We are promoters of a diverse retail sector for a healthy and competitive retail market for the benefit of EU citizens. As a large segment of the retail market we are actively involved in the discussions on the revitalisation of town centres and rural areas. Groups of independent retailers typically serve both urban and rural areas as the group model allows sustainable stores in rural areas.
Vertical agreements between the group and each retailer and horizontal agreements among its members, such as purchasing agreements, service agreements and agreements for information exchanges, are inherent and indispensable elements to the efficient functioning of groups of independent retailers, and have clear pro-competitive effects that benefit consumers. The current competition rules discriminate groups of independent retailers as the rules are unnecessarily restrictive when compared to the rules that apply to integrated chains. We aim for maximum flexibility in competition rules to enable networks of independent retailers to function efficiently, on par with integrated chains. This is particularly important in e-commerce. Apart from the revision of the rules and guidelines on horizontal and vertical agreements, we are actively engaged in the discussions on the New Competition Tool, the Market Definition Notice and the Ex-ante tool for Digital platforms.
Digital Strategy / E-commerce
We want our members to be efficient, competitive and visible online. Groups of independent retailers should be able to run a branded web shop where goods can be sold at a common price. This urgently requires changes to EU competition rules. This would provide a user-friendly experience for consumers and competitive groups of independent retailers in a multichannel retail market.
Groups of independent retailers are committed to playing their part in the transition to a circular economy. Our sector actively engages in waste prevention, re-use and recycling. We are working with policy makers on the legislative files in this area to achieve realistic sustainable solutions.
Food supply chain sustainability / Farm to Fork
As the final link in the supply chain with direct relations to consumers, independent retailers are affected by the policy outcomes of discussions related to the sustainability of the food supply chain. As a founding organisation of the former Supply Chain Initiative (2013-2019), a voluntary framework for fair behaviour among trading partners in the food supply chain. We will continue to promote a sustainable food supply chain and good business relations within the chain, and to actively engage in the EU’s continued work on the matter.
Groups of independent retailers constitute an important segment of the European groceries retail market. A large part of our direct members are active in the food sector. Many of them are already actively combating food waste in both traditional and original ways at all levels of their operations. As a member of the Food Waste Platform, Independent Retail Europe is actively involved in the Commission’s work on combatting food waste.
When purchasing goods and services, consumers need transparent information, and adequate protection of their rights. Over the past 30 years, the EU has created a wide range of consumer protection rules which now need to be adapted to the new challenges of the digital age. Consumer protection rules should also be harmonised to enable consumers and companies to buy and sell across the EU Single Market with confidence.
Members of Independent Retail Europe are deeply committed to ensuring that only safe products are placed on the market as this is the foundation of their excellent reputation with consumers. In order to achieve high safety standards and clear rules that can be easily implemented and that do not constitute unnecessary burdens, Independent Retail Europe actively seeks clarifications on the distinctive obligations of economic actors – especially of distributors – across food and non-food supply chains.
Member groups of Independent Retail Europe are composed of, or provide services to, independent SME retailers. It is, therefore, one of Independent Retail Europe’s top priorities to be actively involved in SME policy discussions to ensure that the interests of independent SME retailers are taken into consideration.
To become a successful independent retailer in the highly competitive modern retail market, many SME retail entrepreneurs choose to join a group of independent retailers. Independent Retail Europe works to achieve greater political recognition for the group business model for competitive independent/SME retail, and seeks to promote entrepreneurship and sustainable growth.
Use of data
Data privacy and the use of data are a key customer and retailer concern. We are helping our members understand the data economy and their obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation. To remain competitive in the data economy, independent retailers and their groups should be able to reap the benefits of the data generated within their group ecosystem and be able to easily share business i.e. non-personal data.