'Minimum price means illicit trade' – Sainsbury's

10 March, 2010

Leading retailers have warned that minimum pricing in Scotland could drive the alcohol market into the hands of illicit traders.

Nick Grant, head of legal services at Sainsbury’s, told the Scottish Parliament’s Health & Sport Committee, that such a move would be “absolutely the wrong place to go”

Grant said: “If you create a market for the man or woman in the white van you’re putting the sale of alcohol into the hands of people who have no corporate responsibility whatsoever.

“You would find the white van in housing estates with strong lager at a compelling price.”

David Paterson, Scottish affairs manager for Asda, said minimum pricing would see the bottom tier of alcohol brands and own-label come out of the market, cross-border shopping and consumers circumnavigate the legislation by internet shopping.

Cross-border trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic was an example of what could happen between Scotland and England, he added.

“Our store in Enniskillen is the number one store in our UK chain [for alcohol] and the number six in the global Wal-Mart chain.

“That’s primarily driven by the difference in price [caused by duty and exchange rates]. The bulk of it is people driving from Dublin an hour and 40 minutes away and a third of its transactions are in Euros.”

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