The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) has called on the Scottish government to make wholesalers trading to both businesses and members of the public partially exempt from new minimum unit pricing (MUP) legislation.

Scottish businesses with a premises licence will be required to abide by MUP when it comes into force in May. Under the law, wholesalers who trade to the public and retailers must hold a premises licence ​​​​​​​and charge the same minimum price on alcohol to all customers. However, wholesalers who solely serve businesses are not required to have a premises licence and are therefore exempt from MUP.

FWD chief executive James Bielby told RN that 42 wholesalers across Scotland will be affected and is working with the Scottish government to ensure MUP does not apply to wholesalers trading to both types of customers.

“MUP is mandatory for all licensed premises and a small number of wholesalers in Scotland hold premises licences for non-trade sales,” he said. “The legislation is intended for sales to the public rather than trade sales, so the FWD is working with the Scottish government to allow the affected wholesalers to continue selling to their customers at trade prices as well as direct to consumers.”

However, Ferhan Ashiq, of Day-Today Ashiqs in Prestonpans, said the campaign could affect competition. “MUP could encourage wholesalers like Costco to change their business model to be wholly retail- er or consumer-focused.

Retailers would be encouraged to shop around. This can only be good for competition in terms of pricing and may enhance the range of products available.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “The draft guidance is currently out for comment to those involved in the implementation and this includes wholesalers. We have had several discussions with wholesalers concerning minimum unit pricing.”

A Scottish Wholesale Association spokeswoman added it is having conversations with the government and will advise affected wholesalers in due course.