With less than eight weeks before the tobacco display ban is enforced across the UK, independent retailers are bemoaning the level and quality of support they have received from their symbol group partners.
Legislative advice and help to source alternative display ban solutions has been inadequate, many store owners claim.
Jamie Keshwara, who owns three Nisa stores in Cambridgeshire, said he was disappointed with the level of advice he had received from Nisa about alternative solutions.
“There’s been next to no help or advice on tobacco legislation from the symbol groups. It’s like they don’t see it as their issue.”
Raj Aggarwal, Londis Leicestershire
“James Hall hasn’t done much directly, but it has worked with Imperial Tobacco to organise advice sessions at various Spar events such as the Spar Guild over the past few months. JTI fitted doors on our newest store’s gantry last week.”
Paul Stone, Spar Oxford Road Manchester
“I think the symbol groups have left it to the tobacco companies, but not all retailers want to sign up to lengthy new contracts with JTI or Imperial and be bound by their solutions and planograms,” he said.
“It would have been useful to have received more impartial information about the alternatives to contracts and cheaper DIY solutions,” he added.
Devon Premier retailer Dan Cock said he had received “nothing” from Premier. “Imperial Tobacco has been good, which is fortunate as I’ve received nothing from my symbol group. What independent retailers need are more impartial guides,” he said.
Today’s Local retailer Rishi Madhani from Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire, said support had been a “mixed bag”.
“I’ve received no information on the display ban legislation, or on staff training, but Today’s did negotiate a deal with Expotutto, the company that provides the Servertab overhead display solution. It has not benefited me, though, as I chose to sign a deal with JTI and I had my doors fitted last week.”
Costcutter claimed that it had been in “constant communication” with its retailers and was advising them of key compliance actions.
Nisa said it had produced a training guide via its Retail Academy. It is supported through an e-learning facility for Epositive users, and gives access to a free online course.
As Convenience Store went to press, Londis had published a new tobacco category guide for its retailers.
For impartial and sound help with complying with the tobacco display ban on 6 April, along with ideas for alternative dark market solutions, visit the Association of Convenience Stores’ website. For additional peace of mind, retailers can also sign up to its Assured Advice scheme which provides advice on Trading Standards regulation that cannot be challenged or changed from one local authority to the next.