South Africa issues petroleum company bp with liquor licence first of its kind

SOUTH AFRICA – The multinational oil and gas company, bp, has broken the record of becoming the first petroleum company in South Africa to be granted a liquor licence.

The company has collaborated with one of its convenience partners, Pick n Pay, to offer a new product dubbed wine-to-go.

With this, South Africans can pop in at Pick n Pay Express located at the petroleum station and grab a bottle.

This according to bp forms part of its redefining convenience strateg, aimed to deliver a superior customer experience, whether in-store or virtually.

bpSA provides a unique convenience offering through Pick n Pay Express, bp Express and Wild Bean Café. Further, they have partnered with Mr D to offer home delivery.

“As a brand that emphasizes safety and convenience, we are excited to offer wine takeaway sales through Pick n Pay Express for customers looking to pop in an out…. to go pop the cork at home.

“With delivered convenience being a central pillar in the bpSA Convenience Strategy, we are also exploring opportunities for customers to receive their wine directly at their doorstep at the touch of a button through food delivery Apps,” bpSA head of convenience, Belinda Petersen said.

The company has further highlighted that it will be availing the product in strict adherence to laws governing the sale of liquor, including the recent level 3 restrictions put in place.

bp has indicated it has debuted the wine shelves at its Radiokop branch, and plans to roll out more to selected bp sites throughout the country.

The launch has attracted a myriad of reactions with some questioning its legality, indicating that the issuance of the liquor licence to a petrol retailer is not allowed as per the country’s Liquor Act, especially on the proposed amendments.

Also, some industry players have aired out their opinion that the petroleum company should extend its offering to include other alcoholic drinks. “This is just opening up a big can of worms,” states Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, owner of Brewsters Craft on a LinkedIn post.

Alcohol industry laments restrictions on off-consumption sales

The alcohol industry in South Africa has further reacted to the new Covid-19 restrictions which would only see alcohol sales off-site permitted from Monday to Thursday from 10am to 6pm.

Alcohol sales for onsite consumption will be permitted as per licence conditions up to 21:00, and consumption in public spaces are prohibited.

South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) has issued a statement that acknowledges the government’s decision to consider preserving the economic livelihoods of South Africa’s citizens, but calls for greater effort to be deployed in the vaccine rollout.

It also called for an explanation of the rationale behind the decision to restrict retail alcohol sales over the weekend.

“This approach denies the average working person – most of whom are unable to go shopping during the week – the right to legally purchase alcohol for home consumption during their sparse free time. It is arbitrary and punitive to lower-income groups,” said Salba chairperson, Sibani Mngadi.

The Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) has expressed its concern about the indefinite restriction on the off-site consumption of alcohol sales.

“There is still no evidence that restrictions on off-consumption sales will assist in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

“We believe that people should also be given the option to purchase alcohol and enjoy it, in moderation, in the comfort of their homes – thereby avoiding social gatherings,” Basa said.

The association pointed out about the unintended consequences of limiting retail hours, which further entrenches the illicit industry, which uses these restrictions as an opportunity to sell illicit products to the public.

The restrictions will also place a major strain on retailers who are still trying to recover from the previous alcohol bans and sales restrictions, Basa said.

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