Picture: Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran T.D (pictured centre) meeting NFRN officials at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone on 2 April 2019
The NFRN, which represents independent retailers in both Ireland and the UK, has been campaigning for a small business ombudsman for many years. These calls have come a step closer to fruition with Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran T.D. advising that his bill to create an ombudsman for independent retailers was imminent when he spoke at a Federation meeting at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone last week (Tuesday, 2 April 2019).
Welcoming Minister Moran’s announcement, NFRN president Martin Mulligan stated: “Small businesses are critical to the Irish economy but with shrinking margins and rising costs we need help if we are to survive.”
The NFRN has been calling for an ombudsman against the backdrop of challenging times for independent retailers and in a period of heightened regulation and declining margins. NFRN members face ever increasing payroll costs, higher utility bills, punitive bank charges and rising insurance premiums. It is vitally important that small businesses have an avenue of appeal when new legislation and regulation becomes overly burdensome, unfair and damaging.
The appointment of an ombudsman to act as a community champion for Ireland’s smallest businesses and to shine a spotlight on their current plights will restore confidence among SMEs, bringing investment and innovation that will benefit not just retailers but consumers and the communities that they serve.
The NFRN hopes that as part of her or his remit, the ombudsman will look into the carriage charge that news retailers pay to news wholesalers and distributors in order to be supplied with newspapers and magazines. These carriage charges increase annually and NFRN members say they are making the newspaper and magazine category unsustainable.