OFT says beer market fair

The UK pub industry was cleared by competition watchdogs yesterday after a reopened investigation into controversial “beer ties”. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) stuck by its initial findings last October that there was no evidence that so-called tied prices – where pub companies compel tenants to buy drinks from them – damage competition.

It looked again at the inquiry after an appeal from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), which lodged the original super-complaint in July 2009 over fears that high rents and beer ties were forcing good landlords out of business and leading to higher prices for consumers.

But the OFT said today the UK pub sector is “competitive overall” and that there were “insufficient grounds to justify further OFT action”. The regulator said it recognised pub lessee concerns over contractual issues with their pub companies.