James highlights ACS role as lobbyist for community stores at IGD event

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Jonathan James, ACS chairman, emphasised the role of the Association in lobbying government, providing advice and networking opportunities at the IGD’s Convenience Retailing 2012 event.

According to James, the ACS is interacting with government departments at all times.

“The industry needs a voice,” he said. “The biggest burden on our business is red tape.”

James said effective lobbying on the tobacco display ban, for instance, had reduced the number of flaps on gantries from nine to two doors, improving operational issues for stores. 

The ACS is also lobbying on planning laws and championing community retailers, said James.

James said the ACS had been quick to respond and feedback on the impact of the relaxation of Sunday Trading laws during the summer Olympics, for example.

According to James, business in his Cambridgeshire stores picks up significantly after 4pm on Sundays, when the supermarkets close.

“One of my sites lost just under 20% of trade on Sunday,” he revealed. “It can make the difference between being a viable shop and non viable.” 

James said a key ACS focus for 2012 was growing its evidence base with hard facts.

“The sector needs a lobby group and the ACS is doing that job brilliantly,” he said.

“Now it’s about coming up with hard and fast evidence to hit ministers with.”

Its ACS retailer survey, based on interviews with 200 retailers, is a state of the industry report and represents the voice of local shops, he said. 

The ACS’s Local Shop report, meanwhile, provides insight into the importance of local shops. 

James revealed a new Community Barometer is in the pipeline, giving feedback on the community.