Independent Retail Europe has marked its 60th anniversary with a call for governments and the EU to ensure that SME retailers can "compete fairly" with their larger counterparts, "without facing unnecessary red tape and requirements," according to Thomas Nonn, president of Independent Retail Europe.
The group, which celebrated the 60-year milestone at an event on 15 November, which was attended by both independent retailers and policy makers from the European Parliament and European Commission, reiterated the vital role that independent retailers bring to societies.
SME retail is a sector that has had to be "particularly flexible" given continued changes to the EU regulatory landscape, Nonn added.
'Part Of The Fabric'
Also speaking at the event, MEP Marion Walsmann, Vice-chair of the Legal Affairs Committee and member of the European Parliament’s IMCO Committee, noted that “independent retailers are an integral part of to the fabric of our towns and communities. They are not only important for consumers, but they also create jobs and are committed to equal opportunities, welcome skilled and unskilled workers, and actively promote inclusivity.
"Europe's retail sector makes our neighbourhoods vibrant and is a real asset to the EU economy as a whole."
Attendees discussed the importance of independent retail in enabling various business initiatives such as promoting local products, offering repair services, preventing food waste, and emphasising recycling and energy efficiency.
'A Key Role'
“Independent retailers play a key role for local communities in Europe and help to shape a more sustainable and inclusive European society," noted MEP Ivan Štefanec, President of SME Europe, who also spoke at the event.
"SMEs and SME retailers are the backbone of our economy. It should be a priority to take their concerns and the business model of groups of independent retailers into account in our policy making within the European Parliament.”
Looking ahead, Independent Retail Europe reiterated its commitment to play an active role in advocating for policies that support the cooperative retail model of groups of independent retailers and SME retail as a whole.