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Earlier this week RN interviewed Bill Esterson MP, the new Labour shadow small business minister. Taking a leaf out of Jeremy Corbyn’s book we took some of your questions along too
Q. Financial penalties are not strong enough to stop many retailers selling illicit tobacco. What would a Labour government do? Amit Patel, Bellevue Food & News, South London
A. Bill Esterson “This puts pressure on law abiding businesses and, if a retailer has committed a crime, they really need to be watched closely in the future. If you cut the number of trading standards officers, however, then there’s no one there to deal with it and that’s what’s been happening.”
Q. How can we stop illicit tobacco hitting the market in the first place? Ranjan Patel, Marsh Hill News, London
A. Bill Esterson “We need to make sure that the border force is equipped to catch illicit tobacco as it comes in. Unfortunately, this is going in the wrong direction and with the reduction in their budgets we will see fewer people stopped and caught.”
Q. What support would you give retailers in areas where immigration and other pressures means your customer base is changing all the time? Anna Patel, Star News, Nottingham
A. Bill Esterson “Our view is that communities where there’s been large changes need additional investment. It’s challenging for areas like Manchester, Rochdale and Nottingham and government needs to invest so that employers have the support they need to keep people in work.”
How can retailers pay the National Living Wage when the Star has cut £500,000 from retailers’ margins in one month? David Woodrow, Woodrow’s News, Renfrewshire
A. Bill Esterson “Newspapers are under pressure, but they can’t just take it out on retailers. We need to highlight best practice, where there are newspapers who do pay a decent margin, and ensure that all publishers work as closely with the trade bodies as possible.”
Read the full interview with Bill Esterson MP only in Retail Newsagent’s 20 November issue
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