Scottish shops face £12 million bill for Act

Scottish retailers will face major “disruption and average costs of £2,000 each” to designate alcohol areas in their shops, a top trade figure has warned.

Shop owners are required, under Scotland’s licensing law changes, to specify

one alcohol display area when they apply for their new personal and premises


Alcohol displays may have to be reorganised as a result, according to

Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) chief executive John Drummond.

“The biggest problem is if there’s a designated chiller given to alcohol which may not be in part of what the retailer thinks of as his alcohol area right now.

This would mean having to integrate the chiller into the alcohol area,” he said.

With more than 6,000 off-licences in Scotland, the total cost of re-organising

shops and preparing floorplans could exceed £12 million.

Drinks shop owners will also be forced to shoulder the financial costs of training multiple personal licence holders to comply with the new laws. Drummond

estimated that the SGF’s convenience store members would also have to pay

around £300 each for extra training.

He said: “The Act says there is no need for a personal licence holder to be on the premises at all times. But police, through the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, have said if any incidents are reported and they find no personal licence holder on the premises then there will be trouble.”

Drummond has also criticised the power the new regulations give licensing

boards, with some making “outrageous demands on retailers”.

Some boards “have said retailers need partitions built and a separate alcohol

department created in store,” he said.

“What actually needs to happen is all the alcohol should be grouped together

on the same shelves. We need to make sure there’s consistency of approach on

this issue.”

Scottish retailers will have from Feb 1 next year to apply for their new personal and premises licences and, unlike England and Wales, there will be no

grandfather rights, or automatic transferral of licence conditions.

The transition to the new licensing system in Scotland will take 19 months,

but cut-off dates for applications will be staggered by expiry date in an effort to avoid the chaos that licensing change caused to English and Welsh authorities

in 2005.

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 will come into force at 5am on Sept 1 2009.