Brewer condemns "irresponsible" off-trade

Greene King has attacked “irresponsible” supermarket beer prices, which it said are creating difficulties for the industry as well as society generally.

Chief executive Rooney Anand said: “Years of unhelpful government intervention on issues such as duty, VAT and licensing have penalised the UK pub industry, while some parts of the off-trade have been allowed to deploy pricing and promotional tactics to sell more alcohol at irresponsible prices.

“In the last 12 months, industry on-trade beer volumes have fallen another 6.6%. This ongoing shift from more regulated and controlled drinking out in pubs to less regulated drinking in before going out has had significant negative social consequences for the UK, as well as providing a challenging backdrop for our industry.”

Anand was announcing half-year pre-tax profits for Greene King of £73.1 million, up 17% on last year’s figure. The increase was driven by a strong performance by Greene King’s pubs and also Belhaven, the Scottish brewer wholly owned by the company.

Greene King has announced plans to integrate Belhaven within its structure to make £1 million of savings, but said brewing would continue in Dunbar.