Wine tasting at the Herbert Baker Restaurant. File Picture: John Hogg
Wine tasting at the Herbert Baker Restaurant. File Picture: John Hogg

BP ‘sensitive’ to concerns over wine sales at express shops

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Aug 17, 2021

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DURBAN - BP SA said it was aware of and sensitive to the concerns raised around its “wine to go” offer at Pick n Pay Express stores.

Last week, the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in SA (Saapa SA) and its 23 alliance partners hosted a webinar in which they discussed the decision to allow petrol stations to have liquor licences.

Some of their concerns were that the venues were not the right places to sell alcohol; the move sent out the wrong message in a country with a drinking and driving problem; many Southern African Development Community countries did not allow alcohol to be sold at petrol stations; and it was a step backwards in efforts to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.

BP SA said it was aware of and sensitive to the concerns raised around the “wine to go” offer, and would continue to take guidance from regulators and all other stakeholders. “BP SA values open societies with a good balance on personal preferences, characterised by the rule of law, and respect to civic freedoms,” it said.

Referring to the Pick n Pay Express at BP Radiokop, which became the first site to launch the wine offer in June this year, BP said the wine would be sold for off-site consumption and in accordance with provincial legislation, specifically the Gauteng Liquor Act of 2003.

The company said that as part of its partnership with Pick n Pay, BP would be piloting its “wine to go” offer at a select number of Pick n Pay Express convenience stores.

“Customers’ expectations for convenience have amplified, and our convenience offers needed to adapt and respond to customer demands, in a responsible way,” it said.

Saapa SA director Maurice Smithers said: “They (BP SA) are not addressing the real issues we are raising. Their reply is diplomatic management-speak, framing the issue as being responsive to customer needs and civic freedoms – in other words, people have the right to buy alcohol where they choose.

“When I asked them whether they had had a whole bunch of customers asking them to sell wine at their shops, or did they decide for themselves that it was a good idea, they effectively refused to answer the questions. They also did not answer whether what they were doing was socially responsible.”

South Africans Against Drunk Driving founder and director Caro Smit said: “The ones who are potentially (alcohol) abusers, we need to take away the temptation and we need to definitely not allow alcohol to be sold in Pick n Pay stores in BP. We have to fight to save people.

“BP and Pick n Pay Express are going very much on what their pockets want. They are not going on society, they are not going on the personal preferences of the majority of people. They are working in a loophole of the law at the moment, so they are sneaking this through.”

Daily News

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