Suppliers need to withdraw support from retailers convicted of selling illegal tobacco to protect the reputation of local community stores.

That’s the message from Bestway, which has stubbed out Amir Sohail’s membership to its cash & carry depots after he was convicted of selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

Amani News in Levenshulme, Manchester, previously had regular deliveries from Bestway, but the wholesaler is no longer supplying the store, and it has also had its tobacco gantry ripped out and taken away by JTI.

“Selling illegal tobacco must be seen as a crime that doesn’t pay, which is why, following this prosecution, Bestway has decided to withdraw all future support from this particular shop,” said James Hall, Bestway group director of symbol. 

before after
Ripped out: Before and after pictures, show what remains of Amir Sohail’s tobacco gantry,
following his conviction for selling black market cigarettes and tobacco.

He called on other suppliers to follow the company’s lead. He added: “I do not know of any supplier who would choose to deal with convicted criminals. If we withdraw support for those found guilty of breaking the law, we are collectively sending out a message – both to shoppers and other retailers – that we are taking a zero-tolerance approach to stores that continue to trade irresponsibly.”

In August, a court heard how Sohail had installed a delivery chute to send cigarettes and tobacco down to the shop from the first floor. When trading standards visited the store after an anonymous tip-off, they discovered the system and £10,000-worth of tobacco. Sohail was fined £3,000, with almost £1,000 in costs. He had already been prosecuted for similar offences in 2014.

More illicit tobacco news

Illicit tobacco: 27 offences and still allowed to work in retail
Illicit tobacco: “Kick offenders out of retail for good”
The illicit trade fight has only just begun