One of Scotland’s top retailers has made a passionate plea for the industry to tackle underage sales - as licensing topped the agenda at the Scottish Grocers’ Federation annual conference.
Lizette Craig, MD of Botterills Convenience Stores, urged her industry colleagues to develop strategies for eliminating sales of alcohol to kids as they faced up to the licensing revolution underway in Scotland.
Craig reminded delegates that Botterills had been focusing on this issue for two years and said its stores were now recording a 98% pass rate in mystery shopper tests of its policy to ask those who looked younger than 21 for ID when buying alcohol.
In December, Botterills started testing the performance of rival retailers. Craig said that while the multiples scored a 100% pass rate, the discount stores scored a 100% failure rate and other managed chains had a 33% failure rate.
“We are contributing to Scotland’s underage drinking culture and we must resolve to do something about this,” she said. “It’s our staff in our stores who are selling to kids. We must work responsibly.”
New SGF president Pete Cheema also cited licensing as one of the biggest issues facing the trade. He said retailers were making every effort to prevent underage sales - but a national ID card would be a welcome aid.
He also said the SGF would continue to lobby Parliament to rethink the reduced licensing hours - 10am to 10pm - in Scotland’s new Licensing Act, which comes into force in 2009. “Preventing sales of alcohol in the morning will not stop the problems of underage sales or binge drinking,” he said.
US food giant Heinz’s third-quarter net profit to January 25 fell 23% to $116.6m on sales up 5.7% to $2.19bn. The group, which last month agreed the sale of its European seafood business, said it was continuing to explore the sale of other non-core businesses.

Australian supermarket chain Woolworths’ half-year group pre-tax profit to January 1 rose 31.5% to A$902.4m on sales up 18.4% to A$19.1bn. Woolworths said that the rise in profit was helped by acquisitions and strong performance in its supermarket division, where pre-tax profit increased 22.3% to A$703.4m.
Drinks group Diageo has teamed up with Russian conglomerate Alfa Group, owner of the Smirnov vodka brand, in a joint venture that will allow Diageo to distribute Smirnov, Smirnoff and other Diageo brands in Russia. As part of the agreement, subject to approval from Russian authorities, Diageo will pay Alfa Group $50m in return for a 75% stake in the joint venture.

Procter & Gamble has claimed that its sales are bigger than those of its its arch rival, Unilever, in emerging markets. AG Lafley, chief executive of P&G, told the annual meeting of the Consumer Analyst Group of New York: “P&G’s developing market business is bigger than Unilever’s.” However, at the same event, Patrick Cescau, chief executive of Unilever, said Unilever had P&G “for dessert and coffee” in some markets.

Marc Smith, chief executive of Dutch retailer Ahold’s US supermarket chain Stop & Shop, has announced his retirement. He has worked at Stop & Shop since 1988 and has been CEO since 2000.
Julian Hunt
n Heinz profit up
n Woolworths rises
n Russian deal
n P&G vs Unilever
n Smith to retire