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Admiral Taverns introduces prize freeze for licensees

By Luke Nicholls , 16-Feb-2012

Pub company Admiral Taverns is to freeze the prices of a broad selection of its draught beers in an attempt to hit back at imminent increases in the amount of duty levied against alcohol sold in pubs and bars.

The Group, which has an estate of 1,200 tenanted and leased pubs in England and Wales, will hold the pricing on at least one leading brand in each of its key draught categories. Draught lagers San Miguel, Stella Artois 4% and Carlsberg will all be held.

Managing director Kevin Georgel said: “Our pricing is now below what brewers themselves recommend we charge for many of their beers, but as a business we have faced cost increases in all of these product categories, so effectively we are taking these increases on the chin. However, we believe this is the right thing to do.

“We feel it is important to demonstrate a commitment to licensees on pricing and our work in this area has allowed us to provide them with a soft landing, which is crucial in this environment. Freezing prices on a wide selection of leading brands gives licensees a real alternative – to other drinks brands where we have had no choice but to pass on brewers’ recommended increases.

“We will also be working closely with licensees to help set retail prices in their pubs that not only sustains their business, but drives it forward.”

Tax on pubs

Georgel, who recently joined the board of Dartmoor Brewery , went on to state that if the Government opt to press ahead with yet more alcohol duty hikes in the Budget this March, the company would have little choice but to pass these increases through to licensees.

“We have worked extremely hard to help our licensees keep prices down for their customers,” he said, “and we would urge (Chancellor) George Osborne to do the same.

“It does not make any sense for the Chancellor to keep the above-inflation duty escalator in place, given that it actually serves to reduce the tax take from alcohol. It is a tax on pubs and has driven the acceleration of the gap in alcohol pricing between the on-trade and off-trade. It is driving alcohol consumption away from the pub and it is time for a different approach.”

Admiral is also planning to freeze the price of at least a dozen cask beers including flagship brands such as Marston’s Pedigree, Greene King Abbot Ale, Draught Bass, Courage Directors and Shepherd Neame Spitfire.

The initiative follows similar moves by Admiral to mitigate price increases last year and in the case of Carlsberg, 2012 will be the second consecutive year that the price for the Danish lager has been frozen by the company.

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