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09-12-2014, 18:30
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In a quite astonishing spat, JD Wetherspoon has with immediate effect ended its contract with Heineken to supply a number of drinks brands including Heineken and Foster's Lagers and that old JDW favourite, John Smith's Smooth. They have been trading partners for 35 years, so how has this come to pass? Well since JDW ruffled feathers in Ireland by daring to open a pubin Dublin, things have been a bit tetchy over there. First of all Diageo, owners of Guinness were booted out as JDW refused to pay what they saw as an inflated price for the black stuff. JDW tuned to Murphy's Stout made by Heineken and things sailed along nicely, though under the surface, all was not well. Wetherspoon intend to open a second pub in Ireland, but there has been a spectacular disagreement. According to the BBC and other identical statements elsewhere, Heineken wanted to make the CEO of JDW, John Hutson, personally liable in case of default on the debt, though why they should do so is a bit of a mystery given JDW's £80 million annual profit. Wetherspoon has basically said "Well, stuff you then!"

Now that would be fine if they had said that for Ireland, but JDW has effectively said "Get Lost" for all of their 900 pubs, blowing a £60 million account out of the water. Someone has misjudged the moment. Or maybe more than one someone. In a somewhat pained manner Heineken UK said "

"Heineken UK has had a long standing and successful relationship with JDW in the UK market over a 35-year period, and it is unfortunate that commercial issues in Ireland between Heineken Ireland and JD Wetherspoon have led to the current situation. We are seeking a resolution as soon as possible."

Well I bet they are. There is of course more to this than meets the eye with JDW undercutting the price of a pint of Heineken by up to €2 and the evil eye of Irish publicans being cast upon Heineken. Given that JDW has plans for up to 30 pubs in the Republic, this may well be somewhat of a test case.

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