John-TerryUK cash and carry companies are in the final stages of planning to break alcohol sales records when the football World Cup hits the nation’s screens in June. With England forecast to go far and perhaps win the biggest football trophy (we can but hope), the spectre of a ferocious price war among the giant multiples is a big anxiety.

But it is not only the big brand beers and lagers which are involved in the planning – and the worries. Snacks and crisps, confectionery, soft drinks and other impulse lines will be big sellers as football fans sip and munch their way through game after televised game.

Promotional deals between the big alcohol suppliers and wholesalers were being finalised as Wholesale Manager went to press but wholesalers are hoping for some flexibility on behalf of suppliers if the expected multiple price war gets out of hand.

One leading cash and carry wholesaler told Wholesale Manager: “We have big plans which I obviously do not want to reveal as I have large cash and carry competitors not far away, but my main worry concerns Tesco principally, and then Asda and Morrisons, all of which have big stores in my area.

“There are rumours that they will all cut the price of the most popular lager brands to shreds in the race to capture the football-loving couch potato in the run up to the biggest booze bonanza of the year outside Christmas.

“The big multi-packs will probably be cut in price by as much as 15 to 20% from today’s prices, and we will not have any chance at all of giving our local shop customers the prices at which they can compete. But we have some specific ideas up our sleeve to help these small shops,” he said.

Some cash and carry managers we spoke to told us they hoped that the Government would step in earlier this year with a minimum price for alcohol. This move has been demanded by the health lobbies to curb binge drinking. But the forthcoming general election has blocked this idea.

Generally, wholesale managers say that the big brewers and wine suppliers have been co-operative in helping them to plan big special World Cup promotional displays of big brand lagers and beers in cash and carry depots, and some price deals are being negotiated which could help.

“Suppliers do not want all their eggs in the Tesco basket, but they do not have any control or influence over the price at which Tesco will eventually reveal for their World Cup promotions. It is a no brainer that the big multiples – and the Co-op too, which is becoming an increasing threat to local shops who use cash and carries – will want to score big-time when the World Cup comes around,” said another Wholesale Manager reader.

What happens in England’s beer market over the next few weeks looks like being as compelling as what happens to John Terry and our team out there on the pitch.

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