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