Tesco remains a supporter of minimum pricing

Tesco remains a supporter of minimum pricing

The boss of Tesco's wine unit has said the group remains "supporters" of minimum unit pricing, while claiming the measure would not boost the company's profits.

In an exclusive interview with just-drinks this week, Dan Jago, Tesco's UK & group wine director, said that he sees "merits" in the controversial measure and the company is prepared to take a hit on sales. "It could have an impact on sales, and if it does, we're prepared to accept that and understand that," he said. "We are supporters of MUP (minimum unit pricing)."

Jago said "extensive" research carried out by the retailer suggested there would be a "significant decline in total sales" meaning there would be no net benefit to its business, despite the higher prices. Minimum pricing remains the subject of a legal battle in Scotland, while the Westminster government has reportedly dropped the planned measure

The Tesco exec hinted that the company would prefer that minimum pricing be used to deter excessive drinking in the UK rather than higher duty rates. "I think that leaving yourselves open to that (tax) increasing further is quite dangerous,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jago also hit out at a "culture of nihilism" in the UK wine industry, claiming the trade is a victim of its own negativity. Speaking at the last London International Wine Fair at ExCeL, before the event downscales to Olympia in 2014, he said: "The wine industry needs to try and find a way of being a little bit more enthusiastic and positive, regardless of what it privately feels.

"It's talked itself into a corner on this one. The LIWF is a lot smaller and, had it been a bit more ambitious and optimistic, it might have created a different model that certainly worked for the Germans."