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OFT to look again at UK beer industry

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has today confirmed it will reopen an enquiry into the tenanted pub market after legal threats from Camra (the Campaign for Real Ale). The original enquiry was launched back in the summer of 2009 after which the OFT ruled there was no evidence that supply ties were having any impact upon the competitiveness and pricing in the UK pub market. However, Camra immediately launched a legal challenge against the findings of enquiry which were published in October 2009.

Camra believes that alleged anti-competitive agreements between Pubcos and landlords could be inflating UK beer prices by as much as 50p a pint. While the Pubcos have denied these claims, and the initial OFT enquiry found no evidence to support them, it seems as though the threat and cost of potential legal action has made the OFT think again.

It is no secret that the UK pub industry has been under enormous pressure over the last decade due to increased costs, new regulations and alleged anticompetitive agreements between Pubcos and pub landlords. Whether the "new" investigation by the OFT will find any evidence of anti-competitive behaviour remains to be seen but Camra would certainly appear unwilling to give up the fight.

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