Restrictions no big deal, local alcohol firm says

Restrictions no big deal, local alcohol firm says

Restrictions no big deal, local alcohol firm says

A group enjoys a dinner with rakı and beer in Istanbul. The new regulation limits alcohol consumption in public places. Hürriyet photo

Efe Alkollü İçecekler has defended a recent law limiting the sale and advertisement of alcoholic beverages yesterday, shortly after another leading firm, Diageo, criticized the bans.

Efe Alkollü İçecekler CEO Egemen Demirtaş said yesterday that the new restrictions on alcohol would not hurt their business, adding that they considered the recent reaction by Diageo, the market leader, to be "unfair." 

"The amendments on advertisement and promotion are not likely to affect our activities negatively. We do not share the view that the amendments were made to ban the use of alcohol, and we do not want our investors to have such an opinion,” Demirtaş said. “We see similar, even harsher regulations [on the sale of alcohol] in many countries, particularly in the European Union, and the sector’s activities continue in a healthy way.”

Demirtaş also criticized Diageo’s remarks on the bill on sale of alcohol beverages.

‘Diageo stance unfair’

“We find it unfair and wrong for a firm dominant in Turkey’s rakı market to state that the government has not kept the alleged promises made to them,” said Demirtaş. He also voiced concern that Diageo’s statement would cause a perception that the sector is facing volatile regulations in Turkey.

“We are worried that these statements will cause a perception around the world that the alcoholic beverage sector in Turkey is exposed to volatile regulations, we do not find this right and fair,” said Demirtaş.

Demirtaş’s remarks came after Diageo, the world’s largest spirits company and owner of Turkey’s leading rakı brand, expressed concerns over the planned alcohol restrictions.

“While we have regard and respect for both the views of the Turkish government and the country’s legislative and regulatory processes, we would be highly disappointed if the most restrictive scenario came to pass,” Diageo said in a written statement May 25.

“Diageo is proud of its products, its brands and its commitment to responsible drinking,” it said.

London-based Diageo, which owns global brands such as Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff, acquired Mey İçki for $2.1 billion early in 2011. The company also said the government had made promises regarding legislation. “We would have appreciated it if we had had an opportunity to give our opinion in the process so far. As a party that will be severely affected, we would still understand if such an opportunity were seized in the future,” it said, adding that they were ready to work with authorities to combat problems related to alcoholism.

Meanwhile, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group chair Oktay Vural also expressed dissatisfaction with the new law yesterday. Vural recalled the prime minister’s earlier remarks that he didn’t want “tipsy youth” and said these remarks were defamatory to youth. “What kind of an insult is this? One would think that all my youths are alcoholic.”

The bill governing the sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and drugs, was voted on in an open ballot early May 24 in Parliament around 7 a.m. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), refused to vote. Out of the 327 chairs the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) currently occupies, some 193 deputies voted in favor while four refused.