Four out of 200 independent retailers sign up to alcohol sale conduct code

JUST four out of 200 independent retailers who are licensed to sell alcohol are taking part in an industry-operated scheme regarding the sale of alcohol.

Supermarkets, conveniences stores and newsagents operate a voluntary code of conduct on the sale of alcohol as well as limits on advertising.

The code was accepted by the previous justice minster Dermot Ahern as an alternative to enacting provisions in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 on the separation of alcohol from other products on sale in the relevant shops and supermarkets.

Responsible Retailing of Alcohol in Ireland (RRAI) was set up by the industry to oversee the implementation of the code and carry out audits on compliance.

The second compliance report by RRAI, which is chaired by Padraic White, said 13 groups, covering 2,900 stores were involved in the code. These groups represented 85% of licences in the mixed-trade sector and 95% of the volume of alcohol sold in this sector.

It said Dunnes (with 100 licences), the Gala Group (206 licences) and Costcutter Group (226) joined the other participating supermarkets and convenience stores in September 2009.

The report said they had identified 200 independent retailers to join the code and approached them between March and May 2010.

However, only four had agreed to come on board.

“Although the proportion of alcoholic products sold by independent retailers is small (about 5% of the mixed trade sector) the response to the invitation to join the code process so far is disappointing,” said the report.

The report pointed out that off-licences continued to be excluded from the code and said this should be addressed.

Based on an audit of 12% of members, the RRAI said that 84% of stores (91% of supermarkets and 79% of convenience stores) were compliant.

This included a 100% compliance rate by Aldi, Lidl and Marks & Spencer, while Dunnes and SuperValu scored 95% compliance.

It said the RRAI received 58 complaints and that there were plans to introduce a hotline telephone number.

The report said the board of the RRAI would review the online sale of alcohol following the RTÉ Prime Time programme on August 2010 on the sale and delivery of alcohol to underage people.

The report said that two members, Tesco and Superquinn, had acknowledged “deficiencies in their compliance procedures” and had committed to addressing the problem.

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