As a matter of routine I asked an executive from a multinational company if he keeps in touch with his counterparts outside the country as to how they market their brands abroad. His response: due to price-fixing sensitivity, the default position was not to pick up the phone to them!
In a similar fashion, the lack of enthusiasm by Government to re-introduce a ban on below-cost selling – that bifurcating bain on both the licensed trade and the health services – seems more related to accusations of “price-fixer” than political probity.
But step, if you will, outside the rigid confines of EU policy and see the effectiveness with which other jurisdictions police cheap alcohol.
The Ozzie authorities in New South Wales have no compunction about warning applicants for new liquor licences that selling alcohol too cheaply may be hazardous to their health in terms of their chances of getting the licence approved.
The NSW Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority sent something less than Season’s Greetings to Woolworths, Coles and Aldi stores there last Christmas when it sought information about where the stores stood on alcohol pricing before determining the outcome of their applications for 17 new liquor licences.
Not only that – but horror of EU horrors – it went on to test their psychological mettle by seeking out their views on what weighting the Authority should give to alcohol pricing when adjudicating on new licence applications!
In doing so, the authority had taken note of some stores’ pre-Christmas advertising theme to the effect: “war declared on liquor prices”. Pretty blatant stuff compared to our own Soft Shoe Shuffle around minimum pricing and below-cost selling.
”The authority is concerned about introducing new outlets offering heavily discounted liquor in local communities vulnerable to alcohol-related harm,” said a straight-talking Authority Chairman Chris Sidoti.
Woolworths is understood to have written to the Authority reserving its right to take legal action to which, I’m sure, NSWCLGCA’s uncompromising reaction will be ‘Bring It On!’.
Would that such a forthright licensing policy could be the case here…