A recent meeting with the Minister for Small Business, John Perry, gave NOffLA chairperson, Evelyn Jones, an opportunity to highlight the impact of the current economic situation on the independent off-trade: “Since 2008, 48 independent off-licences have ceased trading which represents almost 2,400 job losses in counties all over Ireland,” she said.
The National Off-Licence Association welcomed the recent opportunity to meet with the Minister to outline NOffLA members’ concerns about the survival of the independent off-licence sector in Ireland.
The Minister was reminded of the factors that have led to the closures of these businesses, including the deregulation of licenses; repeal of the Groceries Order in 2006; inconsistent application of planning rules relating to alcohol; reduced operating hours; and the reliance on an inadequate voluntary Code of Practicefor the separation of alcohol products and for using alcohol as an advertising and promotional tool.
The NOffLA chairperson explained to the Minister that, “independent off-licences cannot compete with mixed trading premises that use alcohol to drive footfall in order to sell other dearer non-alcohol products.”
Providing a context for the current situation, Evelyn Jones contrasted the current environment with the historical situation: “Prior to the abolition of the Groceries Order in 2006, it wasn’t possible to sell alcohol at below cost. That situation has certainly changed. The latest volume deal is now to buy two 20 packs of premium branded beer for €25. This type of selling is just irresponsible and dangerous.”
NOffLA welcomed the Minister’s invitation to make a submission to the Advisory Group for Small Business and looks forward to meeting the group to discuss the ways in which this important specialist sector can be saved.