The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium was founded in 2011. From a standing start we have become the voice of the industry to the public, to our government, to the media and to our partners across the supply chain in Northern Ireland. In this time of profound change for retail our mission statement of making a positive difference to the retail industry and the customers it serves has never been clearer or more relevant.
Retail is an exciting, diverse and dynamic industry, continuously adapting to transformational change as a result of changes in shopping habits, new technology, intense competition, falling shop prices and rising costs. Retail itself is also a changing industry. Retailers are the most directly customer-facing of all businesses, and as customer behaviour changes, so too do retailers.
We expect the future to hold accelerating change. Retailers will develop better propositions and compete harder across an increasing range of business models from modern multi-channel formats to discounters and pure online businesses. Recent policy announcements, in particular the National Living Wage, higher employer pension contributions and the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, will increase the pace of some of these changes.
Here are just a few examples of how our industry has made and continues to make a positive difference in Northern Ireland, and of some of the challenges we face.
- The retail industry remains one of Northern Ireland’s largest private sector employers, providing a living to around 70,000 people
- Thousands more jobs are created and sustained by the grocery sector's engagement with the agri-food supply chain in Northern Ireland, from farmers to processors,as well as in the wider retail sector including store fit-out firms and local suppliers
- One in every eight households includes someone who works in retail, many of them taking advantage of part-time and flexible working opportunities which enable them to combine work and parenting or caring responsibilities, studying or cutting back on working hours as they prepare for retirement
- Retail is one of the few industries in Northern Ireland that employs more women than men (a ratio of 55:45)
- The industry offers many real opportunities to acquire skills and progress in wide variety of roles including management, marketing, supply chain, logistics, property, finance and security
- Retailers invest on average £1440 in training for each employee every year.
- Our members have led the way in finding practical solutions to reduce the environmental and social impact of business in areas as diverse as carbon and greenhouse gas reduction, animal welfare, water use and waste reduction
- Our members have also led been at the forefront of the implementation of the Carrier Bag Levies, which have seen a drop of 70% in usage from the introduction of the legislation
- Our grocery and fast food members have been innovators on reformulation to reduce the sugar, salt and fat in products, and continue to lead in areas such as labelling and food safety
- As responsible retailers we have delivered on our promises in A Better Retailing Climate and agreed a new set of targets and commitments for 2020
- On food waste, we have worked closely with WRAP on the development of the Courtauld 2025 Commitment to reduce food waste by 20% over the next decade. This new commitment has been signed by the four UK governments and includes metrics on water and carbon as well as waste
- Having made huge strides in recent years in redistributing surplus food from depots, grocery retailers are now focusing on ways to overcome the logistical challenges around redistribution from their stores
- A number of new initiatives and pilots seeking to overcome these challenges have been announced in the past 12 months. These will form the building blocks of a strategy to increase the amount of surplus food that can be redistributed from stores
- Our members have raised over £15 million for charities, community and schools, and their staff have delivered over 55,000 hours of volunteering
- NIRC members in the past five years have bought over £7 billion of Northern Ireland agri-food. This provides indigenous NI producers with fantastic routes to market outside NI
- Some 1.8 million people conduct 9.8 million retail transactions each week in Northern Ireland
- The retail industry has paid almost £1 billion in rates and the Large Retailer Levy since 2011
- Since 2011, we have seen over 80 new regulations or regulation changes that have meant changes and added costs to how we do business
- The cumulative burden on retailers from the Living Wage, Apprenticeship Levy, new regulations, higher employer pension contributions and rises in taxation has made it more expensive for retailers to do business.