Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy supports minimum price

Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy supports minimum price

The UK's largest supermarket chain, Tesco, has publicly backed a minimum price for alcoholic drinks after the country's new Government promised a tougher approach to harmful drinking.

Tesco "stands ready" to support a base price on drinks should the newly elected Coalition Government decide to pursue that policy, the retailer announced today (21 May).

Sources at the company have briefed privately that the group would acquiesce to any minimum pricing system, but this is the first time any of the big four multiple retailers in the UK have publicly backed the policy. Several brewers are also known to be in favour, as is a large proportion of the on-trade.
Tesco's announcement followed the Government's statement yesterday that it intends to ban alcohol sales at 'below cost' in order to reduce access to cheap drinks.

The new Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration said it would also "overhaul the Licensing Act" and "review alcohol taxation and pricing to ensure it tackles binge drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers, pubs and important local industries".

Trade body the the Wine & Spirit Trade Association immediately backed the Government's plan to ban below cost alcohol sales, albeit with a specific model in mind. 

"The WSTA supports a ban on selling alcohol below the level of duty plus VAT on the basis that these are both consumer taxes and therefore the cost should be passed on to the consumer," said WSTA's CEO, Jeremy Beadles.

But, he stopped short of endorsing minimum pricing and added: "We do not believe that alcohol pricing and taxation provide the solution to alcohol misuse. What's needed is education and rigorous enforcement of laws to address misuse and related anti-social behaviour."

To read the Tesco statement in full, click here.