‘Structural separation is an anti-small business law’ says CSNA

With a decision expected on the government's proposed structural separation of alcohol products expected this week, the CSNA warns that the measure will bring "negative, far-reaching and immediate" consequences for small and medium retailers

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24 October 2016 | 0

“Extremely negative consequences on small and medium-sized retailers” will occur if proposals for the structural separation of alcohol products go ahead, according to the Convenience Stores & Newsagents Association (CSNA).

Warning about the proposals contained in Section 20 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 (PHAB), Vincent Jennings, CEO of the CSNA said: “Every single retailer with a licence to sell alcohol should be seriously concerned about Section 20 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill on structural separation. The repercussions for our sector will be negative, far-reaching and immediate. Simply put, this is an anti-small business law.”

Jennings criticized the costs and upheaval that the measure will cause for small and medium stores. “A law on structural separation will require retailers to implement one of two measures,” he said. “Alcohol products must solely be displayed in either a designated area not visible from the outside, or in a dark cabinet, with correlating advertising restrictions. Costing estimates for refitting stores tell us that prices will range from €5k to €60k. This demonstrates not only how little clarity our sector has been given, but also the lack of government engagement. No proper costing exercise has been carried out and no specifics provided on the requirements. Not only that, but upheaval will be caused for small and medium-sized retailers as they will be obliged by law to implement the measures within one year.”

In spite of this, the CSNA says no evidence exists to show that structural separation will make any difference in terms of achieving a reduction in harmful drinking, in accordance with the PHAB’s stated aim.

“The government is seeking to enact legislation that will not achieve its goal, and pillage small shops in local communities around the country in the process,” Jennings added. “No empirical or peer-tested research justifies this stringent measure.”
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