Ferhan Ashiq

Ferhan Ashiq

Plans to restrict the display of beers, wines and spirits in Scottish stores are “unworkable” and could threaten the survival of independent retailers, the government has been warned.

As part of a campaign to reduce problematic drinking, the Scottish government is consulting on measures to restrict advertising of beers, wines and spirits.

In small shops, alcohol would have to be stocked out of sight while bigger stores would be forced to keep products containing alcohol away from entrances, exits and checkouts.

At a meeting to gauge the reaction of retailers to the scheme, Ferhan Ashiq, the past Scottish president of the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed), warned the proposed restrictions threatened the survival of independent retailers.

“With the high costs we are facing, retailers don’t have the mental or financial capacity to deal with any further legislation. We are tapped out. Some of our members may not even survive this year,” he said.

Ferhan, who runs a shop in East Lothian, added: “It feels like independent retailers are public enemy number one to the Scottish government. We face an onslaught of legislation, whether it is DRS [deposit return scheme], MUP [minimum unit pricing], the banning of disposable vapes, the restrictions on high fat, sugar and salt foods [HFSS].

“Independent retailers believe that the government should be tackling the issue of problem drinking through better health education and cultural change, not by penalising retailers who are trying to earn a living and providing a living for the people who work for us.

“Alcohol in itself isn’t harmful when taken in moderation. It is only large quantities that are the problem.

“With a great many Fed members running stores in socially and economically deprived areas, we will definitely feel the results of any legislation.”

Following the meeting, the Fed’s Scottish president Aleem Farooqi dismissed the proposals as “simplistic, unworkable and another massive threat to the livelihoods of independent retailers.”