In 2015, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy responded to the challenges faced by the retail sector as a result of the profound changes taking place in this area by launching a Retail Trade Dialogue Platform. The objective behind this initiative was to pick up on the most important issues associated with this change, such as ensuring local supply for citizens, keeping city centres attractive, coping with digitisation and competition, and to look at its impact on professionals working in the sector. Ultimately, the platform sought to open up new prospects for retailers and all others affected by these developments.
The focus was on a dialogue between the relevant stakeholders, i.e. companies and business associations, academia, the trade union, the Federal Government, the Länder and municipalities. How can the retailers, municipalities, Länder and the Federal Government respond to the far-reaching structural change? What are the challenges for the employees? These and other questions were discussed with the stakeholders in workshops, and ways forward were mapped out.
The project was supported by an consisting of 24 members from retail associations, the trade unions, companies, academia, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, the Länder and the top municipal associations. The advisory board was chaired by Dr Sabine Hepperle, Director-General responsible for SME policy at the Economic Affairs Ministry. The co-chairs were Stefan Genth, director of the Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE - Germany Trade Association), and Stefanie Nutzenberger, member of the federal executive of the Verdi trade union.