Supermarkets are using "crazy" alcohol promotions to drive the Scottish government to introduce tough licensing laws because they want to hurt independents, according to JW Filshill director Simon Hannah.
In an extraordinary outburst, Hannah told the Scottish Grocers' Federation annual suppliers' dinner that irresponsible promotions by the multiples had "tarred the off-trade with the same brush" and led to proposals to ban alcohol multibuy s and restrict the sale of alcohol to designated zones from September 2009.
"The multiple retailers have been trying to attract the government's attention to the take-home business for years with the crazy alcohol promotions they appear to all do on an almost rotational basis," said Hannah.
"I am sure that it frustrates the multiples that they do not have the dominant market share of the alcohol category that they do with grocery and, in my opinion, they are trying to drive more and more government legislation in our direction so that the independent trade gets bogged down with red tape."
Hannah predicted the government's proposed ban on multibuy promotions would simply mean retailers moved from selling three bottles of wine for £10 to selling a single bottle at £3.33 or less.
"Surely this is going to make alcohol more affordable and most certainly more accessible?" said Hannah. "It appears this is a half-hearted attempt to stop the multiple grocers selling three cases of beer for £20."
But Hannah's claims were hotly disputed by Scottish Retail Consortium director Fiona Moriarty.
"This is an extremely competitive marketplace and alcohol is an extremely competitive category. There are deals in small and large retailers alike," she said.
"We are all affected by new legislation and it is not helpful for one part of the market to pass blame on to another, especially as we are all playing our part to promote responsible drinking."