Northern Irish small shops champion Byran Gray is set to retire after seven years as the chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association.

Gray will step down in February and said news of his successor would be announced soon.

NIIRTA represents the interests of 874 independent retailers throughout Northern Ireland as well as working closely with the leading symbol groups including Henderson Group, J&J Haslett, Musgrave Group and Costcutter.

During his time at the helm of the lobby group, Gray has campaigned on all the major issues facing independent retailers in Northern Ireland, from planning to representations to the Competition Commission. His most recent success came last month when a campaign with local traders forced Tesco to abandon plans to build a 47,000 sq ft store in Ballycastle.

Gray said he was stepping down so he could spend more time with his family.