Publicans pressed Heineken over Wetherspoon’s cheap pints

Dublin bar owners were concerned the UK chain was getting a preferential price

Heineken beer on sale at the bargain price of €2.95 at the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, Co Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller

Heineken beer on sale at the bargain price of €2.95 at the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, Co Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

A number of Dublin publicans are known to have raised concerns with Heineken about the pricing of its beer at JD Wetherspoon’s prior to the high-profile bust-up between the Dutch brewer and the British pub chain.

Wetherspoon controversially delisted Heineken products from its 926 pubs this week following a row over the supply of beer to its new Forty Foot venue in Dún Laoghaire, effectively terminating a contract worth €76 million in sales to Heineken.

The British chain had been selling Heineken’s premium lager brand for €2.95 a pint in its only other Irish pub, the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, prior to the row, undercutting the price typically charged in Irish pubs by more than 40 per cent.

The Irish Times has learned that several Dublin publicans contacted Heineken in recent weeks directly or through its sales reps in relation to Wetherspoon’s controversial pricing policy.

Dublin publican Charlie Chawke confirmed he had contacted Heineken Ireland recently to enquire if Wetherspoon was receiving a preferential rate from the brewer.

Mr Chawke, who owns seven Dublin pubs, including the Orchard in Rathfarnham and the Bank in College Green, said Heineken assured him the product was being sold at the same price to all customers.

Asked about Wetherspoon’s pricing policy, Mr Chawke said: “I couldn’t sell it at that price and make a profit and pay my rates, my bank charges, my staff and everything else.”

Heineken Ireland would not confirm if it had been lobbied by disgruntled publicans to tackle Wetherspoon over its pricing of Heineken products, which also include Murphy’s stout and Foster’s lager.

A spokeswoman said the company did not wish to comment publicly on its relationship with a specific customer.

Wetherspoon, which dropped Guinness after a similar falling out with Diageo, is planning to open its newly revamped Forty Foot pub in Dún Laoghaire on Tuesday.

The company has invested nearly €4 million buying and refurbishing the venue, which is part of the Pavilion Theatre complex overlooking Dún Laoghaire harbour.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), the trade association which represents Dublin publicans, said it was not involved in the dispute or any actions around it.