Taking Responsibility – The Portman Group hosts first event

Last week, the Portman Group hosted its inaugural seminar in the Taking Responsibility series.  The ‘Responsible Regulation of Alcohol Seminar’ showcased the self-regulatory model, reviewing the changes from the past three years since the Code was revised and embedded, and lookied forward to likely changes in the regulatory landscape for 2021.

There were four key speakers: Portman Group Chair, Philip Rycroft, Portman Group CEO, Matt Lambert, Director of Regulation, Laura Demorais and Advice and Training Manager, Rebecca Oladipo. The event was attended by key industry figures, organisations, and businesses as well as retailers including representatives from major supermarket chains.

The Code and Regulatory Landscape

Philip Rycroft opened the seminar providing his perception as to the current regulatory landscape for alcohol. He underscored that the post-COVID-19 recovery will be challenging and unpredictable and the industry needs to work together to demonstrate its commitment to responsible retail and marketing, with the Portman Group playing its essential role.

This year, the Code celebrates its 25th Anniversary and Laura Demorais explored the significance of the Code of Practice and how this has informed where alcohol regulationl stands today. She detailed the Code’s recent history, seen in further detail in the Regulating Through Change report. She considered the significant changes made to the Sixth Edition of the Code which included adding protection of the vulnerable as an overarching principle; a new rule on widespread offence; and adding that a product should not suggest any association with illegal behaviour – to name just a few additions. The industry stepped up to demonstrate its support for the Code and the resulting audit showing 95% compliance with the amended Code. Laura also shared some landmark decisions which are particularly relevant to current regulation-related issues.

Advice and Training

Rebecca Oladipo provided an overview of the Portman Group’s training offer. She highlighted the complex way in which alcohol regulation is managed, with the Portman Group working closely with the ASA, Ofcom and the law. The full list of the organisations involved in regulating the alcohol space can be read here. Given the complex environment, and to ensure that the Code is easily interpreted and reflected in marketing before a product launch or promotion, the Portman Group offers free and confidential advice to the whole sector – whether a large or small producer or marketing agency. This advice has enabled producers to avoid hundreds of potential complaints about products going to market which could have been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel, thereby pre-emptively protecting consumers.

Rebecca also announced the launch of a new training course designed specifically for retailers. This was put together in response to discussions with major retailing groups and seeks to address buying, marketing, and corporate teams. If you would be interested in booking, please contact

Looking to the future

Finally, Matt Lambert discussed the Portman Group mission and aims for the coming year. With 25 years of successfully providing a world leading self-regulatory system the Portman Group wants to lay the groundwork for another 25 years as a strong and effective regulator. The Portman Group delivers high-quality self-regulation in a way that responds to changes in society and at no cost to the public purse. This year will see a focus on the regulation and promotion of low and no alcohol and a focus on strengthening the self-regulatory model, chiefly by welcoming new members and broadening the reach of the Portman Group.

We wanted to thank our audience for engaging with the programme and their questions. this resulted in an interesting discussion exploring the Portman Group’s relationship with the ASA and the continued discussions surrounding the use of the word ‘skinny’ as a product descriptor.

This is the first event in our series and our next seminar is planned for July. For updates on future events, keep checking the website and our Twitter feed, @PortmanGroup. If you have any questions on the seminar, the issues discussed or the new training service, please contact