Diageo, Tesco, Coca-Cola Co leaders unite on responsible drinking push

Diageo, Tesco, Coca-Cola Co leaders unite on responsible drinking push

Many of the leading producers and retailers of alcoholic drinks in the UK, led by supermarket giant Tesco, have urged the Government to steer clear of "heavy-handed" action on alcohol.

In a letter published in today's (7 September) Financial Times newspaper, the group backed the Coalition Government's rhetoric on tackling excess drinking. "As the new Government has rightly recognised, the solution lies not in heavy-handed state action, but in a more nimble approach," the group said. 

The letter is a who's who of top drinks executives in the UK and is a show of unity following a period of division in the trade on alcohol policy.

Nearly 50 top executives have signed the letter, including the respective CEOs of Tesco and Sainsbury's, Sir Terry Leahy and Justin King, as well as SABMiller CEO Graham Mackay, Diageo's MD for Great Britain, Simon Litherland, and Constellation Europe's commercial general manager, James Lousada. Jon Woods, the head of The Coca-Cola Co in the UK and Ireland, has also signed.

The group pledges to back the "Why Let Good Times Go Bad?" campaign run by Drinkaware, a responsible drinking charity partially funded by the industry. By doing so, the group has sent a clear message to ministers that the industry wants to see more action to change consumer behaviour, rather than fresh legislation to tightly control drinks sales.

"This is a long-term commitment, where the industry will use its knowledge of consumer behaviour to achieve social change – at no cost to the taxpayer," they said of the Drinkaware campaign.

The UK Government is set to publish results from its consultations on alcohol licensing rules and pricing in the coming weeks.  

For the full letter, click here.