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Trade NI, the Alliance of Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing NI and Retail NI has warned the NI Executive to avoid a lockdown scenario, saying that it will cripple Northern Ireland’s economy and potentially set it back decades.

The group makes up the three biggest sectors of industry and the majority of businesses in Northern Ireland, employing around 300,000 people collectively. 

In a joint statement the Chief Executives of the Trade NI group - Stephen Kelly (Manufacturing NI), Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster) and Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) commented:

Commenting on the speculation of a second lockdown, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“The Executive is walking a tightrope of reducing the transmission of the virus along with keeping the economy going. However, a second lockdown would result in economic devastation off the scale, resulting in thousands of jobs being lost and businesses collapsing as well as a huge impact on the mental and physical health of our community”

Commenting on the Chancellor’s statement of the expansion of the Job Support Scheme, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Hopefully, this will give some reassurance to businesses that face likely closure if the Executive moves to a second lockdown. The Chancellor also announced an increase in funding for the Executive to provide further support and we will be engaging with Ministers next week on the detail of this”

Commenting on the new Face Covering regulations, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Many Retail NI members’ staff have already been wearing face coverings for some time and we will work to ensure there is full compliance following the decision of the Executive”

Commenting on the restrictions on Derry and Strabane, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“These are tough, but sadly necessary restrictions which will hugely impact Derry city centre and Strabane town centre”

“While local retailers in the area will be able to remain open, they will lose vital trade from outside the Council area, given the travel restrictions”

“It is absolutely vital that the Executive urgently brings forward a support package for impacted businesses in Derry and Strabane”

 

Commenting on today’s Winter Economy Plan statement by the Chancellor, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“This is an unprecedented and welcome intervention in the labour market at a critical time for our economy. The Chancellor has adopted the right approach in targeting support to those businesses and employees who continue to struggle with this pandemic”

‘With many independent retailers facing huge difficulties the Job Support Scheme and other measures in this statement will give them greater certainty for the next six months”

Retail NI has warned that 300 jobs are at risk from local businesses on the Buncrana Road in Derry/Londonderry unless changes are made to the proposed redevelopment plan to facilitate customers getting access to local small retailers and businesses. Traders fear current upgrade plans to the road will restrict passing trade to local businesses.

To avoid this, Retail NI submitted a number of changes to the redevelopment plan - all of which were rejected by Department for Infrastructure officials.

Welcoming the two new Covid-19 support schemes, announced by the Economy Minister to assist high growth SMEs and help retailers to grow online sales, Retail NI Chief

Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Both schemes are welcome, and we would encourage applicable businesses to apply”

“There is no doubt that Covid-19 has hugely accelerated the demand for online sales and it is now essential that every retailer needs to sell or market their products online”

Commenting on Belfast Chamber’s survey which shows only 5% of office staff have returned to their workplaces, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“It is absolutely vital that the Executive now works with business on a strategy for the safe return of office workers to their place of work. This is crucial, not just for Belfast, but for the economic future of all our major towns and cities in Northern Ireland”

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