New regulations fail to rein in duty avoidance

FWD members are reporting that the problem of duty fraud on alcohol is as bad as ever, despite new regulations introduced by HM Revenue amp; Customs at the start of June.

Steve Parfett, managing director of Parfetts Cash amp; Carry, said: “The early signs coming back from the depots after the new regulations were very good, but in the past 3-4 weeks there has been a substantial increase in stock being offered to ourselves and to our customers. The problem is back with a vengeance and it is very disappointing because we had high hopes of the new regulations and they were just what we were asking for.”

He said the problem affected both wine and beer, and added: “It has been particularly bad with wine, where the disparity between the legitimate trade and dodgy wine has been a major problem. It’s a real shame because the rest of the business is doing really well and we were expecting a real uplift from here too.”

Booker chief executive Charles Wilson said: “It is very disappointing that despite the new regulations in June we are still seeing a similar level of duty avoidance stock in the market. We have made checks and we believe this is recent stock that has entered the market since the regulations were changed, so it looks as though they have found some way round them.”

FWD chief executive James Bielby said the Federation had received reports from members in several parts of the country about products being sold at prices that could only be achieved through duty fraud, and this was taking away sales from legitimate businesses.

He added: “We are very disappointed because everyone had high hopes of the new regulations that were introduced by HM Revenue amp; Customs in June. FWD and its members will be working with HM Revenue amp; Customs and our other partners in the trade to tackle this problem.”

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