Tobacco is still the topic de jour. But while most ongoing debating concerns whether indies benefited from the mults going dark (and it’s been hard to tell because a lot of people stocked up before the Budget and then there were Easter hols) we have Satish Thakrar, of Maypole Estate Store in Bexley, Kent, and his radical take on the subject. He writes: “Any reduction in tobacco sales is good news for the retailers. Reason being low profit margin on them eg if you lose £1,000- worth of tobacco sales per week, you lose £70 profit (at 7%).
“On the other hand, some customers will spend at least half of that £1,000 (assuming 25% going to savings and another 25% going to supermarkets) with small retailers on crisps, drinks, sweets and so on at 25% profit margin, giving £125 profit.
“So your weekly sales might be going down, but your gross profit will go up.”
It would be nice to think he’s right, but I suspect many would fear losing their smoking hot customers to the competition where they will buy not only their fags, but their snacks, too.
I’ve also had feedback from Charles Bennett, who runs Hanslope Wines in Milton Keynes, who read my account of Booker’s extraordinary efforts to ‘cover up’ their tobacco in cash and carry branches.
He writes: “I always used cigarette outer-boxes for loose bottles, and so on. and, rather usefully, to cram with cardboard for recycling from my shop. I am now informed that these boxes are not allowed to be seen in the store so we cannot use them.
“Now, here is the real problem with Booker’s thinking: The black bin bag is kept on until we reach the checkout and then removed before paying at the cash desk (cigarettes are, of course, now visible). So I asked if they could keep a stash of cigarette boxes by (or even, in) the cash room for customer to use (they really are good boxes!). The answer was no, someone might see them.”
There is still time to respond to the government’s consultation on plain packaging. The idea of concealing plain packs behind plain shutters is plain nonsense. To make your point, go to http://consultations.dh.gov.uk
“When Graham Fowle, from Whimple, Devon, heard a recording of himself supposedly agreeing to a contract for Opus Energy supplies, he knew full well it had been doctored. His dogs were barking one minute and then suddenly silent”