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Retailers Say No to Deposit Return Scheme

Scottish Grocers Federation and ACS join forces to oppose bottle return scheme

 The trade associations have just submitted a joint response to the call for evidence from Scottish environment agency Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) on the feasibility of implementing a Deposit and Return Scheme (DRS) in Scotland. The deposit and return scheme is aimed at increasing recycling rates and reducing litter by encouraging consumers to return empty containers to retail outlets. DRS schemes focus primarily on beverage containers but the proposed Scottish scheme could be the most wide-ranging in Europe and include all types of aluminium cans, cartons, glass bottles, plastic bottles and containers.

The joint SGF-ACS response strongly argues that this is the wrong solution for Scotland and that convenience store retailers would be simply unable to store and process the anticipated high levels of returns envisaged by the feasibility study. Additionally DRS would increase cost for consumers and throw into reverse the considerable progress Scotland has made in implementing kerbside recycling services.

SGF Chief Executive Pete Cheema said,

“We have serious concerns about this entire process - the ZWS feasibility study has not looked at the potential impact on convenience store. A typical convenience store will sell around 3,000 units a week of soft drinks alone. Space is always at a premium for convenience store retailers - how could a store be expected to cope with the anticipated high levels of return?”

ACS Chief Executive, James Lowman, said: "A deposit return scheme would bring massive new burdens on local shops, add cost to the supply chain, and lead to less recycling through local authority kerbside collections.  The Scottish Government should stop and think about the impact of such a scheme on businesses and on the environment."



SGF Briefs Scottish Parliament on Reducing Alcohol Harm

Scottish Parliament Debate

Shona Robison: Making Progress on Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) and ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) represent the interests of convenience retailers in Scotland.  There are currently 5,545 convenience stores in Scotland providing employment for 42,255 people and making a valuable contribution to communities across Scotland.

We believe it is important that the Scottish Parliament recognises the positive progress that has already been made to reduce alcohol harm in Scotland. The Scottish Health Survey 2013 shows:

  • Average weekly unit consumption has declined over the years for both men (from 19.8 in 2003 to 13.7 units in 2013) and women (from 9.0 in 2003 to 6.8 units in 2013).
  • Hazardous or harmful drinking has declined among both men and women since 2003 (from 33% to 22% in men and from 23% to 16% in women)

We welcome this debate on ‘Making Progress on Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol’ and would like to highlight the important contribution that convenience retailers have made to the responsible retailing of alcohol in Scotland.

Challenge 25

Challenge 25 was originally a retailer led voluntary initiative used to prevent underage sales to young people.  The Challenge 25 is now a mandatory part of the Scottish Alcohol system and has been highly effective in reducing underage sales.  A prime example of how retailers have led the way in preventing alcohol harm. 

The number of prosecutions for purchasing alcohol for consumption by persons under 18 fell from 156 in 2009/10 to 64 in 2011/12 (Answer to written question in the Scottish Parliament S4W-13828).

Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAPs)

ACS and other industry bodies fund community alcohol partnerships that bring together retailers, local authorities, policy and communities to tackle underage drinking and alcohol related harm collaboratively.  CAPs are well established across England and now developing in communities across Scotland. SGF is a key partner in the East Edinburgh Community Alcohol Partnership.

Proxy Purchasing

Retailers have made such inroads in preventing underage sales that the primary source of alcohol for young people is through Proxy Purchasing.  This is often through parents, older siblings or friends.  This was recognised by the Chief Constable of Police Scotland in his annual report of 2014 to Scotland’s Licensing Boards.

ACS and SGF want to see more action to educate parents and adults about the dangers of proxy purchasing alcohol for their children.  The government should do more to reinforce that this is illegal and that people will be prosecuted.

The Sottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership

The Scottish Government and Alcohol Industry have come together to create an effective low cost partnership that has worked to deliver cultural change towards alcohol in Scotland.  The partnership has worked with on-trade and off-trade partners to encourage responsible consumption of alcohol and make the night time economy safer.

Responsibility Deal

 The industry has also delivered on a number significant Responsibility Deal pledges across the United Kingdom through the Department of Health:

  • To remove 1 billion units of alcohol from shop shelves by lowering alcoholic content or offering alternative drinks. Sales data shows that over 1.3 billion units were removed from the market between 2011 and 2013
  • To place labels on 80% of all drinks bottles that included safer drinking guidelines, unit content and a warning that women should not drink while pregnant.

For further information on this briefing please contact John Lee, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Scottish Grocers Federation; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0131 343 3300


SGF Welcomes Booker Move

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation has welcomed the news that Booker is to acquire Londis and Budgens in a £40 million deal as a positive move for the independent convenience store industry in Scotland. Londis, which operates more than 1,900 convenience stores, reported sales in the year to December of £504m. Budgens, a franchised chain with over 180  outlets, racked up sales of £329m last year.

 It is understood that the Londis and Budgens brand names will remain, and sit alongside the existing Booker retail brands, Premier and Family Shopper. All of Booker’s Premier symbol group stores are independently owned. SGF Chief Executive Pete Cheema said,

“This is a bold and visionary move by Booker and its Chief Executive Charles Wilson. We believe this will help to strengthen the independent convenience store sector as it faces increasing pressures from both the ongoing supermarket price war and the expansion of the discounters.”


Booker said completion of the deal was conditional on the approval of the Competition and Markets Authority.

SGF Moves Quickly To Respond To Election Result

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation has moved quickly to respond to the new political landscape in Scotland. The SNP’s stunning success means that there are now 50 new Scottish MPs at Westminster. The Federation will directly contact all of the new MPs highlighting the impact independent convenience stores have on the local and national economy. Crucially the mailshot will give every MP a breakdown of the number of convenience stores in their constituency,  the jobs they provide and will encourage the new members to get out and visit local stores.

 The constituency-level information is derived from ACS’ Local Shop Report. SGF’s ongoing partnership with ACS has enabled Scotland-specific statistics to be broken down from the Local Shop Report. SGF is convinced that this is type of localised data will be vital  in engaging with and informing MPs.


 Commenting on the election result SGF Chief Executive Pete Cheema said,


 This is a remarkable result . Until now it was impossible to think that the Labour Party in Scotland would be reduced to having the same number of seats as the Tories! If we see this support for the SNP continuing it could pave the way for another referendum after the Scottish election in 2020. SGF’s ability to engage with and influence both Scottish MPs and members of the Scottish Parliament means that it is now more import than ever for suppliers, symbol groups and retailers to engage with and support the Federation.

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