PRESS RELEASE - Almost 60% of independent Off Licences across Ireland face the risk of closure in 2015

(02 Jun 2014)

The National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) has today released figures from its 2014 member’s survey as part of its 2015 pre-Budget Submission launch showing that almost 60% of independent off-licences could close in 2014 if excise duty on alcohol is again increased in Budget 2015.

In its pre-Budget submission, NOffLA has called on the Government to (1) reverse the consecutive excise duty increases introduced in Budget 2013 & 2014 and (2) introduce measures to stop the sale of below cost alcohol. The independent off-licence industry has lost 3,000 jobs since 2008 and the proposed measures included in the pre-Budget submission are designed to safeguard the remaining 5,800 jobs, stimulate growth within the industry, support local communities and promote the responsible consumption of alcohol.

The 2014 NOffLA Members Survey found:

  • 58% of independent off-licences could close in 2015 if excise is increased this October
  • 48% of respondents reported a decrease in turnover in 2013, when compared to 2012
  • Only 7% have managed to maintain their pre-Budget 2014 sales volumes
  • 35% have had to let staff go as a direct consequence of the increases in excise duty in Budget 2013 & 2014
  • If excise duty is increased in Budget 2015, 61% of independent off-licences would reduce staff
  • 56% would hire staff if Budget 2013 and 2014 excise duties were reversed
  • 33% would increase staff wages if Budget 2013 and 2014 excise duties were reversed

Budget 2013 and Budget 2014, when combined, introduced substantive increases in the alcohol excise duty of beer and cider (+43%), spirits (+33%) and wine (+56%). Ireland currently has the highest tax on wine in the EU, the second highest on cider and third highest on spirits and beer. For example, €4.87 from every €9.00 bottle of wine (54%) sold goes to the Exchequer compared to Spain, Italy or Germany where there is no excise duty.

Evelyn Jones, Chairperson NOffLA said; “The results of the 2014 member’s survey starkly illustrate the impact of current Government policy and how it is leading to the destruction of local businesses all across the country. Increasing excise duty does not discourage alcohol consumption, rather it contributes to unemployment, promotes criminal activity and removes all public health controls”.

“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 reintroduce a ban on below cost selling of alcohol and provide security to the 92,000 jobs associated with the alcohol industry while ensuring a more effective means of reducing alcohol consumption”.

“We believe the Government has the power to do something positive for independent businesses all across Ireland. While still operating in a challenging economic climate, NOffLA members are committed to local communities and have clearly stated a desire to invest and continue to encourage the responsible consumption of alcohol.”

“While below cost selling of alcohol exists, large multiples can use this practice as a footfall driver to the detriment of smaller retailers and the most vulnerable in society. When the practice costs the Exchequer €24 million and allows for customers to purchase a bottle of beer cheaper than the same-sized bottle of water, it is time for the Government to intervene.”

In addition, such high excise duty has helped to fuel the black economy. Illegal cross border trading and smuggling are closely linked to high tax rates. Alcohol products are also prime targets for counterfeiters in the European market due to their brand value, high tax and the excise component of the final price. According to the Revenue Commissioners, the number of seizures of counterfeit and contraband alcohol in Ireland has increased by over 440% from just over 115 in 2008 to over 507 seizures in 2013.

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