Revitalising town centres essential for regional growth

Thursday, 26 March 2015
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, said the report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on revitalising town centres highlights the importance of balanced regional growth. Retail Ireland has long said that successful and sustainable town centre revitalisation can only be achieved through determined efforts at local and national level. Retail is the largest employer in the country with over 275,000 jobs, with 75% of those jobs located outside of Dublin. The group called for measures to address legacy costs which have hampered growth such as excessive commercial rates and unsustainably high rents.

Director of Retail Ireland Thomas Burke said: “Irish retailers are now seeing a rise in consumer confidence and modest growth. But many retailers are still struggling. We are glad to see that measures proposed by our members to increase resources to make towns and cities better places to visit and shop have been included, such as better lighting, improved cleaning and a greater Garda presence to tackle anti-social behaviour. Retail Ireland had highlighted the fact that introducing flexibility to parking charges  would encourage shoppers to visit town centres and alleviate congestion, it's great to see this included.

"Retailers' ability to grow and create new jobs have been undermined by legacy costs. It's clear local authorities have a significant role to play by reducing commercial rates, and facilitating ‘rates holidays’ to encourage the take-up of vacant units. Upward only rent reviews have created an unsustainble situation which has forced some retailers to close. The report's recommendation to relieve businesses of the burden of upward only rent reviews is essential and will encourage growth for many retailers.

"If these recommendations are properly implemented, not only will it make towns and cities centres more attractive, it will help local communities and Retail Ireland forecasts it could mean as many as 40,000 new jobs in retail over the next few years."