‘Beer deal won’t hurt us’

British pub operator JD Wetherspoon has said its ambitious growth plans for the Irish market will not be negatively affected by it not stocking the country’s top selling lager, Heineken in its pubs.

The British group yesterday struck a revised deal with the Dutch brewing giant, following a pricing row between the two, last month, which saw Wetherspoon delist all Heineken products from its 926 pubs in Britain and Ireland.

In Ireland, the pub chain will now stock Beamish stout, Fosters lager and Symonds cider; but will not be selling Murphy’s stout and Heineken’s eponymous flagship lager.

Known for its competitive over-the-bar pricing policy, Wetherspoon’s has been offering the latter two brands for around 40% less than the standard price in Irish bars, which had upset Heineken.

Wetherspoon said yesterday it will now sell its remaining three Heineken-owned products in Ireland “at prices in line with our other products”. The group is typically selling craft beers, stouts and ciders for an average price of €2.50 to €3 per pint.

A spokesperson for JD Wetherspoon said, yesterday, there will be “no issue, whatsoever” in not selling the Heineken lager brand, still the most popular beer brand in the Republic. The chain has bars in Blackrock, Co Dublin and Dun Laoghaire.

Last year, a similar pricing row with Diageo resulted in Wetherspoon launching in Ireland without the ability to sell Guinness in its pubs.

The company said yesterday it has traded very comfortably to date in Ireland, despite not stocking Guinness and added that the lack of Heineken has not seen a negative reaction from punters so far.

In a brief statement, Heineken confirmed that Wetherspoon has resumed ordering product from it, but added that it “does not discuss, publicly, any arrangements or contractual terms it has with any customer”.

The pub group’s commercial director, Paul Hine, said: “We are pleased to have reached agreeable commercial terms with Heineken”.

Wetherspoon has plans to open around 30 pubs in Ireland over the coming years, in city centre and suburban areas.

Swords, Blanchardstown, Cork, Waterford and Dublin city centre have been for its unveiled as planned sites in recent weeks.


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