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The president of The Fed in Ireland has accused the government of leaving independent retailers high and dry in the wake of huge increases in costs.

In a letter to the minister for environment, climate and communications Eamon Ryan, Martin Mulligan, owner of Mulligan’s Londis in Athlone, Co Westmeath, says the recent hike in utility prices, coupled with increases in the minimum wage and associated employer’s contributions are having a devastating effect on smaller businesses.

He said: “In December, I got my monthly electricity bill and it was more than double the average of €3,000. Taking into account that I am working reduced hours and not operating my deli or using the ice cream machine, I thought it must be a mistake.

“I contacted the provider and was told that my contract expired at the end of November. They would not renew it at the old rate and therefore were charging the maximum rate, which came to more than €6,000. If people fall out of contract, they are going to experience the same difficulties.”

Mr Mulligan said despite repeated calls for the government to step in and help independent businesses, nothing has been done.

He added: “We have no voice. It’s not as though they are not aware of our problems, but they just take no notice. We are not being listened to and they are not taking our concerns into consideration.”

Mr Mulligan said other factors were adding to the financial burden on independent retailers.

He said: “Wholesalers are putting their prices up and at the same time are dropping our recommended retail margins. The minimum wage increase has come into effect and the cost of doing business is rising all the time.

“Covid may be on the way out, but there are worse problems ahead for the independent retailer.”

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