The chief executive of Interbrew UK, Stewart Gilliland, has attacked the standards of barstaff training in Britain, saying that two pints in every five of lager, ale or stout served up in the country's pubs and bars are sub-standard because of staff failures.

The problems range from pints served at the wrong temperature to dirty glasses to the wrong sized head, Gilliland said, a situation he found "unacceptable", and he called upon retailers to appoint "quality champions" to ensure customers get the best pint possible.

He contrasted the difference in attitudes to staff training in continental Europe, where bar personnel are taught how to pour properly to ensure the proper sized head, what glasses should be used with which beer and how to present the full glass to the customer, with the UK, where, he said, training too often consists of being shown where the till is.

Brewers in the UK had concentrated on product quality as beer leaves the brewery, Gilliland said, but Interbrew now wanted to work with beer outlets to work on problems such as quality at the bar, to help improve beer sales. He criticised British bar owners' reluctance to take up promotions such as branded glasses, for fear of their being stolen, saying: "Even students can only steal so many glasses."

Beer is still the biggest volume alcoholic drink in the country, he said, but it has "clearly lost it a bit" against the challenges of wine and PPS drinks. Interbrew's prediction is that beer sales will decline another 4% by 2007, having already decline by 5% between 1997 and 2001. Within that, he said, sales of lager will grow, while the top four beer brands will increase their share of the market from 30% to 40%.

The challenge for the beer industry was to respond on five different fronts, image, pricing, quality, availability and innovation, he said. Beer had to get away from the image of the pint in a back-street boozer. He also criticised the brewing industry for its lack of innovation in terms of liquid, packaging and dispense. Gilliland said after the Interbrew acquisition it was "exciting" to now be part of a business that understood beer, which had not been the case in the days of Whitbread and Bass, two companies more interested in retailing and hotels. The task now, he said, was to build up acros the retail industry in the UK the pride and passion about beer that they felt on the Continent.