Getting your UK Supermarket and Corner Shop Licences

Figuring out the licences necessary for retail, whether you are operating a supermarket, convenience store, or corner shop can be a challenge. There are a number of licences available and regulations to meet before you can begin to start trading. It is often vital that you acquire these licences, or risk being fined or having your business closed down.

The below licensing information could also be relevant to owners of department stores, farm shops, gift shops, and other retail businesses, especially if that business sells alcohol in any form.

John Gaunt & Partners are the licensing specialists, and work with you to help you get the best possible licences for your business. If you wish to speak to a member of our team today, fill out a contact form or get in touch directly through 0114 266 8664 or, or carry on reading to find out more.

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What Licences do I need to run a supermarket, convenience store or Corner Shop?

Supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops can be incredibly heavily regulated, depending on what you wish to sell. 

Before all else though, if you are opening an independent business, you will need to become a registered company. From registering, continue following the steps below to understand what licences may be relevant to your business.

1. Register your Supermarket or Corner Shop as a food business

You must register your supermarket or corner shop as a food business with your local council/authority if selling food makes up over 25% of your trade.

This is free to do, but you must make sure you fill in the documentation with the correct council, which is always the council that oversees the area where your supermarket or corner shop is based. If you are unsure of which council your business belongs to, use the local council finder today.

Make sure that when you register your supermarket or corner shop that you allow for at least 28 days before opening. If you need further information on this, reach out to our team today, who would be happy to provide guidance. 

2. Premises Licence

As a supermarket, convenience store or corner shop, it is highly likely that you will sell alcohol from your premises. To do this, you must first obtain a Premises Licence.

This licence is assigned to your business premises, and is the first of two licences you will need to sell alcohol.

Consider these factors when applying for a Premises Licence for your Supermarket or Cornershop:

The Operating Schedule of your business

It is vital that your Operating Schedule is accurate so you can maintain your Premises Licence.

First and foremost, you Operating Schedule must detail how you plan to promote these licensing objectives:

  • Public Safety
  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • The protection of children from harm

Please be aware that this section of the application is of the utmost importance, and a single mistake could have long-term ramifications for what your licence will allow.

John Gaunt and Partners have years of experience in licensing and understanding the needs and operations of businesses. If you require guidance and knowledge on how best to fill out your licence application, we can help you both fill out the vital details and offer advice to help you make the most of your Premises Licence.

Your supermarket, convenience store or corner shop hours of operation

While this may seem a simple element to understand, accurately filling out your hours of operation is vital to your business running correctly, and may become a point of contention if filled out incorrectly.

Consider whether there is a home delivery service or delivery partner, and whether the sales match your store opening hours. When the sale legally takes place is quite a technical point and you may wish to take advice on this.

When filling out your hours, consider getting in touch with John Gaunt and Partners, who can help make the most of your suggested hours, offer pros and cons to your suggestions, and make sure your home delivery service or delivery partner sales align with your hours of operation.

Prove you are eligible to work within the UK

It is necessary that you prove that you are eligible to work within the UK. Please be aware that there may be an immigration status check that takes place to prove your eligibility.

Acquire DPS consent

You must gain consent from your Designated Premises Supervisor when applying for a Premises Licence. When you acquire consent, be sure that they understand that they will be responsible for any licensing communications that arise while acting as the DPS.

Consider the plan of your premises

Providing a plan of your premises is a necessary and important part of completing your Premises Licence application. These elements are most frequently found in businesses, but this list is not exhaustive, and you may require the knowledge of an expert to make sure this section is correct:

  • Consider the boundaries of your property
  • Your tills, or automatic checkouts locations
  • Where are the exits and entrances for your premises?
  • Where are toilets and changing rooms located?
  • Are there staircases or steps that could pose a risk?
  • Do your premises have fire escapes, and where are they?
  • Consider licensable activities, for instance if a charity sets up a stand in your supermarket or cornershop
  • Are there any other raised sections in your premises?
  • Do you have safety equipment in your premises? Where can it be found?
  • Consider any other activities or parts of your premises that will need noting down

Till or Automatic Checkout locations

If your business is soon to be introducing self-service checkouts, or if you are planning to move a till on your premises, you should be aware that this will constitute a variation to your licence. If you are unsure of what this entails, please contact us today.

When taking note of your licensable area on your plan, make sure to outline it in red. Consider also that finding the correct balance between maximising your trading and licensable activities space versus risking the success of your application can be difficult. Consider speaking to John Gaunt and Partners regarding this, who can offer assistance.

