Labour business chair Hamish Sandison has pledged to work with the NFRN on the challenges facing independent retailers at the party’s annual conference.

NFRN national president Stuart Reddish and vice national president Muntazir Dipoti attended the conference in Brighton last week.

Dipoti told betterRetailing: “A highlight of the visit was meeting Hamish and letting him know what the NFRN does. He responded well to us, and expressed a desire to work more closely with the federation on the importance of small businesses and the issues we face.”

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The pair also met Labour MP John McDonnell, who also expressed an interest in working with the federation. “We were able to see John a couple of times where we brought up policies impacting retailers and the growing problem of illicit tobacco,” said Dipoti.

Retail crime remained at the top of the agenda, with a number of fringe events being dedicated to the issue.

“We went to a talk called ‘Safer Communities, Safer Shop workers’ which discussed the threats facing retailers right now,” said Dipoti.

“It gave us an opportunity to chat through our concerns about the rise of crime against independent retailers with the panel, which included retail union USDAW.”

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Earlier this month, the NFRN attended the Liberal Democrats annual conference at which the party agreed to work with them on retail crime.

Dipoti explained that, although he wasn’t able to have as many conversations with Labour MPs, he was encouraged by the those he did have.

“It’s a start, and we met so many people who were unaware of what the NFRN was,” he said.

“We were able to get a lot of the Labour party on board with the struggles facing independents.”

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