Ireland’s employment and retail minister urged to support independent retailers
Independent retailers express concerns over the proposed deposit return scheme and the cost of living crisis.
10 May 2023
Leaders of the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) have written to Neale Richmond to voice their concerns over the proposed deposit return scheme and the cost-of-living crisis.
The Fed’s national president Jason Birks and Ireland president Martin Mulligan co-signed the letter to the recently appointed Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Business.
Fed members are independent retailers who work primarily in the forecourt, news, and convenience sector.
The letter said: “As a federation, we have been a strong supporter of the deposit return scheme in Scotland and hope to continue this support as DRS rolls out in Ireland.
“As retailers will be at the forefront of the scheme as return point operators, we hope to engage with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and Re-turn to assist the ease of transition into the scheme.
“DRS is to be an important part of the economy, but it is essential that independent retailers are provided a seat at the table for this discussion to allow for a balanced view from all sectors of the trade, both independent and multinational.
“Unfortunately, independent retailers are often overlooked during such discussions, and we feel we can make a valuable contribution to the discussion and provide suggested solutions to issues.”
The letter also outlined the Fed’s concerns regarding the financial difficulties many of its members are facing at present.
Current figures show that surges in energy prices, mortgage rates, food prices, business rates and insurance are having a detrimental impact on smaller retailers, leaving their future very uncertain.
The letter continued: “Our members are heartened that the cost of doing business has gained prevalence in the political agenda. However, it is simply not enough. There is still a significant amount of work to be done so that retailers will have support from the government to manage soaring energy bills.
“The current cost of living is a terrifying prospect for businesses that simply will not be able to continue if prices continue to rise. The Fed has members paying upwards of €40,000 per month on energy – this is not sustainable.
“Independent retailers are essential to many local economies and need to be supported during these difficult times.
“Our members’ stores are the hearts of their communities and provide much more than the provision of goods. They regularly host events that bring their communities together and their stores are a safe space for many people to come to for support.
“The loss of these would simply be regrettable and would leave a gap at the heart of many communities.
“We would welcome a response as to how the government’s current agenda aims to support small independent businesses during this crisis, and the opportunity to be a voice on the Retail Forum to represent independent businesses in discussions surrounding retail.”