Posted: Sun 21st May 2023

Welsh Government unveils action plan to reinforce retail sector

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, May 21st, 2023

In a bid to create a more resilient retail sector, the Welsh Government and the Wales Retail Forum have unveiled an ambitious Retail Sector Action Plan.

This wide-ranging plan, titled ‘Together for Retail: a Wales Retail Forum Action Plan,’ encompasses a host of measures aimed at fortifying the retail sector and its workforce.

The retail sector, which employs over 139,000 individuals, has long been one of the most substantial private sector employers in Wales.

Its reach extends deep into Welsh communities, making a substantial contribution to the vitality of local town centres and rural areas.

This plan seeks to bolster the resilience and prospects of this pivotal sector, amid a period of significant change and uncertainty.

Key initiatives outlined in the plan include the promotion of workforce equality, diversity and inclusion, advocating fair work principles such as the Real Living Wage, and encouraging retail businesses to transition towards net zero emissions.

It also emphasises the importance of local planning policies, skills assessment and training provision, and the creation of safer working environments.

Vaughan Gething, Minister for the Economy, launched the plan during a visit to Llandudno town centre last Friday.

He praised the sector’s critical role in providing vital services during the Covid-19 pandemic and acknowledged the current challenges it faces.

He said, “We remain committed to an ongoing conversation, through the Retail Forum, to shape our response to current and future challenges and opportunities.”

Delyn MS and Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn, highlighted the shared nature of the plan’s actions.

She said: “These actions are shared by all social partners in the Retail Forum and are a clear demonstration of the value of social partnership. We are grateful for the engagement and support of the Forum members and the commitment of all our partners to work collaboratively to deliver this Plan.

“The retail sector is a vital source of jobs and is key to our ambitions for a Wales of fair work. Most of us will know someone who works in retail and it’s important the sector delivers the fairness, dignity and respect that retail workers need and deserve.

“With the backing of the Wales Retail Forum and its business and trade union representatives, I am confident this Plan will help deliver positive changes.”

The Retail Action Plan also drew praise from several prominent voices in the retail sector.

Sara Jones from the Welsh Retail Consortium noted the industry’s resilience in overcoming the challenges of the past few years.

She said, “The Plan has clear purpose and intent and demonstrates a shared willingness from the sector and Government to work in partnership and give the industry the support it needs to thrive.”

Echoing these sentiments, James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, welcomed the plan’s recognition of the important role played by convenience stores in the Welsh economy and communities.

He also stressed the need for continued engagement to meet the unique challenges faced by local shops.

Overall, the ‘Together for Retail’ action plan represents a significant step towards a fairer and more resilient retail sector, driven by a collective commitment to improve prospects for businesses and employees alike.

Collective action outlined in the plan includes:

  • championing workforce equality; diversity and inclusion at all levels;
  • embedding fair work principles by promoting the Real Living Wage, the benefits of the Economic Contract and the role of trades unions;
  • promoting the benefits of careers in the sector;
  • assessing skills and training provision;
  • adopting the Town Centre First policy in planning;
  • reducing town centre vacant premises by supporting Local Authorities to match businesses to them or encourage community and other worthwhile use;
  • working collaboratively to promote town centre/high street events to increase footfall;
  • creating safer working environments;
  • encouraging the retail sector to move towards net zero.

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