Punter landlord blames 'greedy' brewery for price of beer

thisisoxfordshire: Punter landlord Tom Rainey Buy this photo » Punter landlord Tom Rainey

A FED-UP pub landlord has put up a sign apologising for the price of his beer but blames “greedy” brewery owners.

Tom Rainey, who runs The Punter on Osney Island in West Oxford, said he was concerned regulars were putting price rises down to him.

But he said his tied agreement with owner Greene King, which means he can only buy beer from them, was behind the increases.

The “tie” agreements havebeen blamed for closures around the UK.

Mr Rainey was told by letter from Greene King it was implementing a 3.5 per cent increase.

And he has pinned up his own letter near the bar saying: “We must apologise for the pricing of our draught products.

“We are tied with Greene King and they are one seriously greedy company who it seems are making it their aim to destroy independent pubs.”

His letter contrasts the £3.96 he is charged by the brewery for a litre of San Miguel with the £1.40 cost of a litre of petrol.

Drinks not covered by the tie, including wine and spirits, have been frozen since Mr Rainey took on the riverside pub in August 2010. And his letter lists prices he would have to charge to make a profit against what customers are currently paying, for example £4.25 for Guinness against £4.70 needed for profit.

Mr Rainey said: “Customers think we are on the rob. They think we are taking the mickey out of them but we are having it taken out of us.”

He said of his letter: “People like it. They find it interesting, especially when you put the pricing of lager versus petrol.”

He said the other Punter pub he runs in Cambridge pays £140 for a barrel of San Miguel from owner Punch Taverns but the price in Oxford is £165.

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Mr Rainey recently stopped serving the brand, which had gone up from £3.80 in 2010 to £4.20 this year.

Guinness went up from £4.10 to £4.25 in January but Mr Rainey has pledged to absorb all prices from the 3.5 per cent increase imposed by Greene King this month.

He added: “We still make money on food, we make money on soft drinks and wines.”

Mr Rainey who runs the pub with partner Paul Fox, said: “We didn’t realise Greene King prices were going to escalate so much.”

TV producer and regular Jim Mower, 38, from Bridge Street, Osney, backed the letter.

He said: “What Paul and Tom have tried to do is be open with their customers.

“It is very easy, if your pint has gone up by 30p or 40p and if you don’t know why, to interpret that as landlord greed.

“It is a community pub and the community has been informed.”

Andrew Hall, landlord of the Rose and Crown in North Parade, North Oxford, put up a similar sign when tied to Punch, before buying the freehold in 2009.

He said: “Having been a tenant, I know exactly how he feels but now having become a freeholder I can see some of the difficulties involved.”

A Greene King spokesman said: “Where tenants are tied for the purchase of beers, they receive other benefits and support.

“We focus on getting the right deal for the right pub and we are working very hard to achieve this balance with The Punter.”

In August, the Oxford Mail revealed that 50 pubs across the county have closed since 2007.

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