Top 100: David Forde, Heineken UK

19 April 2018 by
Top 100: David Forde, Heineken UK

Overall ranking: 32 (new entry)

Pub and bar operator ranking: 8 (new entry)


What we think

In 2008, when Heineken and Carlsberg agreed a deal to split the assets of the once-proud Scottish & Newcastle business between them, there were undoubtedly cynics in the industry who didn't expect Heineken's ownership of the Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises leased and tenanted arm to last for long.

That view was understandable, given that in the 150 years since Gerard Heineken bought himself a brewery in Amsterdam, expansion has been all about acquisitions of breweries rather than a bar empire. Heineken now owns more than 165 breweries in 70 countries, and brews around 250 beers and ciders, from its flagship global lager to local speciality brews.

However, while the main prize from S&N was the beer and cider brands, Heineken UK quickly showed that its plans went well beyond paying lip service to pub ownership until it could negotiate a trade sale. By the time Forde took on the managing director role at Heineken UK in 2013, there had already been significant investment in many of the pubs in the renamed Star Pubs & Bars estate, as well as several acquisitions of packages of pubs.

Forde has thrown himself into the job, actively engaging with industry lobbying, and he has been a vocal critic of the UK's high rates of duty on beer, which he sees as detrimental to pubs in particular. When he took over the role of chairman of the British Beer and Pub Association in 2015, he said: "Beer and pubs are part of our national culture." He passed the role on to Simon Emeny of Fuller's in December 2017.

However, it is the £300m deal to acquire Punch Taverns, announced at the end of 2016 and completed after clearing all the regulatory hurdles in August 2017, that demonstrates that Heineken UK is in the pubs business for the long haul. The deal cherry-picked 1,900 pubs from the 3,000-plus owned by Punch, with the remainder sold on to other industry buyers.

That makes Star Pubs & Bars the UK's third largest pub business, with 3,000 pubs, and it is actively targeting partnerships with multiple operators as well as through individual agreements. Forde says the Punch deal is a "huge vote of confidence in the great British pub. Our proven track record of success demonstrates that well-invested and well-run pubs in the leased and tenanted sector can thrive."

Further information

Admiral and G1 to acquire 29 Heineken pubs >>

Punch Taverns chief executive Duncan Garrood leaves the company >>

Heineken's acquisition of Punch could reduce competition, CMA finds >>

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