Asia-Pacific Breweries (Singapore) Trains Beer Promoters To Sell Alcohol Responsibly

As talks continue between industry players and the authorities over the conditions under which the retail hours of takeaway liquor may be extended, Asia Pacific Breweries (Singapore) said it has trained most of its beer promoters how to sell alcohol responsibly.

It yesterday called for a press conference to announce this, after the company and other major alcohol suppliers had responded to the Government’s plan to impose curbs on alcohol sale and consumption in order to deal with alcohol-induced public disamenities, with the argument that such trouble is typically caused by only a minority of irresponsible drinkers.

Yesterday, APB, which owns and brews for a number of brands, including Tiger Beer, Heineken and Anchor, said more than eight in 10 of its 580 brand promoters, who work in over 500 coffee shops and hawker centres islandwide, are now better equipped to recognise drunk customers and underage drinkers, as well as handle alcohol-related situations, after they attended a three-hour session that included role playing.

Training began in January, and APB said it would train all its promoters by next month.

APB’s initiative does not directly relate to the liquor consumption and retail curbs that kicked in this month under new laws, though its head of corporate relations, Ms Shannen Fong, said: “What we’re trying to do and demonstrate to the government is that operators, largely, are responsible. We want to be able to sell, and we often do sell responsibly.” She added that when this does not happen, it is usually due to knowledge gaps.

Under the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act, public liquor consumption and sale of takeaway alcohol are no longer allowed from 10.30pm to 7am daily. Stricter rules apply in Geylang and Little India, which have been designated Liquor Control Zones.

Ms Fong said that while many promoters already have strategies to help them handle potentially troublesome clients, the training has added to their tool kits and given assurance to those who are using the right approach when dealing with such customers.

Turning away intoxicated customers at coffee shops is better in the long run, as liquor licences could be affected if alcohol is sold irresponsibly, she added.

She said the most common types of drinkers encountered by beer promoters are those who are noisy, those who are drunk but want to order more and those who get emotional after drinking.

Beer promoter Bang Yun, 26, who has worked three years at Lau Pa Sat, said promoters would try to distract tipsy drinkers and get them to eat something or drink water.

Promoters would tell drinkers that safety is paramount or ask the drinkers’ friends to persuade them to stop drinking, said Ms Ann Koh, 50, who also works at Lau Pa Sat.

Outlet managers and supervisors of three companies, Kopitiam Investment, S-11 F&B Holdings and another that did not want to be named, have joined the training programme, but APB is trying to get more coffee shops and hawker centres to come on board.

Mr Vincent Cheong, Kopitiam’s corporate communications manager, said the training benefits the company’s staff and customers. Patrons who do not drink can enjoy a more conducive dining environment without disturbance from unruly drinkers, he said.

The Ministry of Home Affairs welcomed APB’s initiative and said the programme would help address public disorder and disamenities that arise from excessive drinking. “Liquor suppliers and retailers are encouraged to adopt measures towards responsible liquor sale, in accordance with the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act,” said a spokesperson.



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