NOffLA fears soaring cross-border trade

Liberty Wines’ Kaiken ‘Terroir Series’ Vistaflores won the National Off-Licence Association’s Wine of the Year 2018-2019 at last night’s Irish Wine Show Star Awards at SIP 2018, held in Dublin's Morrison Hotel.

The 2017 New World Red also won the Best Red Wine award. It’s price category is Under €20. Mackenway Distributors’ Callia Alta Pinot Grigio 2018 won the White Wine of the Year with its New World wine priced at under €15.

In all, the National Off-Licence Association awarded its annual Irish Wine Show Star Awards to 45 wines at SIP 2018. Now in its 18th year, the winning wines from the Irish Wine Show Star Awards will be available to consumers all over the country from NOffLA outlets.

Each of the winning wines will be sold in NOffLA member outlets, of which there are more than 315 nationwide. The chosen wines will be recognisable by distinctive Award symbols on each bottle. In the pre-Christmas period NOffLA members will promote the Irish Wine Show Star Awards 2018-2019 Collection as ideal Christmas gifts in a variety of special gift packs.

Over 600 wines were submitted to the Star Award adjudication panel of NOffLA judges and independent wine journalists. Points were awarded on the basis of appearance, smell, taste and value-for-money criteria and the winning 15 were selected as the best wines from key suppliers across a number of price categories.

At the event, NOffLA again called on the Government to reduce excise duty on alcohol ahead of today’s Budget, specifically wine which is currently taxed on average 624% higher in Ireland than other EU countries.

Speaking at the awards, NOffLA Chairman Gary O’Donovan congratulated the winners and commented on the current trading environment, noting, “This annual event allows us to celebrate some of the finest products sold by our highly-trained members around the country. NOffLA members are committed to excellence both in terms of personal service and the high-quality wines that we offer.

“However, this offering is under serious threat due to cross-border trade following on from the 15% reduction in the value of the Sterling since the Brexit referendum in 2016 and 25% difference in cost between Ireland and UK. We fear that cross-border trade will soar depending on the final deal between the UK and EU and are calling on government to act now to protect the domestic Irish drinks industry through a reduction in excise duty.”


Cross-border concerns

Given the devaluation of Sterling and the lower rates of excise and VAT charged in the UK, cross-border illicit trade and the smuggling of alcohol has been given an added impetus. The number of Revenue seizures of alcohol products increased greatly in 2016 compared with previous years according to NOffLA. In 2016, for example, there were 1,875 seizures of alcohol products compared to 938 in 2015, an increase of 99% year-on-year. This year it stayed at this high level, with 1,819 seizures. However, the value of these seizures was higher than in 2016. This compares to 550 seizures in 2014, 507 seizures in 2013, and 359 in 2012.

“The current trading environment is exacerbated by punitive excise rates and NOffLA members are being locked out of the economic recovery by the government, members who are under significant financial pressure, given as much as 50% of the cost of a bottle of wine is excise & VAT,” said Gary O’Donovan.

Reducing excise duty will lead to job creation and investment in local communities, believes the Association, allowing the economic recovery to spread beyond urban centres and throughout the rest of Ireland.

NOffLA also pointed out that Ireland’s tourism industry has grown significantly in recent years, though it still demonstrates a strong dependence on the British market, with 35% of all tourists coming from the UK between January and August 2018 – this is more than the entirety of the EU combined, according to NOffLA. However, this proportion of trips to Ireland by residents of Great Britain has decreased from 37%, when compared to the same period last year.

“Despite Ireland’s strong economic performance NOffLA members continue to struggle with current excise levels,” stated the NOffLA Chairman, “In the context of the current trading environment and the looming uncertainty and dangers of Brexit, 81% of surveyed off-licence retailers believe that a 15% reduction in excise on alcohol will mitigate against the likely impacts of Brexit.”

Considering the recovery has not yet been felt in many parts of Ireland Brexit threatens to decimate the already sparse employment levels along border counties as cross-border trade, fuelled by exchange rates, asymmetrical excise and VAT regimes increases.

81% of respondents to NOffLA’s 2018  Members’ Survey, which accounts for more than 1,200 employees, believe that a reduction of excise duty would combat the likely impact of Brexit. Import excise is frequently payable at the point of entry or with 30 days’ credit; a lack of available finance from banks puts severe pressure on working capital for wine importers and retailers and if the excise is not paid then there’s no product to sell, creating a credit crunch, ultimately costing jobs.


Multiples contracting the market

NOffLA members also continue to see market contractions and 96% of them cite deep discounting and promotions by large supermarkets as the most significant reasons for this.

NOffLA also believes that a ‘Remote Off-Trade Licence’ should be created by the Department of Justice in the upcoming Sale of Alcohol Bill.



2018 Gold Star Award Winners

Category Wine Name Vintage Company
Old World White Under €10 Clos De Corten Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Mackenway Distributors
Old World White Under €15 Agenda da Vinha Bianca 2017 Cassidy Wines
Old World White Under €20 Réserve Mont-Redon Côte Du Rhône Blanc 2017 Mackenway Distibutors
New World White Under €10 Santa Carolina Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Ampersand Wines
New World White Under €15 Callia Alta Pinot Grigio 2018 Mackenway Distributors
New World White Under €20 Pear Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Mackenway Distributors
Rosé Under €15 Doña Paula Rosé of Malbec 2018 Santa Rita Estates
Old World Red Under €10 Da Vero Vino Rosso Biologico 2017 Ampersand Wines
Old World Red Under €15 Rioja Vega Crianza 2015 Ampersand Wines
Old World Red Under €20 Coto de Imaz Reserva 2014 Mackenway Distributors
New World Red Under €10 Kelly’s Patch Shiraz 2017 Niche Vines by Counterpoint
New World Red Under €15 Doña Paula Estate, Black Edition 2016 Gilbeys
New World Red Under €20 Kaiken “Terroir Series” Vistaflores 2017 Liberty Wines
Sparkling Under €25 Villa Conchi, Cava Brut Selección NV Tindal Wine Merchants
Sparkling/Champagne Under €60 Pommery Brut Royal Champagne NV Dalcassian Wines & Spirits
New World White Under €15 Callia Alta Pinot Grigio


2018 Mackenway Distributors
New World Red Under €20 Kaiken “Terroir Series” Vistaflores

WINE OF THE YEAR 2018-2019

2017 Liberty Wines


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