Getting advice from the experts

It is not recommended that you attempt to pull together every aspect of your Premises Licence application without the advice of an expert.

Your Licence can be objected to if it is filled in incorrectly or missing information. In the event that your application faces objections, it will have to be considered by a Local Licensing Committee. They hold the power to allow or refuse your licence, and each day that your licence is awaiting grant is another day that your business must delay opening.

Parts accidentally missed off of your application can also cause issues for your corner shop or supermarket in the long run. There are many activities and other elements that a Premises Licence can permit, but if your business operates outside of what is permitted, you may find your licence is reviewed where it could then be revoked and your business closed.

When filling out your licence, you may also expect feedback from a number of Responsible Authorities, including the Fire Office, Environmental Health, and the Police. We understand that it can be an intimidating experience when dealing with third parties like the Police, especially if they ask for amendments to your application. In these circumstances, we are well experienced in protecting your interests, and can offer feedback and advice on next steps.

As the experts in licensing law, John Gaunt and Partners can and will work with you to make the most of your application, which can be substantially more difficult to complete as a supermarket or corner shop business owner. Reach out to us today through our contact form, or get in touch directly through 0114 266 8664 or if you require advice and support with your application.

If you require representation because your application has gone to Committee, our team are the experts in supporting your application and giving you the best chance of succeeding.

3. Personal Licence

You must have a Personal Licence assigned to your Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) if you wish to sell alcohol. This licence is the second that you will need to sell alcohol in your supermarket or corner shop.

A minimum of one Personal Licence is needed per premises (but it is often good practice to have more), and it is worth assigning this licence to someone who will be at the business frequently, such as a general manager. Bear in mind also, that your assigned DPS will need to pass a DBS check, and must not have forfeited a Personal Licence within 5 years of the application date.

Also consider that Personal Licence holders will need an accredited qualification. This can be the Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH) as provided by John Gaunt and Partners, or another qualification. 

If you are trying to acquire a Personal Licence in Scotland, we also offer SCPLH qualification courses.

If you need an accredited qualification, we offer APLH courses alongside a range of others, such as Food Safety, Allergen Awareness and Customer Service. These courses offer their own applications that can help your business succeed.

4. Food Premises Approval Licence

If selling food constitutes more than 25% of your trade, a Food Premises Approval Licence (sometimes known as Food Business Registration) is needed for your supermarket, convenience store or corner shop.

What is a Food Premises Approval Licence?

This licence is required for businesses that handle meat, fish, eggs or dairy products, and requires approval from your local council after being inspected.

If food is less than 25% of your trade, you do not handle wild game meat products, and you do not sell food outside the county you are registered in, you do not need to be approved. 

If this licence is relevant to your business, our team can help you through the registration process

Economic Operators ID (Tobacco & Cigarettes)

An economic operator's ID allows you to sell tobacco-based products such as cigarettes in the UK.

Do you need a licence to sell cigarettes in the UK?

If you wish to sell cigarettes from your supermarket or corner shop in the UK, you will need to obtain an economic operator ID.

This ID is relevant for businesses who:

  • manufacture or import cigarettes and other tobacco products
  • store cigarettes or other tobacco products in a warehouse
  • sell cigarettes and other tobacco products directly to the public or trade
  • transload cigarettes and other tobacco products from one vehicle to another

You can register for this licence through the UK ID issuer website.

4. A Pavement or Street Display Licence

As a supermarket, convenience store or corner shop, it is very likely that you will need an A-board to share products and sales, increasing your footfall. However, issues may arise with placing things like furniture or A-boards outside to advertise, and if you don’t have the correct licensing, your business could pay the price.

Pavement or Street Display Licences are necessary for any shop that displays furniture or an A-board and any type of advertising on the street. Businesses that put up an advertising display or sign on the pavement or road can be fined up to £2500, with an extra £250 charged for each day the display or sign remains there.

Pavement or Street Display Licences usually last for 6 months, at which point you will need to apply for a new one. To apply for this licence, contact your local council.

Please be aware that this area of the law varies depending on your local authority and region, so having an expert like John Gaunt and Partners on hand to offer advice is the best way to make sure you’re getting the most from your licence while avoiding any hefty fines.

5. Music Licence

If you wish to play music in your supermarket, convenience store or corner shop, recorded or otherwise, you will need to acquire a music licence. This licence allows you to play music through the radio, television, live performances, and other digital devices and software, like Spotify.

