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UK supermarkets encouraging irresponsible drinking, says S&N

Supermarkets have dismissed claims from the UK’s leading brewer Scottish & Newcastle that they are encouraging irresponsible drinking by selling beer and cider below cost prices.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said S&N had "no evidence" for the claims, which the brewer made in a submission to the Competition Commission – part of an investigation into the power of the UK’s "big four" supermarkets: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons.

S&N had said that it viewed cheap beer and cider prices "with concern", adding: "We strongly believe that the sale of alcoholic drinks at low cost, used primarily to drive ‘footfall’ into stores, is not consistent with the promotion of responsible drinking."

BRC head of media and campaigns Richard Dodd said: "Overwhelmingly, consumers drink sensibly and it’s wrong to accuse supermarkets of creating problem drinking. We reject the claim."

Dodd said retailers were also involved with alcohol charities and had taken steps to tackle the issue of under-age sales. "Just because it’s alcohol doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be subject to the same sort of buying process," he said.

© db 1st August 2006

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