Tobacco manufacturers will step in to ensure retailers are not left with non-compliant stock as EUTPD II takes effect, according to wholesalers.

RN spoke to a number of wholesalers this week who said they still have supplies of pricemarked packs, 10s, 17s, 18s, 19s and branded packs, all of which will be banned from sale from 20 May. They said they expect them to be available “until very close to the cut-off period”.

Some wholesalers added, while they will not take any stock back, they have been told tobacco suppliers will do so after the May deadline.

“The tobacco suppliers will themselves take back any branded packs after the May cut-off,” Naeem Khaliq, Day-Today symbol group controller at United Wholesale Scotland, told RN. “They have teams of people calling on retailers and they are notifying them as to the process. They are saying if they have any branded stock left to call their local rep and they will come in and replace it.”

Richard Booth, director of trading, tobacco and category management at Bestway Wholesale, added: “Tobacco manufacturers tell us they are taking back stock directly from retailers.”

Rotherham retailer Maqsood Akhtar said he is keen to keep selling non-EUTPD II-compliant stock until the deadline and has been assured by two manufacturers they will change any unsold stock. He added while some lines are disappearing, he has started to see multipacks at cash and carries which JTI has said retailers can sell individually.

“I have seen them on sale in supermarkets before, but not at my cash and carry. My JTI rep gave us an official letter and says they can be sold separately, but you always get the odd customer who says ‘you can’t do that’,” he said.

Meanwhile, JTI and Imperial Tobacco both told RN they are continuing to focus on the management of stock.

“We anticipate that with accurate stock management, the issue of branded stock post 20 May should be alleviated,” a JTI spokesman said.