To get your Music Licence, apply through the PPL PRS website today.

Talk to us about your Licensing needs today

6. Registering your business

Register with Companies House as soon as possible. This marks you out as a legal business, and is something that all businesses must do before they start trading.

If you plan to run your Supermarket or Corner Shop as a Sole Trader, be sure to register your business with HMRC first.

How much for Supermarket and Corner Shop Licences?

This figure varies greatly depending on what your supermarket or corner shop offers, for instance an on-site cafe, or outdoor advertising.

Personal Licence Cost 

Personal Licences cost £37 to apply for but consider also that you will need to complete a DBS check. DBS checks cost £36 + VAT each.

You should also consider the costs of getting your DPS their APLH qualification too. If you receive your APLH directly through John Gaunt and Partners, it will only cost you £120 per person. These elearning courses are straightforward to use, with online examination dates provided by us.

When it comes to your Personal Licence, we also have a ‘one-stop-shop’ option. This combines the APLH training with filling out the Personal Licence application with the help of our team. While a more expensive choice, this option streamlines the process, while our experience in licensing will help you get the most from your Personal Licence.

There is also an SCPLH combined 'one-stop-shop' option available for those looking to rapidly acquire a Personal Licence in Scotland.

Premises Licence Cost

The price of your Premises Licence depends largely on the fee band of your business, and as such application fees payable to the local authority can range between £100 and £635. If your business is ‘Wet Lead’ (where 50% of your income comes from on-sale drinks), you may be subject to a multiplier

You should also take into account that you must advertise your application in the local press and at the premises itself. Get in touch with John Gaunt and Partners when looking to do this. Our agent can help you secure discounts in advertising with the press, and our team of expert advisors can help you understand the overall costs of your Premises Licence.

Pavement or Street Display Licence Cost

The Local Authority charge for your Pavement or Street Display Licence could cost around £400, depending upon your location.

Currently application fees for this licence are capped at £100.

Food Premises Licence Approval Cost

There is no application fee for a Food Premises Licence, but you should apply for one, if required, as soon as possible, to avoid any fines.

What insurances do I need to run a Supermarket or Corner Shop? 

Supermarkets and corner shops can see hundreds of customers every day. With this in mind, it is vital that you build a portfolio of insurances to keep you covered in the event of anything going wrong.

Public Liability Insurance for your Supermarket or Corner Shop:

Public Liability Insurance should be one of the first insurances you look into. If a member of the public has an accident while on your premises, this insurance will protect you. It covers both injury and illness to the public.

Public Liability Insurance is one of the most important insurances to have for a supermarket or corner shop. It keeps you protected in the event of an accident befalling a member of the public, covering both injury and illness that may have been caused through your premises.

Employer's Liability Insurance:

As a supermarket or corner shop owner, it is very likely that you will need to hire employees to aid in the running of your business. It is a legal requirement that you obtain Employer's Liability Insurance from the moment you hire your first employee.

This insurance is designed to protect you in the event that a member of your staff is injured or falls ill on your premises.

Deterioration of Stock Insurance:

Every supermarket and almost every corner shop will have a selection of foods that need to be refrigerated or frozen. Deterioration of Stock Insurance is there to provide relief if your fridge or freezer has a malfunction, and as a result your stock deteriorates to the point that it cannot be sold. In the event that this happens, your stock and the repairs to your appliances should be covered by this insurance.

Buildings Insurance:

This insurance is a legal requirement if you own the building that your supermarket or corner shop operates from. It protects you in the event that anything should happen to your building that may need repairs.

Business Interruption Insurance:

Life is full of twists and turns, and Business Interruption Insurance is available to help them. This insurance covers you if something interrupts your business to the extent that it can no longer function. When you claim, you should recover the amount needed to bring you back to the financial position you were in before the interruption.

Theft of Takings Insurance:

This is vital insurance for any supermarket or corner shop owner, protecting you in the event that products are stolen from the premises.

There are a lot of insurances to take into consideration when opening up any business. If you need to understand which insurances are right for you, get in touch with the John Gaunt & Partners team today.

Do you require further advice on acquiring your Supermarket or Corner Shop licences?

There are a lot of things to consider when starting your own supermarket or corner shop business, from registering, to red tape, to import controls.

At John Gaunt & Partners, we specialise in helping businesses get the best possible licences to operate effectively. We have a wealth of expertise built from years of experience, all to help you make the most of your business. So get in touch today, and see how John Gaunt & Partners can help you.

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