(06 Oct 2015)

The National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) has awarded Gold Star Wine Awards to 15 wines at SIP 2015. Now in its fifteenth year, The Irish Wine Show award winners will be available to consumers all over Ireland. At the event, the association called on the Government to reduce excise duty on alcohol, specifically wine which is currently 624% higher in Ireland then other EU countries.

Speaking at the awards, Gary O’Donovan, Chairman of NOffLA congratulated the winners and commented on the current trading environment. He said; “This annual event allows us to celebrate some of the finest products sold by our highly trained members around the country. NOffLA members are committed to excellence both in terms of personal service and the high quality wines we offer”.

“However, this offering is under serious threat if this tentative economic recovery does not reach retailers and SMEs.  NOffLA members are committed to supporting local communities but the excise increases in Budget 2013 and Budget 2014 prevent us from investing in our local economies. Since 2008 some 3,000 jobs (35%) have been lost in the sector and 546 Off-licences have closed.

This Government has committed itself to full employment by 2018 but punitive taxes prevent independent retailers from playing an active part in reaching this goal.  Currently, Ireland has the highest taxation on wine with Irish consumers paying 624% more than their European counterparts.  Excise duty and employment are intertwined with our members reporting that they have had to reduce staff due to duty increases. In a recent survey of our members, 70% said they would take on more staff if excise was reduced. A further increase in excise duty would force 16.4% of outlets to close outright, with a further 51% struggling to remain open.

NOffLA members are highly trained and responsible local retailers that contribute to their communities through direct investment and local employment. We are calling on the Government to protect these local businesses that underpin communities all across Ireland.”

In excess of 600 wines were submitted to the Gold Star Award adjudication panel of NOffLA judges and independent wine writers.  Points were awarded on the basis of appearance, smell, taste and value for money criteria, and the winning 15 were selected as the best wines from key suppliers across a number of price categories.

Each of the winning wines will be sold in NOffLA member outlets, of which there are more than 315 nationwide.  The chosen wines will be recognisable by distinctive Award symbols on each bottle. In the pre-Christmas period NOffLA members will promote the Gold Star Awards 2015-2016 Collection as ideal Christmas gifts, in a variety of special gift packs.

Winning Wines Click to view

NOffLA Budget 2016 Key Points:

1.   Reduce Excise as a Job Creation Measure:

Excise duty and employment are intertwined – NOffLA members have reported having to reduce staff or close down due to duty increases, while they would employ more staff were the increases to be reversed.

Currently 1,834 businesses, 5,800 jobs in sector
3,000 jobs (35%) have been lost since 2008 in the off-trade sector
546 Off-Licences (wine and/or beer and/or spirits) have closed or lapsed since 2008
An increase in excise duty would force 16.4% of outlets to close outright, with a further 51% struggling to remain open
If the 2013/2014 increases were reversed 70% of outlets would take on more staff
The impact of excise is immediate (requiring up front funding from midnight on Budget Day) - the uncertainty surrounding its fluctuation from year to year prevents medium to long term business planning in terms of job creation, expansion of product offering and the upgrading of equipment and premises

2.  Ban Below Invoice Cost Selling:

Ban would halt retailer practice of reclaiming 23% of loss in VAT returns, saving c. €24m  per year
Ban can be achieved through Groceries Order or secondary legislation through Section 16 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, and could be introduced in tandem to Minimum Unit Pricing.

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