Tap contracts will remain a necessity for Coopers Premium Beverages unless they are deemed anti-competitive by the ACCC, a scenario general manager Mark Goulmy would welcome, but isn’t counting on.
The boss of Coopers’ distribution arm told a Brews News Q&A in Melbourne last week that it is becoming commonplace for larger pub groups to approach them seeking up-front payments to secure pourage in their venues.
“They’ll ask for $1 million up front for an agreement… they want that million dollars to re-invest in their pubs and the reinvestment’s really important. It’s a really competitive environment out there,” he said.
“We don’t like tap contracts. The fact is they’re here and the ACCC have looked at tap contracts on several occasions throughout the decades and they’ve had a recent review with nothing yet to come out of that.
“The fact is they have not found tap contracts to be substantially uncompetitive.
“Australia is a country of duopolies really, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. I would like to see more openness in the market but I’m not sure that’s a realistic position we’re going to get to,” Goulmy said.
He said that if anything did eventuate from the ACCC’s current probe into tap contracts, Coopers would be one of the key beneficiaries.
“We’d be open to a lot more taps I would suggest. It would be good for us – I wouldn’t have any problem having a lot of the big venues opened up and I think that Coopers would certainly be able to go on a lot of taps quite quickly,” Goulmy said.
Scrapping with craft
Goulmy said Coopers Premium Beverages is now fighting a battle on two fronts, due to the rapid growth of microbreweries across Australia.
“There’s very, very few venues now that are 100 per cent Lion or 100 per cent CUB. We try and pick up 10, 20 per cent of the opportunity that’s left over – the scraps,” he said.
“We’re finding that from our position we’re struggling to hold on to relevant taps [and] drive distribution, because there’s all these little guys coming through getting all those taps that we used to get in the past.”
Radio Brews News Episode 90 – Tap Contracts is available to download here.