The Scottish Grocer’ Federation continues to take important steps forward in having the retailers voice heard at both Westminster and Holyrood. Wednesday 22nd June saw a meeting between SGF and Lord Andrew Dunlop, the undersecretary of state for Scotland. The meeting – which took place at No 10 Downing Street – was a follow-up to Lord Dunlop’s keynote address at the SGF ‘Success in Scotland’ summit in March.
A key topic for discussion was the increasing involvement of companies like Amazon in providing on-line grocery shopping. SGF are concerned that these companies often receive tax advantages which could give them a competitive edge and put more pressure on independent retailers in an already hyper-competitive UK grocery retail market. Lord Dunlop instructed his officials to send SGF a paper outlining the steps the UK government are currently taking to ensure a level playing field on tax. The Scotland Office would welcome any comments from SGF on the effective of these measures and how they could be enhanced. Overall officials are keen to look more closely at a range of issues impacting on retailers.
The under-secretary of state also stressed that the UK government increasingly sees the importance of the independent convenience store sector and that the Scotland Office is committed to strengthening its relations with SGF and its retail members. Scotland Office officials are working with the Cabinet Office to secure the attendance of a Cabinet Minister at SGF’s annual conference.
SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said,
“we are determined to strengthen our relationships with the UK government – there are still key reserved issues which impact on business in Scotland. We have been very encouraged by the commitment Lord Dunlop and the Scotland Office have made to working constructively with the Federation”.
Meanwhile at Hoyrood SGF is making another push to establish a cross party group in the Scottish Parliament. Supported by Gordon MacDonald MSP, the group would bring retail issues directly into the Scottish Parliament. MSPs are currently being canvassed to gauge the level of cross party support for the group. It is hoped that the first meeting of the group will take place in September.