Wholesalers in Scotland will be required to lend retailers much greater levels of support when a further barrage of new legislation hits next year, the industry’s trade body has said.

Referring specifically to minimum pricing on alcohol, which could be enforced in Scotland by April 2013, Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) president George Benson said wholesalers needed to help their customers “deal positively with the implications of this new law.”

Large Scottish retailers may also have to comply with a tobacco display ban next year, although implementation dates have yet to be confirmed.

Speaking at the SWA’s annual conference Benson added that the SNP government was “pushing hard” with its agenda for a healthy Scotland. “And it is moving fast. Minimum pricing on alcohol, plain packaging on tobacco and a proposed tax on unhealthy food, for example sugary drinks, chocolate and crisps and snacks,” he said.

His comments came in the same week that an NHS Scotland report revealed that alcohol sales had only shown a very modest decline following the quantity discount ban on off-trade sales earlier this year.

This followed a trend which began before the ban was introduced, and mirrored what was happening in England where no ban existed, Scottish Grocer’s Federation (SGF) chief executive John Drummond said.

“Despite all of the cost and disruption of this policy to retailers it is clear that it has hitherto failed to make the impact which the Scottish government told us it would.

“The Scottish Government consistently believes that the best way to tackle alcohol abuse is to further regulate and interfere with the retail market whether it is discount bans, minimum pricing, or more onerous and expensive licensing conditions.

“We should welcome the fact that there is a continuing decline of alcohol abuse in Scotland but the only way to maintain this is through a prolonged and sustained shift in attitudes towards responsible drinking. Increasing the regulatory burden on responsible businesses is clearly not the answer,” he added.