Alcohol is sold every day in shops and supermarkets across the UK. Our event provided an opportunity for retailers to share their best practice and show how this is done responsibly.
In the fourth session of our Taking Responsibility Seminar series, we heard from retail experts on the systems deployed by retailers to ensure that alcohol is sold responsibly. We were delighted to hear from Hardish Purewal, Chair of the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group (RASG) and Licensing Manager at Tesco, and Neil Eccles, Senior Licensing Manager at Asda.
Setting the standard through RASG
Hardish Purewal provided an overview of the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group (RASG), which was founded in 2005 and aims to reduce underage drinking and promote high standards among alcohol retailers. RASG consists of all of the leading alcohol retailers in the UK.
The group is devoted to ensuring alcohol is sold responsibly, especially not to under-18s through its Challenge 25 scheme . Since 2009 Challenge 25 has helped retail workers avoid selling to under-age customers by requesting ID from anyone who is or may look under 25.
Alongside this, RASG has put together training and a factsheet to help retailers pick up the signs of a proxy sale.
One of RASG’s biggest successes has been working with Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP). CAP brings together local retailers & licensees, trading standards, police, health services, education providers and other local stakeholders, to support young people and prevent alcohol harm. You can read more about them in our blog detailing their work here.
RASG has also issued guidance for retailers to help them ensure alcohol is sold properly and responsibly. This has included advice on where alcohol is placed in store, how to respond to illicit sales of alcohol, spotting fake IDs, and how to adopt the Challenge 25 policy. It’s about setting the standard for retailers and ensuring they are well supported.
As the pandemic hit, more consumers moved to online purchasing. This prompted RASG to issue online guidance for the first time in 2021. This helps ensure alcohol is sold responsibly online as well as in store, not to under-18s or vulnerable consumers.
With great power comes great responsibility
Neil Eccles spoke to how Asda puts the standards set by RASG and the Portman Group into practice. “It is a privilege to sell to millions each week, and retailers must act responsibly as they serve these customers.”
More can be done to tackle alcohol misuse in the UK, and Asda deploys several measures in its stores. This includes the 2010 promise that alcohol sales are never below the cost of duty and VAT, alongside stocking a market-leading range of low and no beers and wines and removing high strength alcohol from shelves. Asda are also active members of RASG, help to fund Drinkaware, support and sit on the board of CAP, and organise 100 store activities during Dry January to help consumers monitor their alcohol consumption.
Asda also has a dedicated beer, spirits and wine compliance manager who provides internal guidance for buying teams, including Portman Group Retailer Alert Bulletins and Challenge 25 messaging. When it comes to Portman Group’s Retailer Alert Bulletins (RABs), Asda ensures these are actioned as quickly and efficiently as possible. Asda operates across the UK, and it is important to be compliant with the various legislation which is different in every nation. Neil emphasised Asda’s guiding belief – doing the right thing – is especially the case with alcohol, which should never encourage immoderate or irresponsibly drinking, and adhere to the Portman Group’s Code.
For updates, keep checking the website and our Twitter feed, @PortmanGroup. If you have any questions on the seminar or the issues discussed, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about RASG, click here.
To learn more about CAP, click here.