The new excise policy 2007-08, cleared by the Haryana cabinet will allow the sale of wine through department stores at the shopping malls from April, 2007. Addressing reporters on Friday last after a cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said a new license would be introduced for retail sale of wines through department stores in shopping malls.
Some of our readers would still remember dark and horrific tales of 1996-99 when Haryana had declared prohibition. Since then it has turned full circle and is now seeking to promote healthy drinking habits
Section 4.6 of the official policy of 2007-08 states, 'In order to promote healthy drinking of liquor with low alcoholic content, a new license in form L-10B is introduced for retail sale of wines to be given to the departmental stores located in shopping malls in the cities on an experimental basis having a turnover of more than Rs. 50 lakhs per annum on an annual license fee of Rs. 25000'.
The news will bring cheers to importers, distributors and the wine lovers. It will tremendously improve the availability of wines for consumers. Air-conditioned shopping malls will also ensure that wines are stored at more acceptable temperatures.
The policy is expected to force the Delhi government to soon follow a similar policy, which has already been declared, but not implemented due to political compulsions.
Maharashtra had already implemented this policy in October 2006. Wines are already available in supermarkets in Bangalore and Chandigarh.
With super stores like Wal-Mart and Tesco planning to enter India the market and the big Indian corporations like Reliance and Big Bazaar chains already present, sales are expected to get a tremendous boost even with the current heavy import duty regime.
Neeraj Sachdeva, owner of Lake Forest Wines wine and liquor store at the Sahara mall and Supermart in the DLF Galleria in Gurgaon cannot hide his excitement. In a chat with Subhash Arora he said, 'I was very happy to learn about the policy when I was in London. It will help state excise to collect more revenues and keep the consumers a much larger choice of wines'. He is very impressed with the pro-active and dynamic vision of the decision makers. 'Two years ago barely sold 600 cases of wine. This year already more than 7000 cases have been sold!' he beams with excitement
The new policy will free him of the vagaries of the old system where he not only has to pay over Rs. 10 lakhs a year for one license, but is unsure if the 'lottery system' would get him the renewal of the license at all. 'Now I can concentrate on building the finest wine retail shop in the area. Even if it means I have to sell groceries worth Rs. 50 lakhs to make it happen!' The policy, as already mentioned will allow the wine sale only in the departmental stores.
Neeraj brings wine retailing expertise from California where he already owns wine and liquor stores. 'I can now get my own wholesale license and bring the finest Californian wines,' he adds. He opened the stores last year and claims to have already captured 40% of the Indian wine market segment in Gurgaon, aggressively marketing Sula and Champagne Indage wines.' He also claims to have brought down the prices of wines drastically as there is no restriction on the maximum selling price in Haryana.