We are pleased to report the publication of a book, ‘Intervention in the UK Brewing Industry’, written by John Spicer, Chris Thurman, John Walters and Simon Ward reviewing the circumstances leading up to the 1986-9 Monopolies and Mergers Commission inquiry into the UK brewing Industry.
In 1989 the Thatcher Government passed legislation that would radically change the nature of brewing and pub retailing, and which, indeed, constituted the most far-reaching intervention in private industry seen in post nationalisation Britain. Beginning with the great brewery mergers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and then the series of early official attempts to regulate and reform the industry, this book covers the 1986-1989 MMC inquiry, including the agitation for change – by no means discouraged by the Office of Fair Trading – on the part of one major brewer and the Campaign for Real Ale. It describes the parliamentary revolt and potential clash with European law that forced the Government to dilute the Commission’s recommendations: the major brewers’ rejection of the new business model that had been imposed on them; and the resulting disintegration of the industry and the acquisition of most of it by foreign companies. Finally the authors assess the damaging repercussions for consumers and pub licensees, and attempts to draw lessons from this landmark event.
John Spicer, one of the authors, is an Adviser to Oghma Partners LLP. John has been associated with the drinks industry for most of his career, first at Whitbread and then in the City, where for nearly a decade he was rated number one drinks sector analyst. In 1993 he served as Special Adviser to the Parliamentary Agriculture Select Committee during its inquiry into the Beer Orders, and in 2001 as an expert witness in a trial concerning the beer tie.