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Alcohol still on sale at Superdrug's Chatham branch after health and beauty chain orders removal

17 March 2014
by Lynn Cox

Superdrug's Chatham branch is still selling cheap alcohol today despite head office assurances it had taken the items off sale.

Earlier, a spokeswoman for the health and beauty chain insisted that the five stores, including Chatham, allowed to stock booze, had been ordered to stop after Chatham MP Tracey Crouch had raised concerns.

This wine was bought from Superdrug today after the company said it was no longer selling alcohol

But KentOnline can confirm the bottles were still being bought this afternoon. Our reporter was able to buy a bottle of wine for £4.19 from its Chatham High Street branch this afternoon. 

Staff had removed it from the front window display, but many brands were still on sale inside. We overheard shop assistants discussing media coverage of the issue and saying they had only been told to remove the drinks from the window display and not the shelves inside.
Superdrug had allowed some struggling branches to sell booze in an effort to save the shops and jobs. The Chatham branch on the High Street was one being allowed to push cut-price drinks in order to increase customers.
The drinks promotions are clearly displayed in the front window

The drinks promotions are clearly displayed in the front window

The decision was attacked by the town's MP Tracey Crouch, who accused the business, which mainly sells beauty and health products, of fuelling the binge drinking culture.

This morning a Superdrug spokesman said it would cease selling booze in the stores.

"Superdrug is a responsible retailer and takes feedback from customers very seriously..." - company spokesman

He added: "Superdrug is a responsible retailer and takes feedback from customers very seriously. 

"With this is mind we have decided to cease selling alcohol in the five Superdrug stores which currently offer this range.  
"The introduction of this category into a very small number of stores was a trial to see if this was a product area our customers wanted us to stock, to ensure the continued viability of these stores and to safeguard jobs on the high street."
Following that announcement, Ms Crouch said: "I am delighted that Superdrug have made the decision to withdraw alcohol from its stores. This is a victory for common sense and for those local residents who raised this with me."

Ms Crouch had branded its decision irresponsible and believed it was targeting younger customers with its promotions.

Shoppers could buy bottles of wine for just £2.49, while a brand of peach schnapps was on sale for just £4.49, which is at least £2 cheaper than in Tesco.

Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch

Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch

Ms Crouch, who is also chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse, said at the weekend: "I'm very disappointed because this isn't what their core selling is about. They're about health and beauty products.

"They are clearly marketing at young, female consumers and I don't think it's a responsible thing to do.

"I share the concerns about cheap booze in supermarkets and Superdrug is contributing to the issue of people pre-loading before they go out in an evening.

"They should remove alcohol from their stores. Other shops might follow Superdrug's lead, which will be damaging for our High Street and won't help us, as a nation, deal with young people binge drinking on cheap booze."

Superdrug in Chatham is selling cheap alcohol

Superdrug in Chatham is selling cheap alcohol

Prime Minister David Cameron has also previously pledged to crack down on promotional deals.

Superdrug managing director Joey Wat previously defended the alcohol sales, in a letter to the MP, saying it was the only way to stop some branches closing down.

About the Chatham branch, he wrote: "We sell alcoholic drinks in a very small number of our stores – only six out of 870.

"There is one reason for the sale of alcohol in these stores – to drive footfall and sales as the six are significant loss-making stores and at serious risk of closure.

"It is the last resort to save the jobs of our people."

None of the stores which sold alcohol has a pharmacy.

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