As part of the whole of Government response to Brexit, I and my Department officials are working to support the grocery retail and distribution sector in its efforts to prepare for Brexit.
My Department has had ongoing engagement with the retail sector in relation to Brexit since 2016, principally through the Retail Consultation Forum (RCF) which I chair, and also bilaterally.
Membership of the RCF includes retail associations such as Retail Ireland, Retail Excellence, CSNA, RGDATA, other bodies such as ISME, SFA and Chambers Ireland, a number of retailers, the City and County Managers Association (CCMA), and a number of relevant Government Departments.
In addition, the retail sector engages regularly with DBEI through the DBEI Enterprise Forum on Brexit and Global Challenges. This forum, also chaired by the Minister, provides an opportunity for discussion of enterprise policy implications arising from Brexit and other Global Challenges, with a particular focus on capturing the views, concerns and suggestions of the enterprise sector. Three of the largest retail representative bodies - Retail Ireland, Retail Excellence and RGDATA are members of this Forum.
Separately, I have met with the major players in the grocery retail and distribution sector to better understand the contingency planning that is ongoing within that sector to provide for continued food supplies.
My dialogue with major players through the Retail Consultation Forum and related industry roundtables indicates that major retailers/distributors are not anticipating any significant food supply shortage issues, in the context of ongoing contingency measures on the part of Government and the preparations being made by the sector itself.
My Department has put in place an extensive suite of supports for the enterprise sector, which can be availed of by the retail sector to address firm level issues and preparedness, in areas such as cashflow; working capital; advice on currency management/hedging; customs training etc.
My continued dialogue with the retail and distribution sector reflects the importance that Government attaches to the sector and its recognition of the challenges that it faces, including in a no-deal Brexit scenario. I will continue to engage with the sector on preparatory actions and to provide information and appropriate assurances to consumers.