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Minimum Pricing on Alcohol in Wales Will Radically Change Market, says Lawyers Winckworth Sherwood

Wales will introduce minimum pricing on alcohol from 2 March 2020, radically changing the licensed trade and adding pressure on England to follow, say licensing lawyers Winckworth Sherwood.

The new legislation will require retailers, bars, restaurants and off licences to charge a minimum of 50p per unit of alcohol, echoing legislation introduced in Scotland in 2018.

Robert Botkai, a Partner and Head of Commercial Real Estate and Licensing at Winckworth Sherwood said: “This legislation will mean that a can of super-strength lager currently retail at £1 will, on 2 March, increase to £2.25, and a 2.5 litre bottle of white cider, currently retailing at £4 will increase to £9.40.”

In Scotland, the impact of minimum alcohol pricing has seen sales of high strength white cider and beer dropping with products sold around the minimum price point seeing a slight increase.

Robert adds: “As in Scotland, the legislation in Wales will apply to promotions and multi-buy transactions, including buy-one get one free deals and staff discounts. The legislation requires that the total retail price must be at or above the minimum price point as if the promotion were not applied.”

“It is also important to remember that this is not a tax, with additional revenues retained by retailers not the State.”

Retailers who breach the regulations may be issued with a £200 fixed penalty notice. Local authorities also have powers to proceed with prosecutions and licence reviews.

Robert adds: “Businesses engaged in the sale of alcohol need to review their pricing structures and upcoming promotions, making sure that any promotions running in England are not automatically replicated in Wales or Scotland. Pricing displayed on stock must be reviewed and changed so as not to mislead the public or violate the new legislation.”

Robert concludes: “There is currently no plan to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol in England, but this move will increase pressure to act. Public Health England has, however, confirmed that it will undertake a review of alcohol retailing and whether there is a case for its introduction.”