Had a look at your old booze stock lately? If you haven’t then I’ve got a timely reminder from Rav Garcha. He is a high-profile retailer, a multiple awardwinner and active within ACS. I give you his credentials because if HMRC can try to commandeer some of his old and venerable liqueurs (that pre-date duty stamps) then they can try it on anyone.

Rav runs four stores in the West Midlands under the Nisa Local fascia and happened to be in one when Customs and Trading Standards officers came in and said they wanted to take away some 15-year-old stock unless he could produce the paperwork to prove when it was acquired (see, they must have a sense of humour, albeit a twisted one). The business had acquired the old and dusty stock of pricey brandies and liqueurs along with the specialist off licence premises from a previous owner.

Customs argued that he wouldn’t miss the stock, but Rav made the point that the stock formed part of the value of the business (and he probably wouldn’t get it back once it had been seized).

It remains at a stalemate as this is being written. The stock was left on the agreement that he wouldn’t sell it. With any luck Customs will wander off to try their hand elsewhere, which brings me to Rav’s main point. They could come to you next.

Rav has no real argument with HMRC doing their stuff regarding dodgy stock, but he thinks that many c-stores may have old legitimate stock that pre-dates the 2006 duty stamp launch. Do you, for example, have any of those Bell’s whisky decanters (worth up to £100) that you were planning to trot out for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee?

And, a final thought, if you are in the process of buying a store, make sure the stocktaker takes note of any old supplies which perhaps should be removed from the deal.