As another year draws to a close, it’s a time to look back on past NFRN activity and I hope you agree that in many areas good progress is being achieved.
On the political front we continue to take large strides in getting the issue of retail crime higher up the government’s agenda. In recent weeks, besides being name checked in debates from the floor of the House of Commons, we heard the leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, promise to arrange for a debate on both retail crime and poor police response times.
Independent retailers everywhere deserve to feel safe in our stores so it was heartening to hear Mrs Leadsom agree that high streets need as much support as possible, including protection from crime.
She also called for retailers to report all crime incidents to enable the police to gather the necessary intelligence. I couldn’t agree more and repeat my previous calls to never suffer in silence but to always report such instances, so the true and, sadly, shocking extent of retail crime can be recognised.
At a recent reception that I attended at New Scotland Yard the Metropolitan police’s deputy police commissioner Sir Craig Mackey even admitted that shop workers and owners faced more abuse than his officers. Slowly but surely, our message is getting through.
More good news came from the autumn budget, with the chancellor announcing some much-needed reductions in business rates and renewed support for high streets. We have been calling for both actions for some time, so, again, it appears that the government is listening to the concerns of our members.
Another positive was the Court of Appeal ruling that retailers will no longer have to pay separate business rates for cash machines located either inside or outside their shops. With refunds and lower business rates to follow, for hard pressed independent retailers this announcement was definitely a breath of fresh air.
Meanwhile, meetings with publishers and news wholesalers have been held where your news supply chain concerns are laid bare. At one of these meetings with Smiths News, the news wholesaler shared statistics showing that in the news and magazine categories and between July to September this year NFRN members were trading 7 per cent above the rest of the independent sector, as well as enjoying better availability and earlier delivery times. You can read more on page 5 in this month’s edition of The Fed.
From all of the above, I hope you agree that it has been a busy but positive time for the NFRN. For the remaining six months of my presidential year my focus will remain on you, the member, and helping you to trade even more successfully and profitably.
For now, may I wish you all a successful period of trading, together with a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.
NFRN National President