Wholesalers across the country have reported improved alcohol sales as HMRC’s clampdown on rogue traders in the supply chain begins to bite.
Cash & carry giant Bestway said alcohol sales had grown by double digits in recent weeks. “Sales are improving and most depots are reporting that the ‘white van man’ option has diminished significantly,” said Batleys operations director Martin Race. “Alcohol suppliers have struggled to keep up with demand and although sales are still not back to the days before the issue started, they are in double-digit growth over recent weeks.”
The FWD said members had also reported a marked decrease in the number of flyers distributed by rogue traders and a reduction in the number of lines and volumes they advertised. Beer sales had grown steadily over the past six months, it added, suggesting the boost was down to more than good weather.
“The FWD has campaigned hard for HMRC to invest in tackling alcohol duty fraud and it appears our message has been heard,” said chief executive James Bielby. “However the loss to both the Treasury and the legitimate trade is still considerable. Further investment, as promised in the Budget, should ensure that pressure remains on this damaging trade.”
Suppliers have also reported sales boosts. Jon Whittle, Budvar UK’s off-trade director, said take-home sales of Budvar had reached a 10-year volume high in June. Heavy promotions in cash & carries had pushed sales, he added.
The news comes as Customs officers ramp up their efforts to target anyone involved in the supply and retail of illicit products.
A trial to revoke the alcohol premise licences of retailers caught selling illicit alcohol claimed its first success when International Foods in Boston, Lincs, had its licence to sell alcohol revoked for life this week.
HMRC has also warned hauliers not to participate in the movement of alcohol, particularly British beer and branded New World wine, to the Continent.