UK stores lose out to duty dodgers

14 August, 2015

A retailer claims foreign companies are damaging his business by targeting UK shoppers with beers, wines and spirits that do not include duty or VAT.

Derek Clark of Beers of Europe in Norfolk said customers have been telling him they can buy alcohol cheaper online as they do not have to worry about taxes when purchasing from sites based in countries such as Belgium, Germany and Spain.

He told OLN: “Every year since we opened we have grown 15%, but this year we are down 15% and it’s going to Belgium.

“There are sites that sell a litre of gin for £5. It might cost a bit to get it shipped over, but if the shopper buys six bottles it’s worth it for them.

“Anyone selling alcohol in the UK has to pay duty and VAT – that’s the law – but these sites don’t pay duty or VAT on products.

“They can sell drinks cheaper than the price of duty and I can’t compete with that. No one can.”

Clark showed OLN a host of online sites that target UK shoppers but pay only duty and VAT in the countries in which they are based, rather than in the UK.

The law states that anyone selling alcohol in the UK has to be registered for duty and VAT here, but Clark claims European retailers are flouting these laws.

He has complained to his MP but has been frustrated to find that companies continue to steal market share from him in this manner.

He said: “These people have hit our turnover by 15%. We can’t compete.

“This must be affecting a lot of other retailers and something needs to be done about it. Dealers must be buying these products as it is so cheap for them.”




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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