New NI Retail Consortium Director calls for end of ‘perpetual limbo land’
The newly-appointed Director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC), Neil Johnston has called for politicians to show leadership to end what he describes as a ‘perpetual limbo land’ due to the absence of an Executive and the ongoing problems with the NI Protocol.
Neil Johnston brings a wealth of experience to the position having served in public affairs in Northern Ireland for over 20 years, working for a diverse range of organisations and companies including the RSPB, the BBC, Pfizer pharmaceuticals and latterly Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke.
He has represented a range of professional organisations and trade bodies including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Association for the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). Neil will build on the NIRC’s strong reputation and lead implementation of the organisation’s strategy and stakeholder engagement in Northern Ireland.
CRITICAL TIME IN THE INDUSTRY
The retail industry makes a significant economic and social contribution to Northern Ireland, employing 90,000 people and contributing 20% of all business rates receipts. The NIRC’s members span across well-known high street, out-of-town, online and grocery retailers.
“I am incredibly pleased to take on this key role at the NIRC (Northern Ireland Retail Consortium) representing such an economically important and dynamic industry at what is a critical time for the economy in Northern Ireland,” said Neil.
“We need all our political leaders to move us beyond the seemingly perpetual limbo land that we are currently stuck in and which is holding back important economic decision making. We ought to be focusing laser-like on the economy and nurturing its growth instead of seemingly going round in circles.
‘We need all our political leaders to move us beyond the seemingly perpetual limbo land that we are currently stuck in’
“I look forward to working with government, Assembly members and stakeholders from across Northern Ireland to highlight the vital role this industry plays and proactively seek solutions to support economic growth.”
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “It is an exceptionally important time in Northern Ireland; in addition to facing the same economic headwinds as the rest of the UK in terms of costs inflation, energy pricing and the overall difficult economic outlook, Northern Ireland continues to be without both a devolved Executive and any resolution to the issues presented by the NI Protocol.
“We very much look forward to supporting Neil and our members in Northern Ireland to address the manifold challenges the industry faces.”
David Lonsdale, Head of Devolved Nations at the British Retail Consortium, added: “Neil is an excellent addition to the team with his in-depth knowledge of Northern Ireland policy-making and the economic landscape. I know Neil is committed to supporting the development of the industry, its significant contribution to the NI economy and its consumers and will work hard for our members’ interests.”