The FWD has issued two posters for members to use in depots, warning retailers of the dangers of buying alcohol from the grey market.
Counterfeit alcoholic products and beers, wines and spirits on which UK duty has not been paid are sold to retailers by criminals posing as wholesalers. Many retailers are not aware that if they stock these products they are taking part in an illegal activity.
The posters have been endorsed by HM Revenue amp; Customs and FWD cash and carry operators. One warns that the Government is clamping down on shops that sell alcohol on which duty and VAT has not been paid.
It says: “If you purchase alcohol products on which UK duty has not been paid your stock will be seized and you could face a heavy fine.”
The second poster concerns counterfeit products. It says: “Criminal gangs are currently distributing counterfeit wines, spirits and cigarettes in this area. This stock is illegal and dangerous to the consumer.”
Both posters urge cash and carry customers to report suspicious activity to HMRC. They also recommend that retailers only purchase alcohol and tobacco from trusted sources such as FWD members.
FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “It is vital that retailers are careful who they buy from. HMRC is targeting shops and removing suspicious stock from their shelves. It has the ability to impose severe sanctions and can ask local authorities to review the licence of shops which stock illicit products.
“If retailers are approached with deals on alcohol which are significantly lower than those in the big cash and carry chains, they should think very carefully about the long-term damage to their business which would result from involvement in an illegal supply chain.”
The FWD posters have been distributed to cash and carry operators and can be displayed or handed out as flyers.