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bira joins Small Business Minister at retail roundtable

Margot James hosted a retail roundtable last week with the UK’s top retail companies to discuss future opportunities. Alan Hawkins, bira CEO was there to represent the voice of the independent retailer.

Small Business Minister Margot James chaired a roundtable on the 2 November 2016 with some of the country’s top retailers to discuss their priorities and listen to their views on the challenges and opportunities they are now presented with.

The minister was joined by Jane Ellison, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and the High Streets Minister Andrew Percy. They met with senior representatives from some of the UK’s largest retailers including Asda, IKEA, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Boots. bira was present to ensure that the interests of our members were put forward.

As well as gathering feedback from the sector, other topics discussed included:

  • the future of the retail sector
  • future opportunities
  • Brexit, including opportunities, employment issues and supply chain concerns

Following the meeting, Business Minister Margot James said:

“I am delighted to host a meeting of the country’s top retailers to discuss how we can all work together to build on success and seize new opportunities. Retailers play a key role in our economy and I welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can work together to shape the future of retail in the UK.”

After the meeting Alan Hawkins, bira CEO commented:

“It was important for me to attend this roundtable. Independent retailers make up more than 65% of UK retail outlets by number. On behalf of our members, I declared more support was needed for independent retailers to benefit from online sales and that small shops want a level playing field in terms of property rates. We also want to see more considered timeframes for incoming new legislation and taxes across government departments. 2017 is going to be a challenging year for retail because of the economic climate alone and increasing prices, but we’ve also got increased costs in the form of property rates increases (for some) and increased people costs in the living wage and pensions for smaller retailers as well as the Apprenticeship Levy for larger retailers. No retailer can simply absorb all these costs, something must give. bira is working hard to ensure the real impact of these moves are recognised by Government and campaigning for real change, particularly in respect of the woefully outdated rating system. Radical change is required; tinkering at the edges is simply not enough.”

A full list of participants

  • Aldi
  • Asda
  • ASOS
  • British Independent Retailers Association
  • British Retail Consortium
  • Co-op Retail
  • GFirst LEP
  • Iceland
  • IKEA
  • John Lewis
  • Kingfisher
  • Lloyds Pharmacy
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Morrisons
  • National Federation of Retail Newsagents
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Spar
  • Hutchison Whampoa Europe Limited
  • Tesco
  • Walgreens Boots Alliance