the voluntary Code of Practice.”
The reform of the beer tie, which has been running for more than 400 years, has been labelled "unwelcome" Simon Townsend, chief executive of leased and tenanted pub operator Enterprise Inns.
He said: “This amendment, which was not supported by the Government, threatens to have serious unintended consequences for publicans and the industry at large.”
He said a Government review had rejected the “market rent only option” as damaging to pubs, communities and the wider industry, and would lead to “widespread pub closures, significant job losses and reduced investment in the sector”.
Mr Townsend added: “We continue to believe the tie offers the best operating model for the vast majority of our publicans.
“In light of yesterday’s vote we will continue to assess all options to safeguard the interests of both our publicans and shareholders.
“In the meantime we will monitor the situation closely and await the Government’s response to this unwelcome development.”
But the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said the change would secure the future of pubs, helping them to stay open and ensure the cost of a pint remained affordable. It was also backed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).