Commenting on the closure of Debenhams stores and the loss of its workforce following the sale of the brand and website, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Just as you think things can’t any worse for our high streets, we then have confirmation that four out their five stores in Northern Ireland are to close and majority of their staff are to lose their jobs following the Boohoo deal”

Commenting on the decision of the Executive to extend lockdown, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“This decision is not unexpected but will come at a heavy cost to the local economy. There will be many independent retailers who will be unable to survive this, particularly if it lasts until Easter”

Retail NI has announced a very significant boost to its membership with S&W Wholesale and over 90 independently owned Today’s NI Stores joining the business group’s increasing membership.

S&W is one of the Top 100 NI Businesses and one of the largest leading independent wholesalers in Ireland. It was established in 1916 and now has 250 employees. S & W is based in Newry with over a 100,000 Sq. Ft Warehouse covering ambient, chilled, fresh & frozen products, delivering to all of Ireland.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

Commenting on the draft Executive Budget published today by the Finance Minister, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Retail NI welcomes the priorities in this Budget to support our economy, such investing in infrastructure, City Deals and further rate relief. This budget is the first step on a roadmap to recovery”

“We have been strongly lobbying for further rate relief and are pleased to see Minister Murphy has included proposals to freeze business rates and for £150m of or rates relief for struggling businesses”

At a roundtable meeting today with the First and deputy First Ministers, Retail NI outlined a five-point plan to support the retail sector and combat the pandemic.

Retail NI’s 5 Point Plan:

Reacting to yesterday’s comments in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock that frontline shopworkers should be a priority for vaccination, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Retail NI fully supports Matt Hancock’s comments that frontline shopworkers should be a priority for vaccination and would urge the NI Executive to actively consider this”

Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement of £4.9bn business support grant, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“This is a welcome move by the Chancellor, and we hope that our Executive will work night and day to get these grants paid out to independent retailers and other high streets businesses”

Retail NI has called upon the Executive to allow independent retailers to operate a click and collect service. Its call comes as large supermarkets continue to sell clothes, books and toys over the post-Christmas and New Year period while independent retailers remain closed.

The business group has also asked the Executive to extend the Financial Support Scheme to essential independent retailers who can remain open but who have lost trade and footfall as a result of the majority of the businesses being closed in town and city centres.

Responding to Lockdown 3, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“It is profoundly disappointing that the Executive has had to take this course of action because of the non-compliance of individuals and households with the Covid-19 regulations. This non-compliance has not only driven up transmission of the virus, but has now effectively shut down our economy”

“Make no mistake - this third lockdown will result in a tsunami of independent retailers falling and thousands more jobs being lost with permanent damage done to our local high streets”

As non-essential retail and a large part of the hospitality sector reopens today, Retail NI has urged consumers to shop safe and be respectful to retail workers.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“As our retail sector fully reopens today, we once again would urge consumers to shop safe and ensure they comply with the Executive’s regulations. Retail NI has republished its five-point plan for safe and responsible shopping for these vital Christmas shopping weeks”