>>ways to grow businesses are proving elusive


It’s been a tough 12 months for many in our industry and the signs are that we ain’t seen nothing yet. With CBI figures showing the highest number of retailers reporting falling sales for 13 years and Office for National Statistics figures citing the worst drop in manufacturing output for three years, the picture is bleak.
And this is even before increasing business rates, a rise in the minimum wage and the cost of enacting a raft of new legislation are taken into account.
Writing in The Grocer last month, Jacqui Smith, minister in the then DTI, said a key part of a new Labour government would be to “do even more to reduce unnecessary regulations and red tape” as it seeks to encourage small business in particular.
Well, excuse me, but could someone please tell me what it has done to help our industry to date? I suspect statements such as Smith’s have caused a great deal of mirth among readers of The Grocer. Indeed, I must congratulate the Association of Convenience Stores for cannily noting down all Labour’s election promises. It intends to hold the new government to them.
It should do its best. Food retailers and manufacturers are scratching their heads as they look for new ways to grow their businesses. So it was pleasing to see some great examples of collaboration at ECR Europe (see p34). But outside the conference, the mood was less appeasing, as supplier after supplier revealed what is really going on behind the scenes.
Just before one supplier was about to present the good work he had done with a global retailer, he was collared by that very retailer. After the presentation, he wanted to talk prices.....

as harder times loom...
...we point to solutions Anyway, in this world where no one is prepared to give anything away, we’d like to cheer you up with a giveaway that might provide business solutions. As one of our Letters points out this week, IT can make a huge difference to profitability. So free with this week’s issue is our Supply IT supplement, full of accounts of great work across the industry. And don’t forget to buy next week’s issue for your chance to win the hottest gadgets for business and fun.