Saturday, January 24, 2009

Restraint of trade

At times in the past I have been critical of CAMRA for seeking anti-competitive solutions to the perceived ills of the brewing industry and pub trade. In the long run, real ale and pubs will only survive if consumers positively want them. Hobbling the competition can only deliver a short-term fix. However, I must applaud their latest campaign against restrictive covenants on pub sales. If a pub operator has a pub they no longer think is viable, they are fully entitled to sell it off. If nobody else thinks it is viable either, then it will be sold “for alternative use”. But if someone else thinks they can make a go of it as a pub, then why should they be prevented from doing so by a restrictive covenant? There are plenty of thriving pubs up and down the country that had been cast off by major pub owners as “unviable”. The market should decide which pubs are viable, not pub companies, and restrictive covenants are just a means of protecting the trade of failing pubs.