On-trade group slams Tesco ‘hypocrisy’

Tesco has been accused of hypocrisy after publicly backing the government’s vow to ban the sale of alcohol below cost price in a bid to cut binge-drinking in England and Wales.

The coalition set out an 18-month timetable for the measure and also committed to reviewing alcohol taxation and licensing.

Tesco backed the move and said it would also support any attempt to bring in minimum pricing. It claimed its backing for the below-cost ban was based on customer research that predated the government announcement.

Tesco has started to move alcohol unit information to the front of its own-

abels and aims to persuade brand owners to do the same to create an industry standard.

It will also be offering its Challenge 25 staff training package to independent retailers.

Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco’s executive director for corporate and legal affairs, said: “Pricing controls can only be effective if they apply to all alcohol retailers and the only way that can happen is through government taking the lead.

“We acknowledge that our own sales of alcohol might be impacted, but if these measures have the desired effect of helping to reduce harmful drinking, then it will be worth it.”?But Tesco came under fire from on-trade organisation the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, which said the store group’s statements demonstrated “hypocrisy” as they coincided with a promotion selling Carlsberg at the equivalent of 67p a pint.

ALMR chief executive Nick Bish said: “Effectively Tesco is admitting it is not responsible enough to regulate its own behaviour and has no option but to compete on price in the absence of government action.

“We hope that Tesco will start practising what it preaches and will adopt a more responsible approach over the summer.”?Tesco said that “to be effective, any action on price has to involve the whole retail industry” and claimed raising the price of alcohol unilaterally would “have no impact”.

The government’s statement on alcohol policy promised higher fines for under-age sales and permanent licence revocations for persistent offenders.