Already more than 30 brand owner in the UK have signed up to Heineken’s monthly line connection fee which was introduced in October last year on a trial basis but went live earlier this month. According to the old scheme which was agreed by Brands Dispense Association members and introduced more than 20 years ago, other brewers regardless of size had to pay a one-off connection fee of GBP 145 to the lead brewer who installed, maintained and technically serviced the dispense and beer cooling equipment in a pub or restaurant. The system provided for highest beer quality in pubs with regular health and safety checks.
Heineken was the first brewer in the UK to entirely scrap the one-off connection fee in favor of a monthly rate of GBP 10.50 or GBP 7.50 for those that pay promptly. Chris Jowsey, On-Trade Director Heineken UK, said: “The old system of charging wasn’t fair or sustainable, and that’s why we are changing it.”
However, Heineken still faces the problem of brand owners who refuse to pay the monthly fee. “That’s why, reluctantly, we will have to charge publicans for lines that are not centrally settled,” explains Jowsey. “Of course, my ambition is that publicans have nothing to pay. Already 95 percent of lines will not incur a charge for publicans,” he concludes.
In February, AB InBev followed the example of Heineken and also scrapped the one-off connection fee as part of AB InBev’s Raising-the-Bar program. In contrast to Heineken, AB Inbev exempted the fee only for small brewers which do not have to pay a fee at all, while large non-leading brewers will continue to be charged the GBP 145 one-off connection fee. “We feel the new monthly line charges being put forward are restrictive to craft or emerging brands that have re-energised our industry and Briton’s passion for beer in recent years,” reasoned Rory McLellan, On-Trade Sales Director at AB InBev UK. (inside.beer, 5.2.2019)