By Daniel Hunter
Retailers, who make up around one in ten of all businesses in Wales, are being given a louder voice with the launch today (Thursday) of the Welsh Retail Consortium (WRC).
The WRC — a sister body to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) — will build on previous BRC activity in Wales. It is dedicated to enhancing the reputation of the retail sector while ensuring the Welsh Government and local authorities understand how they benefit from working with retailers to support investment and encourage growth.
Today also sees the launch of a new report, Welsh Retail: Serving Our Communities, which draws on research by Oxford Economics and the Oxford Institute of Retail Management to present key statistics about the retail sector.
Retail is the largest private sector employer in Wales. The sector accounts for more than 11 per cent of the total workforce, providing jobs for around 131,000 people. A large proportion of retail jobs are held by people who are 25 and under, an age group facing particular challenges finding work in the current economic climate.
"Retail is at the heart of communities across Wales, providing jobs for more than one in ten people who are in work. It's a sector which is always innovating and which has great capacity to grow — just what the country needs to establish a strong recovery," Welsh Retail Consortium Director Mark Ross said.
"We've been working with the Welsh Government for years under the umbrella of the British Retail Consortium but I'm delighted we can now bring that relationship into greater focus. The Welsh Government has more power than ever before to shape the business environment and to influence the Welsh economy. There are already positive signs that ministers are looking to work with the retail sector for the benefit of all rather than treating it as a cash cow to be milked through higher taxation — a mistake being made by the administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
"Retailers, national politicians and local councillors share many goals. We all want vibrant town centres where businesses can thrive and we support investment in Welsh agriculture to ensure the success of food supply chains. These are just two of the issues we look forward to discussing in the coming months as the Welsh Retail Consortium gets down to work."
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