By Joe Hoppe

 

A U.K. regulator has fined Star Pubs and Bars 2 million pounds ($2.6 million), after finding the company seriously and repeatedly breached the legally binding Pubs Code over nearly three years.

The pub operator of Heineken NV in the U.K. was fined by the Pubs Code Adjudicator, after it found the company had persisted in forcing tenants to sell unreasonable levels of Heineken beers and ciders when they requested to go free-of-tie. The regulator added that this was despite repeat regulatory interventions and its clear arbitration rulings.

The regulator found that Star Pubs and Bars had breached the code 12 times in the period from July 21, 2016 to July 10, 2019. The breaches include offering stocking terms that deterred tenants pursuing free-of-tie tenancies, and systemic corporate failures in its approach to compliance, such as including a responsibility in the job description of the company's Code Compliance Officer "to ensure the Code is interpreted to the commercial benefit of Heineken UK".

As well as imposing the fine, which is based on the turnover of Heineken UK, the regulator has ordered Star Pubs to make all free-of-tie tenants compliant with the Code and ensure future compliance, with all changes paid for by Star. The company has six weeks to provide a detailed response, the regulator added.

Heineken NV shares at 0840 GMT were down 1.12 euros ($1.32), or 1.4%, at EUR78.62

 

Write to Joe Hoppe at joseph.hoppe@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 15, 2020 05:04 ET (09:04 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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