WSTA Events

The WSTA has the largest and broadest membership base of any trade association in our sector; multi-channel, multi-category, national and international, start-ups through to global brands.

Webinar: Post-Brexit for Independent Merchants

»Date: 20th May 2020, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

»Venue: Virtual Webinar (registration required)

»Led by: Miles Beale, WSTA CEO

»Open to: Independent merchants

However you and your business is dealing with the impact of COVID-19, the WSTA is here to assist. If you are an independent wine and/or spirit merchant, the WSTA is teaming up with The Wine Merchant magazine to host a free one hour webinar that aims to advise you on industry issues, the assistance available for independent merchants – both government and WSTA assistance – and support and guidance during this critical time for the industry.

The WSTA is teaming up with The Wine Merchant magazine to bring

The WSTA will share insights across a range of topics of immediate and urgent relevance to your business, including:

  • The state of the wines and spirits market in the UK
  • Support from government during COVID-19 such as CJRS, loans, business rates
  • Risk and opportunities for independent shops, and the increase in localism
  • COVID-19 specific compliance, as well as licensing and HMRC
  • Brexit transition period and potential new trading arrangements

Please register for free here:

If you registered for this event, you will be able to access the full recording and slides using the following link. The link is password protected – the password can be found in the attendee post-webinar email.


Webinar recording and slides


If you haven’t received the password, please email for access.



Five key learnings from this week’s webinar


1. Coronavirus has caused consumer habits and buying practices to change 
Sales in the on-trade have collapsed, whilst online sales for alcohol have increased. In the off-trade, sales have also increased but there are questions around how sustainable this growth is.

In terms of supply, there are some regional issues (supplies of South African wine, for example) but the feedback WSTA is getting is that supplies are getting through and there are sufficient stocks.


2. There is help available for wine and spirit merchants
Time to pay arrangements, business loans, rates relief for retail and hospitality businesses are all available, and the Government has announced that the Job Retention Scheme has been extended until October, with increasing flexibility. Further details will be announced by the end of the month.

The WSTA continues to make the case to Government that this support does not go far enough – the Government must recognise the value of the supply chain and extend support to businesses that supply the hospitality sector.

The WSTA has asked for time to pay arrangements for duty to be simplified, and also asked for the system to be implemented to allow stock to be placed back into duty suspense to aid cashflow, along with a bad debt relief for excise duty scheme that would work in a similar way to bad debt relief for VAT


3. What effect will Brexit have on independent wine merchants?
No indication that UK will seek an extension by the end of the June, meaning UK transition ends on 31st December. The WSTA has identified 3 possible outcomes for the end of year – no agreement with the EU in which we fall back on WTO trade rules; a ‘negotiated no deal’ with some agreements in some sectors; or a negotiated and comprehensive trade agreement.

After December 31st, the UK Government expects importers of alcohol to make full customs declarations, and full safety and security declarations. The WSTA expects CHIEF system to be in use for some time, and does not expect no deal easements to be replicated.

The WSTA expects the return of duty free in some form and postponed VAT accounting will be available.

The UK Global Tariff was published on Tuesday – £10 for still wine if <13% abv, £12 if >13% and <15%, and £26 for sparkling (all per 100 litres). The UK has set out what a free trade area with the EU could look like. This contains helpful language on trade and customs facilitations, and is similar to EU’s agreement with Canada. The document is positive, although time is running out for this to be agreed.

VI-1 forms are costly and burdensome and will be required unless the UK government abolishes them. A suite of tests required for each shipment could run to around 400 euros as per WSTA estimates. This cost will be passed down supply chain. VI-1 forms could present a huge barrier to trade – the WSTA has identified a genuine risk to small retailers, especially if hard-to-source wines in small quantities become financially unviable.

There are also labelling changes that will come into force on 31st December that merchants must be aware of.


4. The WSTA have a number of priorities and asks of Government as the Transition period ends on 31st December

  • UK Government must seek to minimise disruption to historic trade flows and keep the UK at the heart of the global wine trade
    Wine tariffs should be suspended, and the 25% tariff on US whiskey and bourbon should be removed
  • Don’t introduce new quotas and remove or suspend all existing quotas
    UK Government must secure EU partnership agreements and FTAs with key partners – USA, NZ, Australia, Japan
  • WSTA is urging Government not to wait on outcome of negotiations, and to take steps now to make trade conditions better by enacting, or committing to enact, the above
  • The WSTA has written to Michael Gove MP with a suite of specific asks:
    – Scrap import certificates
    – Commit to diverge on some EU rules – for example around flavoured gin, which would allow UK regulations to be more agile
    – UK must join World Wine Trade Group

The WSTA will not stop making the case to Government that our sector needs greater support both around support during the Coronavirus pandemic and as we approach the end of the Transition period on 31st December. However, it can’t do this alone and needs the support of all those on the webinar to secure a broader definition of hospitality to protect the supply chain during the Coronavirus outbreak, and favourable trading conditions after the Transition period on 31st December.


5. Write to your MP!
The WSTA is urging members – and non-members – to contact their local MP calling for more support for the sector as we approach the Transition deadline. The WSTA has MP letter templates available for members – contact for more information.

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