Star Pubs & Bars is to appeal the £2m fine handed down by the Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA) earlier this year after the pub brand allegedly forced tenants to sell "unreasonable levels" of its own alcohol.
The investigation claimed that from 21 July 2016 to 10 July 2019 there were "multiple breaches" of the pubs code by Star Pubs. This including telling 96 tenants who requested to go free-of-tie that 100% of the keg beer they sold had to be Heineken brands. Star Pubs is Heineken's pub arm.
Lawson Mountstevens, managing director at Star Pubs & Bars, said: "We are deeply disappointed and frustrated at the outcome of the PCA's investigation. There are many aspects of the report that we fundamentally disagree with and we have lodged an appeal with the High Court. This penalty is unwarranted and disproportionate, and comes at a time when the entire sector is in serious financial crisis as we work around the clock to support our pubs and licensees to keep their businesses afloat.
"We are a responsible business that takes its regulatory obligations extremely seriously and strives to achieve the highest levels of professionalism. From the outset we have been transparent and repeatedly sought guidance from the regulator on the terms we were offering those licensees looking to take up the Market Rent Only (MRO) option, but the PCA consistently declined to respond to those requests. Instead it chose to launch a long, costly and unnecessary investigation.
"We are dedicated to the Pubs Code in both word and spirit, and do not believe the investigation accurately reflects the culture of our business or the good working relationship we have with the vast majority of our licensees."