Speaking at a recent parliamentary reception, Asim Sarwar, managing director of United Wholesale (Scotland) and president of the SWA, described illicit trade of counterfeit goods as a “very worrying issue” for wholesalers and independent retailers at a time when he said the “recession is still biting and trade is already extremely challenging”.
“The illicit trade of goods which have been imported illegally, or are counterfeit products, is already hurting Scottish wholesalers, leading to lost profit for our members and their retail customers,” said Sarwar.
“So it is blatantly clear to us that we have reached the stage where we need to take a zero-tolerance approach to this very serious problem.”
Co-operation between private sector organisations and law-enforcement is key to tackling the issue, said Sarwar at the event, which was hosted by Jenny Marra, MSP for North West Scotland. In addition to the SWA, it included presentations from the Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group (SAITG) and Scottish Grocers’ Federation, highlighting the damaging effects illicit and counterfeit goods have on communities and the economy in Scotland.
“With the support of our law-enforcement and business partners, we need to say: enough is enough,” said Sarwar.
“Collectively, we can help tackle this problem through raising awareness and changing perceptions.
“We must influence the public not to buy illicit or counterfeit products while supporting legitimate businesses. This will make Scotland a hostile environment for serious organised criminals.”
Alan Dron, chair of the Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group, said the reception, which was attended by a number of MSPs, including justice secretary Kenny MacAskill, as well as representatives from trade and law enforcement organisations, provided an “excellent opportunity to build on the unique approach developed to reduce the scale, impact and cost of illicit trade and counterfeiting in Scotland”.
“Criminals have no scruples – all they care about is making money and it would be naive of anyone to think they care about the consequences of selling dangerous products to unwitting consumers,” he said.
Jenny Marra MSP, who last month introduced a motion that the Scottish Parliament should officially recognise the impact of illicit trade on businesses, said that every £1 spent on illicit goods takes £1 away from those businesses that “play by the rules”.
She also commented on the potentially dangerous nature of many illicit goods.
“You don’t know where they have come from and what is in them,” she said.