“The interesting thing about that is that if you look at any promotions in the multiples at present, discounting only starts at €6 for a branded wine product,” she told Drinks Industry Ireland, “The net effect means that this is ‘happy days’ for the multiples for it will continue to take share from the discounters into the mainstream supermarkets.
“I would have a view that the way that Aldi and Lidl retail alcohol is how they retail everything – that is, cheaply. They don’t use alcohol exclusively to gain footfall – unlike the multiples.”
She also laid out the scenario should the minimum price be higher – 71 cent (60 pence) when a bottle of wine would retail for €7.28, a bottle of spirits for €20.13, canned beer for €1.54 and bottled beer for €1.02.
“Minimum pricing is not the answer for discounting alcohol,” she said, “You can go up as high as you like.”
Instead, she advocates the re-introduction of the ban on below-cost selling.
“That’s not to say that minimum pricing is not of some use, but it’s not a panacea. It gives the appearance of action without achieving the desired result for Ministers like Roisin Shortall who’s trying to achieve something.”
She continued, “Terry Leahy, former Chief Executive of Tesco, flagged minimum pricing before he retired three or four years ago. It came across like a moral message but it wasn’t so,” she claimed, “They’d taken the market share in the UK and simply wanted the profit out of it without being seen to do so, so the Government were encouraged to ‘force’ them to take the profit.
“Here, we’ve so much legislation on the books already that hasn’t been enacted — and here’ll be some more now.”
Pubs of Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill agreed that minimum pricing is not a ‘silver bullet’ to alcohol abuse.
“It’s about addressing ‘drinking to get drunk’,” he believed.
“Minimum pricing is not the answer for discounting alcohol, you can go up as high as you like” — NOffLA Chairperson Evelyn Jones.