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New SABMiller award highlights importance of responsible retailing

14 May 2013

Earlier today I was pleased to present the first ever SABMiller Responsible Retailer award at a ceremony in London hosted by the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), the professional body for people working in the licensed retail sector.  

The award marks four years of SABMiller’s collaboration with the BII.  It was introduced this year to highlight the importance of enforcing the laws around selling alcohol – particularly when it comes to not serving under-age drinkers and people who are drunk.

We have been funding the BII Scholars’ Programme since 2009.  It is a nationally accredited, life-long, portable qualification which provides training to staff in the UK’s smaller pubs and shops and aims to raise the standard of responsible retailing.  The course teaches participants about the UK’s alcohol licensing laws, making sure they know how to apply these laws in the day-to-day selling of alcohol – for example, that it is their legal duty to refuse alcohol to anyone who appears to be drunk – as well as how to deal with the difficult and stressful situations that can arise when refusing to serve underage or drunken customers.   

Since the scheme started nearly four thousand people across the UK have completed the training and attained the Level 1 Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing.  The feedback from people who have participated in the training has been overwhelmingly positive and it appears to be delivering results.  For example, in 2011 fifty candidates were trained as part of the Halton Responsible Retailing Programme, an area of the north-west with one of the worst records for under-age sales and alcohol-related admissions to hospital by under 18s. Halton Borough Council went on to report a reduction in test purchase failure rates and a significant improvement in anti-social behaviour statistics.

Janet Wardle, who was today’s winner, is an example of the standard to which we would like to see all bar and retail staff aspire and achieve.  According to her manager, Janet is known for being meticulous in the way she implements the law - checking the ID of anyone who looks under 25; making sure all refusals are logged accurately; supporting younger staff so they also have the confidence to apply the law, and dealing sensitively and professionally with any conflict that results from a refusal.   

Ultimately, by intervening before an illegal sale of alcohol takes place, bar and counter staff can prevent irresponsible and harmful drinking.  That is something that SABMiller and all the licensees who were at today’s awards ceremony agree is important.    

Find out more about the SABMiller Scholars’ Programme.


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