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The Impact of Responsible Retailing

The Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) has welcomed newly published statistics from a key Scottish government report which show that it is now much less common for school pupils to buy alcohol directly from local shops.

 The data is part of the Scottish Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) and shows that since 2002 the number of 15-year old pupils buying alcohol from a shop fell from 18% to 6%. However, the report also highlighted that the most common sources of alcohol are now from the home, relatives and friends. SGF head of public affairs Dr John Lee commented,

“This marked decline in purchases from shops is very encouraging and clearly shows that retailers have been extremely successful in implementing Challenge 25. It also clearly shows how seriously our members take responsible community retailing and their compliance obligations. Our focus now has to be on supporting retailers and our communities in dealing with more complex issues such as proxy purchase.”

As part of the Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership SGF has recently been involved in highly successful proxy purchase campaigns in Edinburgh and North Lanarkshire.

 

SALSUS is a biennial survey, complied on behalf of the Scottish government, and is based on responses from 25,304 pupils across 264 secondary schools in both the state and independent sector.

SGF Broadcasts on The Voice

Scottish Grocers Federation has boosted its efforts to engage with retailers from across Scotland’s diverse communities.

Chief Executive Pete Cheema and past-President Abdul Majid took part (24th October) in a live 2-hour radio phone in on the Glasgow-based Awaz FM. The guests took calls from listeners in both Punjabi and English and touched on a broad range of issues impacting on retailers including National Living Wage, bank charges and commission rates. Awaz translates as ‘the voice’ in English.

Awaz FM is a Community Radio Station set up in 1997 to serve the Asian and African population in Glasgow, broadcasting in English, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Paharhi and Swahili, delivering entertainment, news local, national and community information. It also covers issues of a multi-faith basis including Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam.

Pete Cheema commented,

“We need to find new ways to reach out to retailers in every community in Scotland and we are more than happy to explore innovative ways of doing this. We are developing a very broad range of approaches to communications and information technology and this new venture with Awaz FM has real possibilities.”

 

Initial feedback to the programme has been extremely positive and discussions are underway to develop it into a regular feature.

Take Retailers Out of Business Rates

The Scottish Grocers Federation has called for more small businesses – including convenience store retailers – to be completely taken out of the Business Rates system in Scotland.

In its submission to the Barclay Review Group, the body established by the Scottish government to reform the business rates system, SGF argued that such a move would be fairer and would make the system less complex, more efficient and more cost effective.

Such a move would make more frequent valuations easier, lead to fewer appeals and reduce the overall work load of the Scottish Assessors. The Federation is also calling for annual revaluations to ensure that rateable values maintain a close relationship to market conditions.

In line with the ‘market approach’ favoured by SGF, occupier improvements should be excluded from any revaluations. This would encourage investment and avoid an unfair tax burden being applied to any retailer who had upgraded and refitted their store. SGF Chief Executive Pete Cheema commented,

 

“We know from the new Scottish Local Shop Report that in 2015 there were 3,000 jobs lost in the convenience store sector and store numbers fell by almost 300 - this is the first time we have seen reductions like this since 2012. We are now seeing the cumulative impact of constantly increasing business costs. We need to reduce the rates burden on retailers and taking as many of them out of the system as possible is the best way to do this.”

Parliament Breakthrough For C-Stores

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has hailed a major breakthrough in its political engagement work. Holyrood has given its backing to a proposal from SGF and MSP Gordon MacDonald to establish a Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group (CPG) on Independent Convenience Stores.

For the past 12 months SGF has been working closely with Mr MacDonald - the SNP MSP for the Edinburgh Pentlands constituency – to get the Group up and running. In a major step forward, the CPG held its inaugural meeting last in Parliament in September. The meeting itself was extremely successful both in terms of SGF stakeholders who attended and in terms of support from MSPs. Support from at least three MSPs is required for CPGs to be approved but in fact eleven MSPs registered to become members of the Group: a genuinely impressive level of commitment from MSPs

Despite this the Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament required that the CPG had to be officially approved by Parliament itself. However, recognising the success of the inaugural meeting, The Scottish Parliament Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee has now fully endorsed and approved the establishment of the Cross Party Group on Independent Convenience Stores. Gordon MacDonald MSP was appointed Convenor with John Lee, Head of Public Affairs at SGF being appointed to the Group Secretariat.

Gordon MacDonald MSP commented,

“Convenience stores are the corner stones of our communities. Scotland has more convenience stores per had of population than any other part of the UK and these stores provide over 41,000 jobs – it’s time this important sector in the Scottish economy got the recognition it deserves.”

This is the first time a retail-focused group has been set up within the Scottish Parliament, it will provide a unique platform for MSPs to engage with retailers and stakeholders from across the supply chain on the key issues affecting the retail industry in Scotland. The CPG will now push forward with its next meeting, to be held in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd November.

 

 

 

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