James Bielby at FWD conference

Wholesale fears over National Living Wage

FWD conference highlights vast majority of members concerned about National Living Wage increase

A massive 79% of FWD members admit they are concerned about next year’s increase to the National Living Wage. And with 60,000 people employed in the sector, it is easy to see why the legislation is going to have such a massive impact.

These figures and fears were flagged up by FWD Chief Executive James Bielby as part of his introduction to this year’s conference which took place on 28 June at St George’s Park, Burton On Trent.

Other items of legislation were also touched on including how the FWD has worked with a variety of government departments to help tackle issues ranging from food waste and single-use coffee cups to the sugar tax and child obesity.

Bestway’s Martin Race, one of the panellists at the industry event, also had a message for the Government, urging them to follow the lead of the Scottish Parliament when it came to minimum prices for alcohol. He explained that the law had worked north of the border and should be rolled out in England to level the playing field and directly benefit independent retailers competing against the multiples.

Fellow panellist John Mills, of Landmark Wholesale, said government should look at changing consumer behaviour through education rather than through taxation which was akin to putting a sticking plaster on a leaking hose and just forcing the problem elsewhere.

Economist Kay Neufeld, from CEBR who has worked for a number of top clients including Aldi and Asda, turned the focus on the economy and the impact of Brexit. He explained that consumers were no longer driving growth but that he expected to see an employment boom. He warned that consumer confidence had not improved since the start of the year and that their lack of confidence would probably see shoppers keeping their cash in their pockets rather than spend it in the high street, a thread highlighted by data showing how the retail sales growth had resulted in a number of stores closing their doors. His forecast following on from Brexit was cautionary with staffing issues and increased costs due to impending legislation.

Alcohol economy FWD legislation National Living Wage sugar wholesale