‘Structural separation’ delayed by a year

‘Structural separation’ delayed by a year

An independent retail lobby has received confirmation ‘structural separation’ between alcohol and grocery sales displays will not be in force for at least a year after the election.

The news came after RGDATA’s director general Tara Buckley and the association’s board met senior officials in the Department of Health and Children to express concerns with the proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

On the issue of structural separation, the association said it received assurances during the meeting that measures on structural separation would be a matter for the next Government after the election, and if contained in the law when passed will not come into force for at least an additional year.

The bill proposes a number of major changes to the sale of alcohol, including new marketing restrictions and minimum pricing arrangements.

However, RGDATA said it told officials that “aggressive” sales tactics by multinational chains should shoulder the blame for problems with alcohol sales.

During the meeting, RGDATA said independent retailers were “responsible community-based retailers” who have a commitment to ensure alcohol is sold responsibly.

The association stressed the main problems had not arisen from local sellers, but from large chains who were “aggressively selling alcohol below cost and investing huge sums in marketing and advertising promotions to increase alcohol sales”.

The delegation also said the new law must create a “level playing field” and not confer a competitive advantage on some retailers of alcohol over others.

RGDATA said it will engage with the next minister for health and children to ensure members’ interests are recognised in any new bill.