Significant investment in the retail and wholesale sectors is needed to help businesses embrace both the digital and sustainability transition, EuroCommerce director general Christel Delberghe has told the EU Industry Days event in Brussels.
At a session dedicated to the retail and wholesale ecosystem, Delberghe said that retailers and wholesalers are "still struggling" with a range of challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as restrictions and staff absences, inflation, labour shortage and supply chain disruption.
A Changing Ecosystem
This is taking place "at a time when the ecosystem is transforming significantly and rapidly with limited resources," she added. "This is why our sector requires a regulatory framework and other measures which can support this transformation. Despite being recognised as an essential ecosystem, we see national recovery plans providing little or no such support."
She added that EuroCommerce is looking forward to working with the European Commission on the creation of a transition pathway, co-creating a framework to support the industry's transition.
"The pandemic hit our ecosystem in different ways – some had to quickly adapt to surges in demand; others lost sales massively due to government restrictions; many are still in a critical situation," Delberghe added.
"Operating typically at very low margins – food retailers earn no more than 1% to 3% net –, the sector needs to invest to meet the challenges of digitalisation, sustainability and to equip its people to work in this new business environment."
Retail And Wholesale
Also appearing during the EU Industry Days session on retail and wholesale were Kristin Schreiber, Director DG GROW, Riikka Joukio of Kesko, Stephan Tromp from the German Retail Federation (HDE), Bertrand Tison of Decathlon and Else Groen of Independent Retail Europe, who discussed issues such as the digitalisation of SMEs, changing business models, making business operations more sustainable and the role of young people in the sector.
“Our sector provides a range of social and economic goods," Delberghe added, "as a major employer and stepping stone for young people to a rewarding career, as a driving force in sustainability and innovation and a keystone of local communities, and it serves multiple other ecosystems, the European economy, and not least, consumers. We need policy support in being able to continue this important role.”
EuroCommerce's participation in the event follows on from the recent publication of its 'Pact For Commerce' document.
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