Plain packs and a sugar tax hit

The UK is told to break away from the European Union, the National Living Wage takes off, and minimum pricing gets the OK

IN January, Scottish Grocer reported that plans to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products had been challenged in court by the four main suppliers in the UK market.

 Small shops and other businesses with low rateable values learned they were to keep their Small Business Bonus.

Now selling from convenience stores in Scotland and across the UK. Since 20 May this year only plain pack and EUTPD2-compliant cigarettes and RYO tobacco packs can be manufactured for the UK market.

 In February it was reported that although it would leave the ultimate decision with Scottish Court of Session, the European Court of Justice said the Scottish Government must prove its minimum unit pricing for alcohol aims could not be better achieved though other means.

 Good Standards Scotland said the Scottish Government should consider a sugar tax and regulation of food and drink promotions to combat obesity.

 The Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee  voted against a member’s bill that would have introduced, among other things, special rules for alcohol and caffeine drinks and restrictions on alcohol advertising near schools.

 At the Scottish Grocers Federation Retail Crime Seminar in March, it was reported that 92% of retailers had been victims of shop theft, with 22% experiencing it daily and 49% reporting incidents of employee theft.

 Chancellor George Osborne sprang a sugar levy on soft drinks manufacturers and importers in the budget. From April 2018 companies will have to pay a charge based on the sugar content per litre of soft drink above set thresholds.

 The UK government accepted recommendations that the national minimum wage should increase by 3.7%. From the beginning of April a national living wage of £7.20 per hour was introduced for workers aged 25 and over.

 In May, Scottish Grocer reported that deputy first minister John Swinney said he would consider recommendations from the SGF that shop workers be given the same legal protection as emergency workers.

 ew rules that followed the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive and the UK government’s standardised tobacco packaging laws meant only plain packs of cigarettes and rolling tobacco,  of 20 sticks or more or 30g or more, could be manufactured for the UK market.

 In June, research revealed that the number of symbol stores in Britain had dropped and the number of non-affiliated c-stores had grown.  The rate of growth of multiple grocer c-stores had also fallen, from 10% to 5%.

 Wholesale group Bestway signed up to the SGF.

 New rules governing the sale of substances previously know as “legal highs” were introduced. Affected products included solvent-based glues, anti-freeze
and any kind of aerosol.  Breaches of the rules carry  a range of penalties including imprisonment.

 In August, both the Association of Convenience Stores and the Scottish Grocers Federation warned against the implementation of government plans to increase the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020.

 C-store Greens of Markinch took to social media to attract customers to its store by announcing that there was a Pokémon Gym by the store.

 The 2016 Forecourt Report from the Association of Convenience Stores revealed that convenience sales at UK forecourts, excluding fuel, were worth over £4bn.

 In September, Scottish Grocer reported that the killer of Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah had been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum sentence of 27 years.

 Plain cigarette packs started hitting the shelves in UK c-stores, nine months ahead of the cut-off date for selling old style packs.

 With 330 new members recruited during the last financial year, symbol group Premier had swollen its membership to more than 3300.

In October it was reported that AG Barr could shed 90 jobs out of its 1,000-strong workforce.

 In November, Scottish Grocer reported that plans to implement Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol in Scotland had been given the go-ahead by the courts. At 50p per unit of alcohol, that means the minimum price of a 500ml can of standard lager will be £1, a bottle of 13.5% wine will be £5.07, and a three-litre bottle of 7.5% ABV cider will soar to £11.25.

 The Scottish Parliament gave its approval to a cross-party group on independent convenience sores in Scotland. Its first full meeting was scheduled to be held in the Scottish Parliament building on 23 November.