Publicans losing patience with brand Diageo

A growing number of Dundalk publicans are becoming increasingly frustrated with drinks mega-company Diageo, the Guiness parent company.

A growing number of Dundalk publicans are becoming increasingly frustrated with drinks mega-company Diageo, the Guiness parent company.

Last week comments were left on the Facebook by the owner of popular public house Gormleys, Greg Gormley, which were less then complimentary about the organisation, now one of the largest drinks companies in the world.

The post received huge support, including from other Dundalk publicans who clearly feel that the company, and by association the Guiness brand, are losing touch with the average publican.

Greg Gormley said in the post that: “Sorry to see Guinness is losing its grip in the Irish market...”

“Why are you downgrading the line quality of your beers, putting stout into lager glasses, putting up the price of all your draught products, less and less customer service, hardly a Rep on the road, impossible to contact these people, encouraging publicans to order on-line via Diageo Connect...

“Really annoying to see what once was a great ‘IRISH’ company is now a money pit for a mean multinational company, thinking only of their dividends.

“Diageo is closing another Brewery in Dundalk, this time The Great Northern Brewery, known locally as The Harp Brewery, putting more people on the unemployment list, think it’s time for both publicans and the consumers to take a stand against the big boys and start to look into the smaller Irish Brewing Companies.”

Much of the frustration came on the back of the 5 cent increase, which many publican have felt they have had to “eat” and not pass on to customers.

Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat publican and local councillor Mark Dearey told the paper that opinions among Dundalk publicans regarding Diageo’s strategies have been less than positive.

“That opinion of Diageo is widely held among pub owners, yes,” says the co-owner of the Spirit Store.

“The number of reps on the roads is the main issue that I’ve encountered. It seems increasingly difficult to get a hold of them, but this appears to the strategy that Diageo are pursuing. Diageo have dispensed with much of this element of the service.
“Reps are very important. We have roughly a seven day turnaround once air has made it into a Guinness keg. If there is any problem in the line, the cooling system or with the tap, and we cant’ get a rep out, that can obviosuly cause major issues.

“They have also abandoned their policy of offering a couple of free kegs at the end of the year to compensate for beer lost when a line has to be cleaned. This is a small thing but annoyed a lot of publicans. 
“We still sell Harp and McArdles here, and we wouldn’t open if we didn’t have Guinness. That’s your basic, fundamental beverage. But when the plant closes in the summer, people will obviously lose that brand loyality, in Dundalk at least.”

In a statement given to the Dundalk Democrat, Diageo told the paper: ”We are completely committed to the Irish pub and Diageo continues to be one of the largest financial supporters of the on-trade in the Republic of Ireland. To ensure the perfect pint is delivered in conjunction with publicans we clean all beer lines in Ireland each month carried out by a dedicated team of over 100 quality representatives. We also have sales representation in every county in Ireland and have just launched an online ordering system called ‘Diageo Connect’ which offers our customers great flexibility . We’ve received very positive feedback to date with over 3,000 customers already signed up.

“In October we wrote to our customers advising them of a price increase, this is the first in four years and has been kept to a minimum but has been necessitated by very significant increases in raw materials such as Barley and energy costs.

“In January 2012 Diageo announced it was investing e153 million in a brewing centre of excellence at St James’s Gate, Dublin. This decision is fundamental to delivering the competitiveness necessary for the long term sustainability of our brewing in Ireland. This will consolidate brewing operations from Kilkenny and Dundalk on to the St James’s Gate site and both plants will close in 2013. The new brewery will allow us to compete even more strongly from our Irish Export base, safeguarding the future of brewing in Ireland for years to come.”