Posted: 14/08/2014

Minimum Wage rise will pile pressure on shop owners, ACS chief warns

James LowmanIncreases to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) result in hard-pressed shop owners working longer hours themselves and putting off investment in their businesses, according to the head of the 33,500-member Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The NMW for adults over 21 is due to rise by 19p to £6.50 per hour from October, based on recommendations from the Low Pay Commission.

In an interview for FFD’s September edition, to be published shortly, James Lowman (pictured) said that while NMW rises might did not lead to instant job losses in retail, they cause more gradual damage to small firms.

“People don’t shut down shops right away,” he said. “We may have overplayed that card with Government. But the owners tend to work longer hours themselves, they delay investment decisions and they don’t replace staff when they leave.”

Lowman said there was pressure from many quarters to increase the NMW, making it harder for trade organisations like the ACS to argue the case for wage restraint.

Given the long hours that they work, the majority of owner-managers in small shops are earning below the NMW themselves, he said, adding:: “The entrepreneur running a small business is not an infinite resource. They can’t work unlimited hours.”

Lowman was speaking to FFD after the magazine’s publisher, the 1,300-member Guild of Fine Food, joined the ACS as an affinity member this summer.

The move gives the Guild access to the ACS’s lobbying power with Government and to better information about forthcoming legislation affecting independent shops.

“The issues facing one of my typical members are the same issues facing the Guild’s,” Lowman told FFD, “and by working together we have a more powerful voice.”

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