Suppliers should offer supermarket discounts to on-trade – Gerry Rafter

In his closing address at this year’s VFI Conference the outgoing President Gerry Rafter addressed the issue of the Federation’s relationship with suppliers.

“Two years ago it was at a low ebb,” he remembered, “Draconian cutbacks had led to a very poor service for rural publicans in particular.

“After difficult negotiations over the past two years we now feel our relationship is in a more positive place than it was. We thank our suppliers for working with us but we don’t thank them for their strong and influencing role in sales of cheap alcohol in supermarkets,” he claimed.

“We were told that they’re not supplying cheap alcohol to the supermarkets but it doesn’t seem that way in the prices being charged.

“My question to our suppliers is, why couldn’t we have received the same kind of discount as was given to multiples on a recent Bank Holiday weekend if they want to drive sales?

“If they want us to believe that we’re their core business then they’ll have to do this.”

The biggest bane of the licensed trade over the past number of years has been the availability of cheap alcohol and its abuse by supermarkets, believed the outgoing President.

He bemoaned the fact that the Government was merely talking about this but doing nothing else.

“The Government must legislate now” he declared, “or are we going to see yet another excuse with Shatter resigning just as was the case with Roisin Shortall?

“The Lid Levy was given a big flat ‘no’ by Michael Noonan but we’ve been waiting too long while customers’ pockets are being emptied by the household tax, the water charges and soon, a health charge,” he said.

He subsequently explained to Drinks Industry Ireland: “My conviction is that over the past number of years it’s no coincidence that the off-trade has thrived to gain 60% or more of the total alcohol sold where the on-trade had 70% 10 years ago.

“I don’t think supermarkets are selling below-cost but have enjoyed huge discounts by suppliers. I firmly believe that multiples are being funded by heavy discounts from suppliers.”

He knew of one publican with an off-trade who’d brought this to his attention.

“He was able to tell me that a certain prominent beer brand had been discounted over and above it’s normal discount just for the Easter Weekend alone with €5 off the normal discount price.

“So why not give us €5 a keg off?”

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