Scottish retailers have demanded licensing authorities take a common sense approach to the enforcement of new alcohol legislation which began this week.

Despite applying months ago, many store owners have yet to receive either premises licences or personal licences required under the new Licensing Act. One store chain which applied for 133 premises licences had received only 18 of them by mid-August.

The rules require stores to nominate a registered premises manager, who once granted a personal licence should have ensured that all staff received the mandatory two hours of alcohol sales training before Tuesday's deadline.

Last month Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced that stores which applied for a personal licence before the end of August could carry on trading until November 1 and, as C-Store went to press, trade associations were lobbying for a similar ruling on the training requirement.

Scottish Retail Consortium director Ian Shearer said: "For retailers whose paperwork has been delayed in the system, there have to be clear assurances that enforcement bodies will take a sympathetic approach."

John Drummond of the Scottish Grocers' Federation added: "With little or no guidance being issued by the licensing boards, retailers can only hope they will take a common sense approach to enforcement in the coming months."

Not all retailers were caught out, however. Spar retail chain CJ Lang said it had completed training of 1,500 staff across 91 stores with its 'To Sell Or Not To Sell' training programme.

Staff at David Sands' 27 stores wore T-shirts this week inviting customers to ask them about the new restrictions, which include new layouts to the alcohol section, a ban on cross-merchandising, and restricted hours of sale.

Retailers are concerned that the new rules giving licensing agencies powers to curb 'irresponsible promotions' are not clear, and that the authorities will use them to inflict across-the-board bans.

Topics