On July 27, all Pyaterochka chain stores in St. Petersburg stopped selling alcohol. As it turned out, the retailer was punished for selling alcohol to a minor three years ago. Market participants admit that the situation, which is hitting the company’s economy hard, although not quite ordinary, is not unique either. There are also conspiracy theories.
The fact that the Pyaterochka chain (part of the X5 Retail Group) stopped selling alcohol in St. Petersburg was told on July 27 by a Fontanka reader. According to him, he was unable to buy alcohol at several points of the retailer, employees said that the problem affects all stores. At the same time, you can buy beer and cider in retail outlets.
The press service of X5 Retail Group reported that sales were terminated due to the suspension of the license for the sale of alcohol in all Pyaterochka stores in St. Petersburg. “The decision was made by the licensing authorities in connection with the case three years ago. Then, alcohol was sold to a minor in one of the stores, and the fine was paid back in 2020. We are already taking all measures to renew licenses as soon as possible,” X5 noted.
According to the license register on the PAP website, the license was terminated on July 26. Reasons are not specified.
Who deprived Pyaterochka of a license for alcohol
Licenses for the sale of alcohol in St. Petersburg are issued and terminated by the Committee on Industrial Policy, Innovation and Trade. As Fontanka was informed in the department, the decision was made on the basis of information received from the court, which recognized that Pyaterochka had violated the law on alcohol circulation by selling it to a minor. The reason for which the news was received only now, the committee found it difficult to name. But they emphasized that there is no statute of limitations in this case, and the law does not provide for other options, except to suspend the license. Further, the decision on its renewal or cancellation will be made by Rosalkogolregulirovanie.
Rosalkogolregulirovanie reported that at the moment the department has not received any materials about the identified violation in the sphere of alcohol circulation in the Pyaterochka network. And since there are no documents, it is impossible to consider them and make a decision on the renewal and cancellation of the license, they added to the RAR. But the decision to suspend is really within the competence of the bodies of the subject of the federation, they specified there.
The reasons why the licensing authority may suspend, terminate or revoke a license are listed in Article 20 of Federal Law 171 (“On state regulation of the production and circulation of ethyl alcohol, alcoholic and alcohol-containing products and on limiting the consumption (drinking) of alcoholic products”). Among them are, for example, the detection of a violation that is the basis for revocation of a license. This includes the sale of alcohol to minors. In this case, the validity of the license shall be suspended until the date of entry into force of the decision taken by the court or the federal body for control and supervision to annul the license or to refuse to annul it. Also, the basis for suspension may be non-payment of the imposed fine or failure to eliminate the identified violations on time (the offender himself must report the elimination).
It is curious that the law on the circulation of alcohol explicitly specifies only the minimum period after which it is possible to start applying the procedure for suspension and cancellation of a license. But there is no deadline. That is, formally, it can be suspended and canceled even after three years, even after ten years.
The ban on the sale of alcohol in Pyaterochka is an “unprecedented tough measure”
Ivan Fedyakov, general director of the analytical agency INFOLine, considers the ban on the sale of alcohol in St. Petersburg for Pyaterochka “an unprecedentedly harsh measure.” “I don’t remember in practice that this was applied to federal networks,” he says.
The logic of the regulator, in his opinion, also does not hold water. “If a violation occurred in one of the stores, as a punishment, it would be possible to block the work of only this unit. If they wanted to punish the entire network, it is not clear why the suspension of the license occurred only in one subject of the Russian Federation, ”comments Ivan Fedyakov.
The fact that the materials arrived at the licensing authority after three years looks strange. Regulators have been less and less limited lately, but the situation when X5 Retail Group, which is on good terms with the state and recently received permission to open new stores in St. .
According to the expert, the increase in administrative pressure in a particular case may be part of more global processes. After the transition to the state administration of Danone and Baltika, not only foreign business, but also domestic business, where there is a share of foreign participation, falls into the risk zone. X5 Retail Group is registered in the Netherlands, he recalls. If Magnit managed to buy shares from foreign shareholders, X5 did not. “But, perhaps, he will be forced to do it if he has time,” Ivan Fedyakov emphasizes.
Interlocutors in the alcohol market do not exclude that the disproportionate punishment for the violation and the exercise of powers at such a late date may indicate the political background of such a decision. However, another large network believes that an attempt to pressure through the license is unlikely, and the suspension of the license after a long time after the discovery of a violation, although not a typical, but not an extraordinary case. A spokesman for another retail chain calls license suspension due to the sale of alcohol to a minor a rarity. “Usually a fine on the cashier,” he says. Most of the ships the company does win.
Another interlocutor of Fontanka believes that the matter is in personnel changes in the St. Petersburg police. “The new team dug up the case and decided to show the force of the law,” he says.
Be that as it may, the loss of the opportunity to sell alcohol is a significant blow to the chain’s economy, Ivan Fedyakov notes. Traditionally, alcohol takes 10 to 15% of the store’s revenue. But this is one of the highest margin categories that “feeds” stores, so the loss of this assortment can lead to losses. “When a store loses its license to sell alcohol, in more than half of the cases the store closes,” the expert emphasizes.