Alun Michael, the Labour and Co-operative Party MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, told Retail Week that Tesco’s intervention last week was “a bit of a PR gimmick”. He added: “It would be more impressive for them to get on with it quietly.”
Speaking exclusively to Retail Week at the Co-operative Group’s Fairtrade event last week, Michael said: “Whether it is a serious initiative will depend on what happens outside of the headlines.
“They could have taken an initiative like this without a press release, so it does cast some doubt unless they are going to take a lead in the way they market alcohol themselves. They do not have to wait for the Government to do that.”
A Tesco spokesman said: “It is most definitely not a PR gimmick. It is an important issue that needs discussion at the highest level.”
Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls welcomed Tesco’s intervention. He said: “The fact that retailers are making these proposals is to be encouraged.”
Retailers’ views are being considered as part of a ministerial group on tackling the UK’s binge-drinking culture, which Balls and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith are chairing.
This week, Asda unveiled a series of measures to restrict access to alcohol in its stores and make it harder for under-18s to break the law. From April 7, the grocer will also stop selling alcohol between midnight and 6am in about 100 town centre stores.
Separately, Tesco, Waitrose, Threshers, Londis and Budgens have agreed to stop selling super-strength lager and cider in a voluntary scheme that includes more than 25 premises in London’s borough of Westminster.