King’s Speech ‘disappointing’ for wholesale: FWD

FWD responds to the King’s Speech with concern at the new tobacco ban and opportunities missed to support the sector

FWD CEO James Bielby has responded to the King’s Speech, delivered in the House of Lords on 7 November, including raising concern about the ‘smoke-free generation’ tobacco bill leading to increased crime, opportunities missed to support the sector on its net zero ambitions, and the absence of wholesale crime in the Criminal Justice Bill.


Bielby acknowledged that more details were needed regarding the new tobacco ban, but said: “For our members, there must be an exemption for business-to-business sales to allow retailer workers to purchase tobacco from their wholesalers, whatever their age.

“There is a precedent for a wholesale exemption on displays and packaging – both of which are permitted in wholesale depots. These successes on tobacco policy, won by FWD, need to be replicated in the legislation.

“Unfortunately, restrictions on the purchase of tobacco could lead to increased crimes against wholesalers. This policy must not lead to an increase in the illicit market controlled by organised crime gangs, hitting our members’ legitimate sales, tax revenues and driving unregulated youth access to tobacco.”

Net zero

Bielby also raised concern about the government’s omission to provide support for the wholesale sector to drive forward its ambitions to achieve net zero by 2040.

“Business has shown that we are prepared to lead the net zero transition if the government is prepared to create a supportive environment to unlock private investment and bolster our ambition.

“FWD welcomes the plans to accelerate grid connections for clean energy projects and incentivise investment, but a lack of clarity around how this will be achieved means business is left in the dark once more. Today’s speech missed a clear opportunity to offer the wholesale sector support through substantial investment in electric infrastructure for road haulage or even offering incentives for industrial building decarbonisation.

“At FWD, our members have committed to achieving net zero by 2040, a whole decade ahead of the government’s targets, but we are left disheartened by the lack of prioritisation and support from the government for business in this crucial endeavour.”

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