From April 1, all alcohol customers must check they are buying from a registered wholesaler – and FWD is asking Wholesale News readers to help them understand the new law.
Under the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) anyone purchasing alcohol from a wholesaler must check their source has been accessed by HMRC and registered as a fit and proper trader. Approved wholesalers will be issued with a registration number, and customers must check this against an online listing at www.hmrc.gov.uk.
However, with time running out before the April 1 deadline, many retailers are still in the dark about their new obligations. From that date they could be liable for prosecution if they buy from unregistered wholesalers, with penalties ranging from loss of their alcohol licence to heavy fines and imprisonment.
FWD Chief Executive James Bielby said: “We need the help of beer, wines and spirits suppliers and wholesalers to make sure their customers know about the new rules. AWRS is intended to prevent duty-evading criminals selling to legitimate retailers, which is good news for tax payers and responsible wholesalers. But the onus is now on the buyer to ensure that they are dealing with an approved wholesaler, and it’s vital that they carry out the simple online check to protect themselves.”
He said other trade associations, the trade press, retailer groups and FWD members would also be taking on the job of ensuring customers only buy from registered sources after April 1.
FWD has issued a poster warning cash and carry customers of the new law. It is also meeting Ministers and Government officials to ensure HMRC communicates the changes to alcohol purchasers. FWD members have written to their MPs asking them to push for effective publicity about the new obligations.