PCA fines Heineken Pub Company £2m
Pubs Code Adjudicator Fiona Dickie has fined Star Pubs and Bars £2 million after finding the company seriously and repeatedly breached the legally binding Pubs Code over nearly three years.
A total of 12 breaches were identified and Pubs Code Adjudicator Fiona Dickie warned that other brewers could face similar actions. She said:
“The report of my investigation is a game-changer. It demonstrates that the regulator can and will act robustly to protect the rights that Parliament has given to tied tenants.
“I will be holding discussions with all the companies I regulate following my findings about how they will ensure they are code-compliant.
“My message is that if anyone previously had any doubts about my resolution to act when I find breaches, they can have no doubt now.
"She said Star pubs were forced to keep selling Heineken brands, which include Birra Moretti and Symonds cider, despite repeated regulatory interventions and clear arbitration rulings from the PCA.
Commenting on the announcement that Heineken UK’s pub arm, Star Pubs and Bars, has been fined £2m after being found to have seriously and repeatedly breached the Pubs Code, CAMRA National Chairman Nik Antona said:
“This is a good and deserved outcome for Star tenants – and a landmark moment for the Pubs Code Adjudicator. We are glad that the PCA has used their financial penalty powers for the first time.
“We hope this will send a clear message to regulated pub companies that they cannot get away with breaching the Code. In this case, the PCA found repeated breaches of the Code in multiple areas – we want to see further investigations from the PCA to make sure that other regulated pub companies are complying.
“The pub sector as we know it is currently under threat due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, and lack of proper financial support from central Government. Pub companies need to be supporting their tied tenants through this, and at a very minimum this should mean fulfilling their basic obligations under the Code. As we see further local lockdowns and forced closures periods, we are again calling on pub companies to do the right thing and cancel rent for publicans that are unable to trade.
“We are also looking forward to the publication on the Pubs Code Review, which we hope will expand the enforcement options available to the PCA so that they can act more quickly and decisively to clamp down on abuse of the Code in future.”