Innis & Gunn slams abv restrictions
Scottish beer brand Innis & Gunn has slammed Reducing the Strength schemes, claiming they are anti-competitive, a blow to consumers and a threat to the UK’s burgeoning craft beer market.
It is one of a number of suppliers that have lost out in towns and cities including Ipswich and Portsmouth, where retailers have been under pressure to strip shelves of beer and cider over a specified abv.
Crawford Sinclair, UK sales director at Innis & Gunn, said: “Our beers and our competitors’ beers – which are fantastic products – are unavailable for consumers to purchase and it’s a real blow to the consumer. It’s anti-competitive and a real issue for us.”
Innis & Gunn has started experiencing trouble in its heartland as Edinburgh retailers have had conditions imposed on their licences banning them from selling beer and cider above 5.5% abv.
“It has come to our doorstep with major retailers in Edinburgh,” said Sinclair. “Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local and Morrisons Local all opened near to each other in the city centre [on Shandwick Place and Princess Street].
“We do a lot of business with these retailers so we though it was good news for us, so we paid these stores a visit and found none of our beers. We are the number two or three bottled ale seller in Scotland and growing ahead of the market, so we expected distribution.
“I spoke to the buyers and they couldn’t understand it. After a bit of digging we found out these stores didn’t have a licence to sell beer of a certain abv. That came as a blow to us. Convenience is the fastest growing channel in retail and we find that convenience stores are being targeted in this way.”
Edinburgh City Council confirmed that the stores and several others in the city had seen conditions imposed on a case-by-case basis. But it was unable to say why the conditions are being imposed before OLN went to press.
Sinclair said: “It is random because there is a Co-op nearby which is selling a full range of beer and cider up to 8% abv, so we think it’s new stores that are being targeted. It’s the thin end of the wedge. It could soon move to existing stores and bars.”