According to retail brand and supplier engagement specialists Solutions for Retail Brands (S4RB), the forthcoming Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) could prove a challenge for smaller wholesalers and drinks producers to ensure they are appropriately registered and approved.


Originally due to come into force on October 1st but now postponed until January 1st 2016, the AWRS requires any vendor of duty-paid alcohol to be approved by HMRC as a duty-paid wholesaler.  Businesses need to pass a ‘fit and proper’ test by HMRC as a condition of approval. Retailers must also check that their suppliers are approved.  Penalties for breaches of the scheme will be severe.

S4RB says that experience with another recent piece of legislation, the Food Information Regulations (FIR), suggests that smaller and independent suppliers may be unaware of the details of the AWRS or that it applies to them.

“The new provisions refer to wholesalers but as they are more wide-ranging than previous regulations, they now affect some traders who may not even think they are wholesalers of alcohol,” explains Simon Heath of S4RB.

“It is essential, therefore, that retailers not only contact their suppliers to check that they are meeting the requirements of AWRS, but also explain in some detail what these requirements are and what steps need to be taken in order to comply.”

S4RB’s SupplierENGAGE™ cloud services allow retailers to communicate effectively with their suppliers, providing full transparency through the availability of detailed information on retailers’ systems, policies, processes and initiatives.

This high level of support and engagement facilitates understanding and motivation to help drive initiative and change in their supply base. With the end goal of ensuring AWRS compliance, S4RB is already in discussion with leading retailers about dedicated programs to inform and educate suppliers about the new regulations.

As well as providing advice and training to suppliers for new regulations and legislation, SupplierENGAGE™ can also support a whole range of other initiatives and activities such as private brand new product development and quality, diversity, sustainability and responsible procurement.

“Helping suppliers with all types of regulatory issues is an essential part of a pro-active supplier engagement programme that allows retailers to establish and maintain a good and positive working relationship that benefits both parties,” concludes Simon.

Kelly Cookson

Tel: 0115 727 0150


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