The Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) decision to reject the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra)'s "super complaint" over the business model of the major pub companies has provoked mixed reaction in the industry.
But the OFT today announced it has not found evidence that supply ties are resulting in competition problems that are having an adverse impact on consumers.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said the trade body was pleased that the OFT "has announced a clean bill of health for the pub sector".
"We will now continue to press ahead with implementing our agreed reform package to improve transparency and openness between licensees and pub owning companies," she said.
"We will also renew our focus on working constructively with government, MPs and other stakeholders - particularly on the critical areas of tax and regulation, which are the true cause of the current pressures on pubs."
But Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, said the OFT's decision was "phenomenally poor".
"Given the amount of evidence submitted I am genuinely at a loss as to how they have dismissed this complaint," he said.
"Once again they have completely missed the point and have justified taking no action on the grounds that there is no lack of competition, but what we have is competition between a few large companies who have a stranglehold on pub ownership and are all operating a business model that is unbalanced and makes it difficult for many tenants."
Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailer (ALMR), said: "We believe that Camra made a good case for the OFT to conduct its own thorough study into the impact on consumers of supply deals in the pub sector and regret very much that it has decided not to do so."
By Daniel Thomas
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