Speaking at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) conference in London, Payne said it’s “the worst thing that could happen to the industry”, and giving the Government control of prices is “asking for trouble”.
He compared it to the situation with university tuition fees, that were initially set at £2,000 by the previous Government and have now reached as much as £9,000.
The Government has proposed a 40p minimum unit price and Payne said: “All of a sudden 40p is £4.
“To set something at 40/50p that at the moment seems very good for the industry at some stage down the line if we give the Government control of retail prices it will hurt you.”
Martin called minimum pricing a “red herring” and urged the industry to lobby for a VAT cut for the sector instead.
“We in the industry are very slow to pick up on this point. If the tax structure doesn’t change there’s no doubt in my mind there will be fewer pubs.”
However, Payne said the industry doesn’t have “a snowball’s chance in hell” of getting a VAT reduction. “I can’t see it. I think we should be lobbying for what we can achieve,” he stressed, calling for the industry to argue for bans on bulk alcohol deals in supermarkets and the the right of supermarkets to advertise cut-price alcohol in newspapers.