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WSTA calls on indies to battle 2025 duty change

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) is calling on independent retailers to keep writing to their MPs to highlight the impact of the upcoming February 2025 duty change.

Speaking at a panel at the London Wine Fair, chief executive of the WSTA Miles Beale said although “we have all the right arguments, all the right evidence, and an industry that supports us” that “we currently have a government that steadfastly refuses to listen.”

However, he added with a general election coming up, it was imperative to continue to leverage pressure on MPs, particularly disgruntled backbench Tories who were facing a tough battle to hold onto their seats.


As part of the duty reform applied last year, wine will be taxed incrementally, by 0.5% ABV, between 11.5% and 14.5%, but these changes will come into play at a later date, on 1 February 2025.

In the meantime, temporary arrangements have been in place for the 18 month period from 1 August 2023 until 1 February 2025, which sees all wines between 11.5% and 14.5% ABV taxed as if they are 12.5% in strength — a temporary duty increase of £0.44 per 75cl bottle. The government argues that this has been done to support wine producers and importers in moving to the new method of calculating duty on their products.

After 1 February 2025 will be split into sub-categories with differing duty rates. Producers have argued that the temporary measures unfairly preference higher alcohol wines as those between 11.5% and 12.5% ABV will be taxed at a higher percentage for the time being. One leading wine brand has even said it will begin reducing the ABV of its wines in order to avoid this higher duty rate.

Political pressure

Although Beale said the overall message from the Tories was that “it’s a political directive” to not alter the duty changes, or the easement period which has deferred them temporarily, he argued that independents were well placed to makes their concerns known through their local MPs.

He said: “There are around 1,000 independent merchants around the UK. If every single MP heard from them, they’d know there was an issue.

“They will never be more likely to listen than when they have an election coming up.”


He said it was “as pretty close to existential as it gets,”, arguing that “we’re all going to be in trouble unless we win this. If we want the UK to remain the most important market in the world, then we need to win.”

As part of its plan to engage with the independent sector, former Co-op wine boss Simon Cairns has been working with the WSTA to bring the concerns of the independents to the table. Next week will see the launch of a new survey to gauge the exact impact that the end of easement will have on independent retailers across the UK.

“We need to be able to quantify it,” Cairns explained. “We have a think about the impact and put that in pounds, shillings, and pence, as that will carry more weight).

“We have to unify or nothing will every change,” Cairns added.

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