Tesco defends itself against binge-drinking charge

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Mp john grogan Labour party Gordon brown House of lords

Tesco has been forced to respond after Labour MP John Grogan labelled its chief executive "the godfather of British binge-drinking".The chairman of...

Tesco has been forced to respond after Labour MP John Grogan labelled its chief executive "the godfather of British binge-drinking".

The chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group¹s comments came ahead of a Commons debate which saw MPs ramp up the pressure on the government to take decisive action over supermarkets selling alcohol at below-cost price.

As The Publican went to press Grogan and Eric Illsley MP, both vocal supporters of the pub trade, were debating the issue in the House of Commons with a government minister leading the proceedings.

The debate, on "the health consequences of the availability of cheap alcohol", was being seen as a chance for MPs to turn up the heat on supermarkets over cheap booze deals.

Speaking at last week¹s BII NITA Awards ceremony in London the day before the debate, Grogan said: "I shall be accusing [Tesco chief executive] Terry Leahy of being the godfather of British binge-drinking. It's time he faced up to his responsibilities."

A Tesco spokesman described Grogan's comments as "as offensive as they are inaccurate".

"They do nothing to inform the serious social debate on binge-drinking," he said. "Alcohol abuse is a serious concern to us all and we are playing a leading role in the efforts to tackle it.

"The vast majority of alcohol bought at Tesco forms part of the weekly family shop. We also know people tend to stock up on beers and wines for home use during promotional periods and consequently buy less at other times."

Eric Illsley, MP for Barnsley, told The Publican prior to the debate: "Supermarket beer pricing is definitely having an effect on the pub trade.

"Pubs are a controlled environment and raise their prices in line with inflation. But the price of alcohol in supermarkets is less in real terms than it was 20 years ago."

Hopes for government action on the issue were boosted after Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the House of Commons that a paper "suggesting changes" on the issue of cheap alcohol was due to be published.

During an exchange on November 29, referring to the previous summit meeting over alcohol, Brown said: "One of the concerns that was raised was the price of alcohol. Another was the special promotions that were being done by the supermarkets.

"Another was the intensive advertising by supermarkets. We will be publishing a paper suggesting changes in the next few weeks."

Related topics Beer

Property of the week


£ 60,000 - Leasehold

Busy location on coastal main road Extensively renovated detached public house Five trade areas (100)  Sizeable refurbished 4-5 bedroom accommodation Newly created beer garden (125) Established and popular business...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more