Retailers are under more scrutiny than ever to ensure that staff don't sell alcohol to under-age customers or encourage antisocial behaviour, and it was last year's winners
of the Responsible Drinks Retailing Awards who raised the bar for
the industry. But
as the news pages of OLN occasionally reveal, there are
some retailers who
short of the mark and
make life hard for the rest.
most retailers have improved their store practices over recent years . In fact, those who have done the most to improve standards across the off-trade are the ones who have
been paying extra attention to detail and are also
within their communities
awards aim to seek out such success stories
these hard-working retailers for their achievements.
Don't miss OLN's RDR awards for 2008
Entries are still open for this year's Responsible Drinks Retailing Awards, run by OLN and sister magazine the Morning Advertiser.
The awards recognise best practice in retail and are a great way to show
just how much you are doing to avoid selling to under-age drinkers, uphold the law and support your community.
The judging panel will be looking for a consistent approach to promoting the responsible sale of alcohol, including evidence of local initiatives, along with endorsements from police and local authorities.
For full details and an entry form call Sarah Stevens on 01293 610403, or email her at email@example.com. Alternatively, visit responsibledrinksretailing.co.uk
to download an entry form. Please return your form no later than Sept 12 . The awards lunch will be held at the Landmark Hotel in London on Nov 11.
Independent winner: Frankmarsh Stores
Victory in the off-trade independent section last year
led to Frankmarsh Stores inviting its local MP to work
a shift to see the problems of enforcing rules on under-age sales first hand.
Liberal Democrat Nick Harvey worked a Friday evening shift at the community store in Barnstaple, Devon, and even refused a sale to a youngster who was unable to produce ID .
"I think he was surprised by how difficult it could be to gauge the age of young people," says store owner Lesley Brown. "He's been very supportive of what we're trying to do and was keen to see what goes on.
"He was aware that shops like ours often get the blame for antisocial behaviour, but often it's quite unjustified."
Harvey's stint at the store was
a result of publicity generated by the win in the 2007 Responsible Drinks Retailing Awards.
Brown says: "Our local public
were thrilled to bits for us and we got a lot of positive feedback from local people ."
Frankmarsh Stores' victory last year came about after the shop introduced a restricted age sales policy and organised a No ID, No Sale Day to raise awareness of the issues.
A Citizen Card spokesman was invited
to answer queries on ID and the store gave out guides to the sales policy plus specially-made key fobs and balloons publicising it.
Brown recognises that measures on responsible drinks retailing have to be ongoing, as each year brings the next generation of under-18s .
This year, she's linked up with her closest rival, a branch of the Co-op, to reinforce messages on under-age sales.
Using UV pens, a special code is put on bottles of alcohol that might appeal to under-age drinkers, such as small bottles of RTDs and cheap
If youngsters below legal drinking age are caught with them, the police can use scanners to read the codes and find the source.
They can then ask the relevant store to investigate whether it was sold directly to the teenager or bought by an adult and passed on.
Brown says: "I'm 99% confident that if it did happen it would have been bought by an adult, otherwise we wouldn't be doing it.
"It helps when you've got local knowledge and can be aware of which adults are likely to be the ones buying on the behalf of youngsters .
"As it is, we've been doing it since April and we've had nothing at all come back to us."
Overall, Brown says the award helped raise awareness of her shop's tough attitude on under-age sales.
"We now get customers coming in and warning us
if there are groups hanging round who might be looking to cause trouble.
"It's great that we get that extra help from the community."
Chain winner: David Sands
The Kinross-based family-run David Sands chain didn't hang about waiting for trading standards officers to catch its staff out with test purchases.
Instead, it checked the efficiency of its own systems by instigating its own in-house system of test purchases, using 18 to 20-year-old mystery shoppers.
The scheme was just one of the measures to tackle under-age purchases that caught the eyes of the judges in last year's awards scheme.
The company was also one of the first to implement product marking, so that alcohol found in the possession of under-age drinkers could be traced back to its source, a move designed to tackle the increasing problems caused by proxy purchases by adults on David Sands' patch.
The chain hasn't stood still in 2008, pioneering a voluntary Challenge 25 scheme in its stores and becoming part of the Scottish Grocers' Federation's lobbying effort against proposed legislative measures including the off-trade ban on sales to under-21s.
Security manager Charlie Hamilton says: "Winning the award meant a lot to us, but we realise that it was only because we were good at that particular time. You have to keep focused on delivering our responsibility to the communities we serve.
"The award also gave us the confidence and credibility to challenge the Scottish government on the proposed legislation."
2007 Highly Commended: Thresher Group
Thresher was highly commended in last year's awards for measures including monitoring refusals and challenges through EPoS.
The group also gave
staff badges saying "ID required" to try to reduce friction between staff and young customers.
teamed up with Serve Legal to carry out independent test purchases using young mystery shoppers of legal drinking age to verify that its Challenge 21 policy is being carried out to the letter. Staff who successfully do so are given a bonus, though a failure can result in disciplinary action.
Thresher has also stepped up measures to ensure each shop has two personal licence holders.