‘Spoons shuns Diageo in Irish venture
JD Wetherspoon will not stock any Diageo-distributed products “for the long- term” in its new pub ventures in Ireland unless it can haggle lower prices from the brewer.
Tim Martin, Wetherspoon’s chairman, said he wanted the pub chain to stock Diageo-owned and distrubuted products – which includes Guinness, Carlsberg and Smithwicks – but that the company is unwilling to pay the high price charged for stocking draught beer in Ireland.
“I don’t want to put pressure on Diageo, but we simply baulked at paying a higher price for Guinness in Ireland than we do in the UK,” he said.
The price difference between stocking draught beer in Ireland compared with the UK is understood to be up to 20%, according to reports in The Irish Times.
Martin was speaking yesterday at the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock in Dublin, the first of Wetherspoon’s 30 planned pubs to open in the Republic of Ireland.
He said, “I’m confident we can move ahead with or without Diageo. We have a good relationship, but if it turns out that we don’t stock Guinness in any of our Irish pubs, then we might do long-term deals for Murphy’s and Beamish instead.”
Commenting, a Diageo spokesperson said, “Wetherspoon is a highly valued partner of Diageo in Britain. As with all our customers, we are constantly exploring ways to make those relationships bigger and better.”
Martin said Wetherspoon’s second Irish pub, in Cork, may open “by Christmas”. It is also planning pubs in Dún Laoghaire and Swords in Dublin.
Martin said he did not know how long it would take the group to get up to 30 pubs, and that it depends on the performance of its initial outlets. He said Wetherspoon’s had looked at buying pubs in Limerick, Galway and “some smaller towns”.
“As long as we feel accepted, we will plough on. We are a big tax collector for the State and we will provide a lot of jobs. The industry will benefit from having us here,” he said.
Martin hit the headlines recently after condemning celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and his chain of Italian restaurants, Jamie’s Italian, for forcing up commercial rent prices and hurting the pub industry.
He said, “My advice for Oliver is: Be careful, son. You’re an excellent cook, but do you know about rent reviews or understand the property market?”