Government urged to clamp down on reckless discounting of alcohol

The National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) has called on the government to immediately commence Minimum Unit Pricing under the Public Health (Alcohol) Act, and to develop separate regulations regarding the reckless promotion of alcohol at below invoice cost.

The call was made at the annual ‘Off-Licence of the Year Awards 2019’ which took place at the Honorable Society of King’s Inns.

Now in its twenty-third year, the awards recognise and showcase excellence in the independent off-licence sector, which represents 315 specialist businesses throughout the country. The awards highlight those retailers that offer exceptional service to customers and demonstrate excellence in retail standards.

Speaking at the awards, NOffLA Chairman, Gary O’Donovan said, “The annual NOffLA awards highlight the expertise of the independent off-licence sector, showcasing the benchmark of personal service in our industry, as well as the top-quality products offered by our highly trained, specialist members.”

 NOffLA members have expressed concerns regarding the scale of deep discounting by supermarkets during the Christmas festive period, prompted by the forthcoming minimum unit pricing regime.

 NOffLA Chairman Gary O’Donovan further commented that “As socially conscious independent retailers, NOffLA welcomed the enactment of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act in 2018. That said, NOffLA is concerned by the failure to commence Minimum Unit Pricing, and the failure by Government to commit to a definite timeline for commencement”.

 “In light of this fact, we are calling on the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD, to either develop specific regulations clamping down on the irresponsible marketing and retail of alcohol, namely the sale of alcohol at below invoice cost, or immediately commence minimum unit pricing”.

 “The repealing of the Groceries Order in 2006 has resulted in the promotion of irresponsibly discounted branded alcoholic products, driving footfall in multiples where the losses are recouped through the sale of other goods, as well as reclaimed by retailers through VAT, costing the Exchequer €24 million per annum”.

 “While tonight we celebrate the best that the industry has to offer, Ireland remains without a responsible alcohol pricing policy. Indeed, the Government has come under sustained pressure from multinational food retailers and supermarkets, seeking a prioritisation of sectoral revenues over public health.”

The awards, which included 36 finalists, saw Blackrock Cellar awarded ‘National Off-Licence of the Year 2019’, Baggot Street Wines won ‘Responsible Retailer of the Year 2019’ and Eoin Stokes, of Molloy’s Liquor Store Tallaght, won ‘RTC Online Trainee of the Year 2019’.

All 36 finalists were awarded certificates of either ‘Merit’ or ‘Excellence’ and a Customer Service Award based on their performance. Other awards on the night included:

  • The NOffLA Food Retailer Off-Licence of the Year 2019 – Donnybrook Fair, Dublin 4
  • The El Coto Customer Service Award of the Year 2019 – The Vintry
  • The Redbreast Spirit Specialist of the Year 2019 – James Redmond & Sons Ltd.
  • The Hop House 13 Beer Specialist of the Year 2019 – Martin’s Off-Licence
  • The Dona Paula Wine Specialist of the Year 2019 – Mitchell & Son CHQ
  • The Hennessy Munster Off-Licence of the Year 2019 – Galvins Carry Out Carrigaline
  • The Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin Connaught/Ulster Off-Licence of the Year 2019 – Dalys Drinks
  • The Montes Leinster Off-Licence of the Year 2019 – The Wine Centre, Kilkenny
  • The Bombay Sapphire Dublin Off-Licence of the Year 2019 – Jus de Vine
  • The NOffLA RTC Online Trainee of the Year 2019 – Eoin Stokes, Molloy’s Liquor Store Tallaght
  • The NOffLA Responsible Retailer of the Year 2019 – Baggot Street Wines
  • The NOffLA National Off-Licence of the Year 2019 –  Blackrock Cellar

Judging for the awards began in June 2018 with the ongoing judging process culminating in a blind wine tasting which involved participants answering questions about the unidentified wines. Final awards were allocated following this process.

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