Alfred Jones, which operates 72 Spar stores in the North West, has launched a campaign to remind staff of the consequences of selling age-restricted items to under-18s in the run up to the festive season.
The Check Out campaign also targets customers in stores in North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire, stating that if they look under 21 they will be asked for ID. A poster reminds staff they can be charged with an on-the-spot fine of £80 if they sell alcohol to under-18s, and may even face a £5,000 fine or six months' imprisonment.
It says: "By asking for proof of age, you can prevent yourself from being prosecuted and keep your job." Other materials remind customers that it is an offence to sell restricted products to under-18s.
Managing director Tom Calderbank said the scheme had involved a substantial investment. He told C-Store: "Under-age sales of products such as alcohol can have huge implications, not just for the local community, but also for the retail staff whose jobs could be at risk if they complete an underage sale. Alfred Jones' Spar stores have stringent training and measures in place to ensure
our staff are aware of what they may sell, to whom, and the ID they need to see in order to make the sale.
"We find that statistically there are more attempts from underage customers to purchase products like alcohol and fireworks in the run up to the festive party season and New Year celebrations. That's why this campaign is also designed to reinforce the message to our serving staff that the ramifications of making an underage sale are serious and can include fixed penalties and an instant dismissal."
As part of the initiative, the company will be running a series of training programmes.