Rise in minimum wage will put further strain on centres

Retailers are preparing for the latest minimum wage increase and warn jobs may go.

A 5.9 per cent increase to the minimum wage will hit garden centre operators already reeling from rising energy costs and poor sales. The Government announced last month that the minimum wage for those aged 22 and over would rise by 30p to £5.35 on 1 October. The rate for 18- to 21-year-olds will increase 20p to £4.45, while 16- to 17-year-olds will have a 30p rise to £3.30p. The adult rate increase follows a rise of just over four per cent last October. Bents Garden Centre & Nurseries managing director Matthew Bent said it was a “big issue” because it would mean rises for many of the firm’s 300 employees. “It’s certainly going to affect us. There have been huge rises over the past three years, something like 30p per year, which is well above the rate of inflation. That impacts because it sends our costs sky high.” The company will evaluate each job to assess whether the role was necessary. The director of another company said: “Any substantial increase in the wage under current trading situation is quite alarming. “If we can recoup that through price increases for our products it would be fine. But that is quite difficult to do. I think a lot of the other increases will end up being taken on board by the growers, which is not sustainable over a long period of time.” He said the company would look carefully at future staff recruitment. British Retail Consortium director-general Kevin Hawkins has warned that the rise could lead to the loss of 35,000 retail jobs.

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