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Friday, May 21, 2010

Tackling problem drinking at the source

Over the past few months, politicians have been canvassing our opinions and asking for our votes. At Tesco, we don't ask our customers what they think just once every five years. They are constantly voting on our performance, day in, day out. And if we get things wrong, they will go and give their custom to our competitors.

That's why we are always consulting our customers on what they want and how we can help. Like them, we want town centres to be places where people feel safe. That's good for business. But it is also good for our staff, who often live just around the corner from where they work.

You can't turn on the television or read a newspaper without hearing or reading about binge-drinking. We know it gives rise to a serious health problem. But there is also a point about basic decency and living in a civilised society: it's not much fun, particularly if you are elderly, going out at night and encountering a group of binge drinkers.

So, we decided to ask our customers what they thought. This is what they told us. Nearly 70 per cent thought excessive drinking was one of the most serious issues facing the country, while 61 per cent were concerned about anti-social behaviour as a result of drinking. These figures ought to set the politicians thinking – they have certainly got Tesco thinking.

There isn't a simple solution and it isn't something we can tackle on our own. But we are announcing today some ideas which we hope will kick-start a proper debate and lead to some real progress.

We welcome the new Government's commitment to act on below-cost selling of alcohol and today I pledge that we will support Government-led action to make this happen across the UK. We will also support any future discussions on a minimum price for alcohol. . . . . .

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