Minimum pricing is only way to tackle supermarkets, says operator

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cheap supermarket deals Minimum pricing Alcoholic beverage Supermarket Marketing Michael kheng

A high profile multiple pub operator has argued minimum pricing is the only way to tackle cheap supermarket deals - and called on licensees to spread...

A high profile multiple pub operator has argued minimum pricing is the only way to tackle cheap supermarket deals - and called on licensees to spread that message to MPs.

Michael Kheng, of the Lincolnshire-based Kurnia Group, believes the supermarkets could find a way round a ban on below-cost selling, currently being proposed by the government.

He also wants trade groups to get involved in the lobbying effort.

"I feel we need to highlight to all MPs around the country that the only sensible way forward would be a minimum price per unit of alcohol, either before or after duty and VAT," Kheng said.

"Without a minimum price per unit the supermarkets will always find a way to sell alcohol at a ridiculously low price."

On the issue of how supermarkets might get a around a ban on selling below-cost, he added: "If the legislation stated no below cost sales then what would be the case if a supermarket purchased a pallet or Tetleys in cans and then received a free pallet of Carlsberg for every pallet of Tetley's purchased.

"The Carlsberg would have come in free so therefore the cost would be zero so effectively they could sell the cans of Carlsberg at 1p."

Kheng, who owns and operates six venues in the Lincolnshire area, is also hoping to galvanise the industry into submitting licence reviews of Tescos around the country to highlight the problem of cheap deals.

He admitted this may be difficult, but suggested it would generate some publicity around the issue.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) said it supported the idea of educating MPs about the "realities" of below-cost selling, but appeared to dodge the issue of minimum pricing.

Kate Nicholls of the ALMR said the group will engage with the government to ensure any legislation is "tightly drafted" and "avoids any degree of wriggle room".

"We also need to make sure that efforts to tackle unregulated consumption fuelled by irresponsible promotions in the off-trade are taken forward in an holistic fashion. It is not enough just to deal with price, we also need to deal with when and how alcohol is sold in supermarkets," she added.

Nicholls also said the mandatory code needed to be amended to tackle off-trade deals.

  • The Publican​ is currently campaigning for a minimum price of 50p through its Make it the Minimum ​ initiative.

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