Around 151 pub tenants have collectively written to the first minister of Scotland to express their concern about the threat posed by the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill, currently progressing through the Scottish Parliament.
They are appealing to Nicola Sturgeon to reconsider the proposed legislation, which they say will have a "ruinous impact on the viability of our businesses and the future of our sector".
The cohort of signatories all operate their pubs under the tied pubs model, which offers the ‘beer tie' arrangement, favourable rent terms, access to central buying power, advice and resources. For many, this has proved to be a lifeline during the pandemic with tenants receiving full rent cancellations or substantial reductions as well as replacement beer, advice and practical support on reopening their businesses in a Covid-secure way.
The aim of the Tied Pubs Bill is to require the establishment of a Scottish Pub Code to govern the relationship between pub-owning businesses and their tied tenants and ensuring the appointment of a Scottish Pubs Code Adjudicator to apply the code.
The letter argued that the proposed legislation would create a "significant disincentive to pub companies to invest in Scotland" and "exacerbate the challenges facing our businesses".
The Bill passed Stage 1 in the parliamentary process before Christmas against the recommendation of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee, which said there was no evidence the legislation was required.
There are currently around 750 tied pubs in Scotland.