Health officials hit out at pub chain’s ‘free beer for a year’ competition

UK health officials have condemned pub chain Ei Publican’s competition giving punters the chance to win free beer for an entire year.

Ei Publican Partnerships, which has a network of leased and tenanted pubs housed in more than 4,000 commercial properties nationwide, launched the Love Your Pub campaign back in February 2018 to drive footfall and sales at the start of the year.

During the six-week campaign period, consumers will have the chance to win beer for a year at Ei’s pubs, as well as being able to claim two pints for the price of one by printing a voucher from Ei’s campaign website.

Drinks firms, including beer giants Molson Coors and Heineken, Diageo, and London brewer Meantime, have all partnered with Ei for the promotion.

But Balance, the North East of England’s alcohol-regulating body, has “concerns” that it is sending a message to consumers to drink more.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, told Chronicle Live: “Pubs do play an important role in many North East communities.

“However, it has to be a concern if people are being encouraged to drink twice as much as they otherwise would.”

The campaign is intended to drive customers to pubs and away from supermarkets, after a turbulent few years in the on-trade.

Footfall has dropped significantly in pubs since 2013, with sales of cheap beer in supermarkets on the rise.

Publicans can also nominate themselves as a community champion through the Great British Pubs Facebook page for the chance to win one of a number of free barrels of beer from an array of supporting regional brewers including Greene King, Exmoor Ales, Marston’s, Wadworth and Timothy Taylor’s.

Shevills criticised the involvement of large producers such as Molson Coors, which he implied may be more concerned with promoting their own products than supporting the UK on-trade sector.

“The biggest threat that pubs are facing in 2018 is the cheap alcohol being sold on supermarket shelves,” he said.

“It is ironic that some of the major alcohol corporations supporting this promotion and hailing the local pub have also fought tooth and nail to protect cheap supermarket alcohol which is killing pubs.”

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