INDUSTRY groups the Scottish Grocers’ Federation and the Scottish Wholesale Association joined forces with the Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group to take a message about the economic and community costs of illicit trade to the Scottish Parliament last month.
Justice secretary Kenny Macaskill and several MSPs joined wholesalers, retailers and leaders from enforcement organisations at the parliamentary reception hosted by Jenny Marra, the Dundee-based MSP for North-east Scotland.
They heard presentations from SWA president Asim Sarwar, chief executive of the SGF John Drummond, and chair of the Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group police inspector Alan Dron.
Asim Sarwar told the reception: “It is a fact that there are escalating financial and community costs as a result of growing illicit trade throughout Scotland.
“The Scottish Wholesale Association is delighted to join forces with both the Scottish Grocers’ Federation and Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group to shine a spotlight on what is a very worrying issue for wholesalers and independent retailers at a time when the recession is still biting and trade is already extremely challenging.
“Collectively, we can help tackle this problem through raising awareness and changing perceptions. We must influence the public not to buy illicit or counterfeit products while supporting legitimate businesses. This will make Scotland a hostile environment for serious organised criminals.”
The SGF’s John Drummond said: “Responsible retailing is at the heart of Scotland’s communities. The convenience store sector in Scotland provides over 40,000 jobs. It is at the apex of supply chains, providing routes to market for our manufacturers and wholesalers, and it increasingly supports genuinely local producers.
“All of this is threatened by illicit trade. Responsible retailers are already feeling the impact of this criminal activity and we believe that now is the time to join forces and pool our resources to effectively combat the illicit trade across Scotland. By bringing the key agencies together and by concentrating our efforts we believe that the battle can be won.”