Asda and other retailers accused the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill of “moving the goalposts” by pinpointing cheap drink in shops while making his first public pronouncement on new alcohol laws since they were introduced last week.

An Asda spokesman said Mr MacAskill’s plans were a “recipe for chaos”. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association claimed he was “making a mockery of the legal process at the expense of Scottish consumers and businesses”.

Mr MacAskill’s plans would mean the end of promotions such as three bottles of wine for the price of two and prevent excessive discounts on packs of beer and bulk buying.

A legal challenge is expected to be mounted against the first licensing board which tries to enforce the new interpretation of the guidelines, according to a spokesman for the Scottish Retail Consortium.

The Asda spokesman said: “This legislation was passed almost four years ago and the government’s own guidance states it should not apply to the off trade. To try to move the goalposts now that the legislation is in force is a recipe for chaos.

“The Scottish Parliament has called for a full debate as part of the forthcoming alcohol bill. That is the right way to proceed and not through a piecemeal approach that will merely increase costs and cause confusion.”

The row broke out after a speech by Mr MacAskill to drinks manufacturers and retailers at an Alcohol Focus conference in Aviemore in which he said “if a buy one get one free is wrong in the pub, then it’s wrong in the supermarket” and also dismissed objections to minimum pricing.

Councillor Stephen Dornan, chair of Glasgow Licensing Board, said: “It’s all very well Mr MacAskill talking about the spirit of the law but if it’s not written down in legislation then we don’t have the powers at our disposal.”

However, the SNP’s Michael Matheson said it was time “to address the problem of deep discounts in supermarkets”.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill