New president plans a Scottish sweep to meet retailer members in local stores
REPRESENTATIVE organisation the Scottish Grocers Federation now defends the interests of and communicates vital information to businesses in the entire convenience channel supply chain, new SGF president Dennis Williams told the organisation’s annual conference in his first speech in the role.
The two-day conference, at the RBS HQ campus at Gogarburn in Edinburgh last month, featured presentations by senior SGF office bearers and executives on the work of the organisation. There were also presentations by several firms including PayPoint and Warburtons and contributions by retailers on the theme Thrive in an era of change.
On the second day of the conference, after taking on the post at a changeover ceremony with outgoing president Abdul Majid the evening before, Williams said he was hugely excited to be starting the job.
SGF is growing into a major player across the entire industry
From the beginning of November he would embark on a tour of Scotland to meet retailers in their shops. “I want to get into stores, meet retailers, tell them about the SGF and find out at first hand about their issues,” he said.
“We need to go where our members are and make them feel part of the SGF.
But the federation also included other stakeholders, he stressed.
“SGF is growing into a major player across the entire industry in Scotland.
“There are retail members, symbol group members – most of whom have wholesale as well as retail operations, and supplier members. We represent the entire supply chain, the only organisation in Scotland that does so.”
Rising costs are costing jobs and we have the figures to prove it
One of the major goals of SGF in recent times had been to develop a cross-party group of MSPs at the Scottish Parliament on independent convenience retailing.
And SGF head of policy and public affairs John Lee told conference that the goal had been achieved.
“It is genuinely historic,” he said. “For the first time we have a retail group within the Scottish Parliament that we can influence, where we can set the agenda. And we genuinely see this as a cross-industry platform. We want to bring together the retailers, wholesalers and suppliers.”
But what the group and the industry will get out of it depends on what is put in, he said.
“It needs a lot of work. But this is a genuine opportunity that we all need to grasp.”
SGF is also trying to sponsor a piece of legislation in the Scottish Parliament – attempting to give shopworkers the same legal protection as emergency workers.
“Currently we have to do this through a member’s bill,” said Lee.
With the help of Thompsons Solicitors SGF has drafted a bill and the necessary consultation document also.
“So we almost have a ready-made package. If we could get enough MSPs interested in this and we can identify someone who wants to take it forward then there’s a real chance this could go through.”
SGF chief executive Pete Cheema announced that for the second year SGF has produced a detailed Scottish Local Shop report, working with ACS, which also produces a British report.
“The report has been an absolute game changer for us,” he said. “At long last we have the words and the numbers to show how important our sector is.
The report highlights that Scotland’s 5324 convenience stores employ 42,000 people and contribute £532m, in gross value added, to the Scottish economy.
However the number of stores and employees had declined in the last year, he explained.
“Rising costs are costing jobs and we have the figures to prove it,” Cheema said.