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‘New Deal’ for business in Scotland is a good start, say independent retailers

The Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) has welcomed the recommendations announced by the New Deal for Business Group in Scotland, but says actions speak louder than words.

The Fed’s vice president and store owner from Blantyre, Glasgow, Shahid Razzaq, said: “Business rates are of huge importance to members and hopefully we can now have a dialogue about this and also on several other matters affecting smaller independent retailers.

“The shelving of the Scottish Government’s high profile schemes for alcohol promotion and deposit return indicates how well-meaning initiatives can go very wrong if business is not properly consulted.

“We welcome the New Deal for Business Group’s proposal to speak to businesses at a much earlier stage and to scrutinise data, costs and other practical information when drawing up policies.

“As regards business rates, we are extremely concerned that, for retail, there is lower relief in Scotland than in England.

“Consideration of security grants for retailers – acknowledging the pressures of crime and rising costs – would be one clear sign that the Scottish Government is beginning to understand the challenges for small independent businesses.

“This ‘New Deal’ document on working with business is a good start, but our focus will be on seeing real action by the Scottish Government.”

The Fed’s Scottish president Hussan Lal added: “Having read the report, I believe in the first instance they need to actively engage with retailers, particularly the small independents, to gain an understanding of the business rates issue and to make it a fair playing field.

“Other concerns that need to be addressed are retailers being forced into long-term energy contracts and the case for financial assistance to improve CCTV in shops to help combat growing retail crime.”

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