25 Jan 2010

Darker greys

Some time ago I commented that what Heineken was doing in the Czech Republic was neither black, nor white, but rather of several shades of grey. Well, it seems those shades are getting a bit darker.

Pivovar Kutná Hora wasn't the only brewery that Heineken closed last year. They also sealed the fate of Pivovar Znojmo, which stopped brewing last summer.

After closing down the shop, the Dutch group offered to sell the brewery to the city of Znojmo for CZK 26 million (about a million EU). The city's government is, of course, very interested in buying it, not so much for the brewery itself, but because within its property is located the Rotunda sv. Kateřiny, a small Romanesque church dating from the 11th century, as well as the access to the Znojmo Castle, both sites of great historical and touristic importance.

So far so good. However, there is a condition that Heineken has put to sell the brewery which illustrates very well the attitude that companies like this have towards the concept of "Free Market". If the city of Znojmo decides to buy the brewery, for ten years they, or any other third party, won't be allowed to brew beer in the facilities, and if they decide to open, or allow the functioning of any sort of gastronomic venue, only beers from Heineken CZ will be sold for the same period.

Once the city sorts out the access to the historical sites, these conditions will result in them being stuck with a basically useless building, and will probably have no other option but to sell it, likely to a real state developer or something like that.

What a sick mentality! I understand that the accountants that run the company decided to close down a brewery that had actually been on life support for some time, but that they won't let anyone else make use of the facilities? That a future owner will have to accept such conditions that will leave them with very little choice but give the brewery a final death blow? And that they won't even allow other beers but theirs to be sold there? Are they so afraid of the competition?

This things really make me sick.

Na Zdraví!

Choose a Hotel in Prague in the city centre.

10 comments:

  1. They speak well for the free market when there is something to gain from it, for their shareholders, that is,offcourse.Their goal and reason to excist is to make more profit for them selves, not for the society in which they excist.
    A new brewery founded on local interest and fundings are a too big threat to their marketshare, so they won't allow it.
    It's the face of brutal capitalism
    Marketshares and volume are the mantras of the CEO's.

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  2. Well said, my friend....

    The more I think of it, the more I doubt the legality of those conditions. If there's any lawyer that read this, can you confirm whether those competition crushing conditions are legal or not? And if they are, well, they shouldn't fucking be!

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  3. interesting information. thanks from bringing this to light.

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  4. Patrick from Korea26 January 2010 at 22:42

    Thanks for the intresting background info...
    That's really really sad...it makes me mad...I also think that's not legal, is it??? Czech beer lovers should start a campain to boycott all beer brands owned by Heineken!!! Or start some kind of petition against this...
    By the way, I found this article today. Even more bad news for Czech beer...Heineken AGAIN!!!

    http://www.just-drinks.com/article.aspx?id=99623

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  5. Patrick,

    Thanks for the link. It was something very expected, unfortunately....

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  6. Bunch of bullshit really.

    A propos of nothing, you know about this Pivni putovani Sumavou going on at Kavarna na Sumave (on Sumavska, appropriately enough)? Every few weeks they're opening a few kegs from the region, though from the list on their website it seems a lot of them from the German side of the border (www.kavarnanasumave.cz). Otherwise though they serve Kral Sumavy there, and a block over there's another place that serves Zatec, though I still haven't had a chance to stop by (conservative friends).

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  7. Majk,

    I've spotted that Kavárna and have it due for a visit. Didn't pay too much attention at the "putováni" thig, but if they have stuff from the other side of the border it could be quite interesting, Dampfbiere are right there. Thanks for the tip.

    I was at the Žatec place. 'Twas alright, neighbouhood dive, really, but they have Lučan on tap...

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  8. One draw of the Sumava place is that is the non-traditional set-up of having the larger front room non-smoking and only a small room with two tables in the back for smokers. Not that the front part is all that much bigger, but the difference is quite noticeable.

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  9. That's quite cool, actually... On the other hand, they tap the Král Šumava, a světlý ležák, in 0.4l measures. Why?

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  10. A fair enough question. Considering there are special glasses for it, the first part of the answer is likely that it's more the brewery's decision than the pub's. As to the reason for that decision, my first thought was that it might just be to keep the price lower, but I think the real explanation is that Král Šumavy is actually a 13°, so the slightly smaller serving size is somehow more "decent".

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