Scottish government launches new group to help retail sector

0
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (File Photo by Andy Buchanan/Getty Images)

The Scottish government has established a new group to help the retail sector as it recovers from the pandemic.

At its first meeting, the Retail Industry Leadership Group (RILG) has discussed soaring energy costs and the impact of Brexit.

The group also considered how to deliver the Scottish government’s Retail Strategy and began drafting priorities to help businesses grow. Establishing an industry leadership group was a key action in the Retail Strategy launched in March.

Co-chaired by the Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth Tom Arthur and the Chief Operating Officer of the John Lewis Partnership, Andrew Murphy, the group comprises senior business representatives, trades unions and industry groups.

“This first meeting of the Retail Industry Leadership Group was timely given the cost crisis we are facing and allowed us to learn more about the impact on retail businesses, staff and customers. Implementing the Retail Strategy can help the sector seize opportunities, deal with longer term trends, and recover from immediate challenges,” Arthur said.

“There is no single solution to helping retailers so, as we approach a challenging winter, it is essential the response from government at every level happens at speed, to address the nature and magnitude of the emergency. We support calls from businesses for measures related to energy prices, VAT reduction, staff shortages and handling business loans – direct support which falls within the reserved responsibilities of the UK Government.”

Murphy added: “I was encouraged by the positive and collaborative nature of our discussion. Given the scale and nature of the collective challenges we are all facing, this is both timely and vital.

“There was a shared concern around the impact inflation is having on suppliers, employees, customers and our communities through the current cost of living crisis. It is clear that both retailers and the Scottish Government continue to work hard to find ways to provide more support where they can.

“I’m excited by the evident enthusiasm of the Leadership Group to drive forward the implementation of the Retail Strategy. Fair Work, the skills agenda and the importance of retail in delivering high quality town and city centres are uppermost in our minds as we look ahead to the next few months.”

The group will work with the Scottish government to help the retail sector meet current and longer term challenges while becoming stronger and more resilient.

It will also focus on encouraging retail businesses to demonstrate their commitment to Fair Work principles; harnessing opportunities in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation that will directly support the retail sector; making the sector responsive to changing consumer behaviours; overseeing development of a Skills Audit and Action Plan; and developing a Just Transition Plan to guide retail towards Net Zero.