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Trade associations unite to publish high strength scheme retailer advice


Two of the UKs leading trade associations have joined forces to produce new guidance for retailers on schemes run by local authorities that aim to voluntarily remove high strength alcohol from sale.


The Association of Convenience Stores and the Wine and Spirit Trade Association have developed the advice following concerns raised about the approach of the so called “Reducing the Strength” initiatives across the UK.

The guidance sets out the competition risks associated with engaging with an initiative and provides retailers with a framework to assess the quality and effectiveness of an initiative before deciding whether to engage.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said:

"There are undoubtedly competition risks associated with local initiative, so we want to provide retailers with the best tools to make the right decision for their business. We hope this will encourage closer relationships between local authorities and retailers to tackle alcohol harm."

WSTA chief executive, Miles Beale, said:

“While local initiatives begin with the best of intentions, too often they fail to take into account the very serious legal responsibilities retailers have with regards to competition. We hope that this guidance, which builds on the work of the Local Government Association and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), will support retailers when they are approached by authorities running these initiatives."

The proliferation of local initiatives over the last 18 months has been significant with an estimated 84 initiatives in existence. This led the Local Government Association to issue guidance on the development of local authority schemes and an Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group into the legality of ‘Reducing the Strength’ initiatives.

The document ‘Retailer Guidance: ‘Reducing the Strength’ Initiatives’ is available here and complements existing guidance from the CMA on avoiding potential competition risks associated with local schemes.

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