Tesco faces drinks sales ban

Supermarket caught out by test purchasing stings on two occasions

Nigel Huddleston

A Tesco store in Kent could be barred from selling alcohol after being caught in a test purchasing operation.

Maidstone Borough Council handed out a three-month licence suspension to the Tesco Express shop

in London Road, Maidstone, but the company has been given 21 days to appeal. The suspension period cannot come into operation until the 21 days have ela psed.

The council also added strict new conditions to the store's licence. If Tesco manages to successfully demonstrate it has met the m, the suspension may not come into force.

The conditions include better training of staff, improved record-keeping and a new CCTV system.

A Tesco spokesman said: "This is a ­constant challenge and one

we are dete rmined to meet. It goes without saying that we are disappointed with the decision, but we are striving to tighten our already rigorous pro cedures on alcohol sales so that we can minimise the risk."

Maidstone Police said

the store had fallen foul of test purchases

on two ­occasions -

in January 2006 and

March of

this year.

Major boost for Finest wine range

Tesco is adding 24 wines to its Finest range as part of what it calls "a significant category review".

Wines from Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Italy, Spain and the US

will bring the


up to 75, out of a total of 248 own-labels in the Tesco portfolio.

New Finest listings include a Sancerre and a reserva Rioja.

Other Spanish additions include wines from Rueda and Ribera del Duero.

Prosecco, an Argentinian Chardonnay /Viognier and Australian Pinot Grigio also join the range.

Wine category manager Jason Godley said: "With these new additions

we are now able to offer a more dynamic Finest range which gives people the confidence to experiment with unusual grape varieties, new countries and interesting blends, with the reassurance of the Tesco brand."