Retail is an exciting, dynamic and diverse industry. It is a driving force in our economy, a hotbed of innovation and the UK's largest private sector employer. It serves 53 million consumers with a workforce of 3.1 million people, contributing £94 billion to the economy.
We are at a reset moment for the industry. Technology is transforming how people shop. That's on top of rising costs and softening demand, together creating a perfect storm that is driving real structural change right across the industry.
That change is happening quickly and happening now – some say we are only at the beginning. There's been a roll call of household names facing significant challenges, and some business are sadly no longer with us.
We are seeing proposed mergers, other strategic alliances, and new entrants to the market, which all tell us that the industry will look very different in the future. Challenges for some; opportunities for others; a critical moment for everyone.
And then, there is Brexit. From the start of Brexit negotiations, we have made the case for a fair deal for consumers. We have highlighted the challenges for retailers and consequences for millions of UK consumers of leaving the European Union without a deal because we believe that promoting the interests of consumers – and we are all consumers – will lead to the fairest settlement for our country as a whole.
This period of radical transformation means we have a collective responsibility now more than ever to address the biggest challenges, together. I passionately believe retail has a bright future and that this period is about "reinvention retail", not "armageddon retail". As always, the BRC is here to help make a positive difference – working to help retailers get fit for the future.
As Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, I support any initiative to promote and bring about a better understanding of retailing during what is the most prolonged and radical transformation in recent history. I hope this edition of The Parliamentary Review contributes something towards that for you.