Video & Pictures: NFRN launched the Independent Retail Report for Wales 2017

On 4th April the NFRN launched its Independent Retail Report for Wales 2017 during a reception at the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff.

On Tuesday 4th April, the NFRN launched its Independent Retail Report for Wales 2017 during a reception at the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff.

The event was sponsored by Nick Ramsay, Assembly Member for Monmouth. The report highlights the issues affecting independent retailers across Wales, from escalating retail crime and violent crime being reported, to business rates and town centre issues.

You can download the Independent Retail Report for Wales 2017 here

If you require any further information about the report please email publicaffairs@nfrn.org.uk

Watch Ray Monelle’s, Nick Ramsay’s & Mark Dudden’s speeches

Pictures of the event

Read Ray Monelle's Speech

National President Ray Monelle spoke at the launch of the NFRN’s Independent Retail Report for Wales 2017. You can read his full speech in full below.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
Good to see you here, and welcome to all those who attended

Just over a year ago we were lucky enough to hold a parliamentary reception here in the wonderful surroundings of the Welsh Assembly – on not quite such a beautiful day as we’ve got today! It’s beautiful, you couldn’t come to visit Cardiff Bay in a better atmosphere!

So it is lovely to come back for this opportunity to return and to address you today.

So as the National President of the NFRN and on behalf of our members, I would like to thank Nick Ramsay for hosting the launch of our 2017 Independent Retail Report for Wales.

Thanks, too, to all Assembly members and industry guests for taking time out of busy schedules to attend our reception.

Special thanks must go to Assembly Member Janet Finch-Saunders who was instrumental in organising this event but sadly cannot be here with us tonight.

Today is a hugely important occasion for independent retailers and we come with a very clear message.

We might be the lifeblood of our communities but our very survival is under threat.

Without a doubt the contribution that we make to our cities, towns and villages is immense.

  • We offer a wealth of products and services
  • We raise much-needed funds for deserving local charities and causes
  • We keep a watchful eye out for our more vulnerable and elderly customers. How many of us fill in forms for a lot of our customers? Hold keys? Even help them do their banking sometimes, because we are a community shop.
  • We give youngsters their first jobs, sometimes it is paper boy, sometimes it is Saturday staff, or working in the shop.

Independent retailers have existed for many hundreds of years but these days, and more than ever, we find ourselves under attack.

Our trading environment gets tougher, crimes against retailers are on the increase, our costs are rising and we face more legislation and red tape.
Crime is a big issue at the moment. Myself, being a small shop, have had 6 armed robberies, I’ve had burglaries, I’ve had all sorts.
Crime, for a small shop, with one person in the shop, is getting more and more difficult for us to manage.

Never has an independent retailer needed the NFRN more and never has an independent retailer needed the support of their Assembly members as they do now.

The many and varied challenges facing us are documented in the Independent Retail Report, so I won’t go through it page by page. I’ll leave you to read it at your leisure, if nothing else it will help you sleep well!

I now ask you to calmly study this NFRN report, it’s well put together with important facts and documents in there. So please study it at your leisure and see some of the problems that independent retailers in Wales are facing.

I would ask that you speak with the independent retailers here tonight in the Welsh Assembly to find out more about their concerns and the steps perhaps that you can take to alleviate them.

And I know that our members would be delighted to welcome you into their shops if you wanted to see hands on what happens in the shops and the type of customers we deal with. You can see firsthand what life is like behind the counter.

Having done all of these things I would be grateful if you could then consider what you can do to lend support.

Again, thank you for joining us here tonight.  I would now like to invite Nick Ramsay, our host, to say a few words.

Thank you, Nick.

Read Nick Ramsay's Speech

Thank you for that welcome Ray.

Almost 100 years on from the first unified conference of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents in 1919 – I’ve been researching in the limited time I had – it’s wonderful to host tonight’s reception to launch the Independent Retail Report Wales 2017.

As Ray said, Janet Finch-Saunders who hosted this event last year, sends her sincere apologies; she’s unable to be here tonight. So you’ve got me instead!

Janet told me that last year’s event was a massive success and she’s sure that tonight will be no different. Those of you who know Janet know that she’s a passionate supporter of retailer newsagents – as chair of the CPG on small shops she works hard to represent small businesses across Wales and in her constituency.

It’s heartening to see from the report that we’ve got in front of us that as well as Conwy, for most towns across Wales, independent retailers dominate the retail landscape.

I understand that the NFRN represents 1000 independent retailers in Wales and this report is a great way to highlight to assembly members and the Welsh government the issues that are facing the industry today.

Now a couple of issues from the report really stood out to me.

First of all, the need to boost our high streets. Sadly, we continue to see the highest vacancy rates in our town centres currently standing at 14.6%. 14 Welsh towns and cities have persistent vacancy rates of over 10%.

So what’s clear from looking at this report is that we need to work together and to localise local expertise to try and improve the situation.

And of course, in the news of the moment, we do need to look at ways to support businesses and improve business rates relief. This report welcomes the £10 million high street rates relief scheme from the Welsh government, but it notes as I do that more still needs to be done.

Finally, the issue that Ray mentioned and that sadly takes up a large chunk of this report – I think it featured in the meeting last year as well but it’s become even more of an issue since then – is that of retail crime. And the report highlights an increase in violent retail crime with the numbers of robberies per 100 stores having increased to 6%.

Now we’ve seen on the news several high-profile incidents over the past few months in 2017, including some where workers have actually been threatened in the middle of the day. And please see that this report highlights only around 34% of shop theft is actually reported to the police.

That is a really important statistics because that means that incident rates may well be considerably higher than those being reported.

We need to look at ways, at reasons why people are being deterred from reporting retail crimes – all manners from reporting mechanisms, slow prosecution rates, there’s a whole platter of things to look at.

So in conclusion from it, it’s essential for the welsh government to work with all interested parties, including the NFRN and the police on this matter, which is why I feel and Janet feels that this report is so important in highlighting this issue at this particular time.

It offers a number of suggestions for me and my colleagues to raise in the national assembly and in the cabinet secretary for economy and structure – and we will do that.

So many thanks to the public affair team for working so hard to compile this.

And now I believe I’m handing on to Mark Dudden.

Tweets about the event