Price increases come under fire

Publicans say they’ll have to add up to 12p to a pint

By Dave Hunter

SCOTTISH publicans have hit out at the country’s major brewers over the latest wholesale price increases, claiming they will have to add up to 12p to the cost of a pint.
Tennent Caledonian sent letters to its customers last week detailing a price increase of 2.1% on its products, following similar increases from Belhaven, Carlsberg (2.9% to 3.6%) and Heineken (£4.58 to £5.05 on an 11gal keg) earlier in January.
Glasgow publican Michael McHugh described the increases as “an absolute disgrace” and said he would have to increase the price of a pint by around 11p.
“They used to be a couple of pence; this time it’s six pence, plus VAT,” he said.
“I think it’s edging up the way instead of down the way, which is really annoying because inflation is down, we’re all struggling to make a living, and they’re hammering the prices up.”
Crieff licensee Stevie Rodger, of the Pretorian Bar, said he would have to increase his prices by 10p to 12p a pint.
“What do you say to the workers that come in on a Friday night for their pint?” said Rodgers. “Nowhere in the letter I got does it tell me why they are putting the price up.
“‘What’s the reason for that Stevie? Why have you put the price up?’ I don’t have an answer. It’ll put an end to another few pubs, that’s for sure; especially at this time of year.”
In Broughty Ferry, Jonathan Stewart, owner of the Royal Arch pub, said he would absorb the price increases until at least late spring or summer.
“I just feel that our regulars aren’t ready for it now,” he said.
“With the lower drink drive limit the pub is not as attractive as it was. That’s the way they’re thinking now, so any factor like a price increase that we can resist is worthwhile.”
A spokeswoman for Greene King and Belhaven said: “We always look to be supportive of both the trade and consumers when we review our pricing.
“We have introduced marginal increases across Greene King products in Scotland this year but have not yet made any further decisions.”
And Brian Calder of Tennent Caledonian commented: “We recognise that the current economic climate, coupled with recent changes in government legislation, brings challenging times for the licensed trade.
“We will continue to support and invest in our customers and our brands, and give them our commitment that the wholesale price increase announced will be the only one applied to our brands in 2015 (excluding any duty alterations imposed by the chancellor).”

“The wholesale list price increase of 2.1% on our draught brands is, we believe, the lowest increase of any of the major brewers announced to date. Also this is the first such increase on our draught cider brands since 2012.
“We at WTCB value our customers highly. We continue to be committed to Scotland, its licensed trade and our customers as we strive to be the multi beverage wholesaler of choice to the Scottish licensed trade.”