The Alcohol Wholesales Registration Scheme (AWRS) came into force for retailers over the weekend in a bid to crack down on illicit booze on which no duty has been paid, and ensure the legitimacy of retail supply chains.
The new rules covering retailers, which came into effect on 1 April, mean retailers purchasing booze from a UK wholesaler must check the wholesaler is registered and has been approved by HMRC in order to ensure they only buy legitimates alcohol from approved sources.
It follows the introduction of the AWRS scheme in April 2016, in which every UK wholesaler of beer, wine and spirits was required to register with HMRC and undergo rigorous checks prior to approval.
The scheme, which was announced as part of the government’s Finance Bill 2015 in December 2014, aims to reduce the sale of illicit alcohol on which no duty has been paid and which may be dangerous to consumers, and ensure the legitimacy of supply chains.
Under the latest AWRS deadline, any retailer burying alcohol from a non-registered wholesaler may be liable to pay a criminal or civil penalty. In addition, any alcohol found in the premises of unregistered businesses may be seized, whether or not the duty has been paid and they could lose their alcohol licence altogether.
Speaking before the new rules came into effect, David Richardson of the WSTA described it as a “crucial” counter-fraud initiative that had taken considerable effort from all sides to bring into effect.
“The WSTA has supported the scheme from the outset and will continue to support the contribution of every company involved in its implementation.”
James Lowman, ACS chief executive said the scheme was designed to tackle the illicit alcohol market which has a direct, negative impact on responsible retailers.
“We expect the implementation of AWRS to be to everyone’s benefit,” he said.
Simon Doyle, General Manager at Concha y Toro UK, described the move as a “wholly positive initiative”, arguing that there was a “shared responsibility amongst suppliers, traders and retailers in the beers, wines and spirits category to address fraudulent practices across the supply chain.”
“There is a shared responsibility amongst suppliers, traders and retailers in the beers, wines and spirits category to address fraudulent practices across the supply chain. We expect the implementation of AWRS to be to everyone’s benefit.”