Minister for Rural Affairs to speak at ACS 2021 Rural Shop report launch

Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Minister for Rural Affairs (pictured) has been confirmed to provide a keynote address at the event, reflecting on the findings of the report and detailing the Government’s plans to support rural shops.

Taking place virtually on 23 February, ACS’ Rural Shop Report launch event will provide an insight into the essential role that rural shops play in their local communities and to the wider economy.

The morning launch event will reveal the findings of this year’s report, providing a comprehensive overview of rural shops in the convenience sector, the services that they offer and the people running stores.

ACS communications director Chris Noice will present the findings of the report and ACS public affairs manager Steve Dowling will outline the key policy priorities for rural shops.

The event will feature a virtual study tour of a rural shop with Christine Hope, who runs a nationally-recognised independent village store and post office Hopes of Longtown, based in rural Herefordshire, to find out about the running of a rural store first-hand.

The virtual study tour will be followed by a panel session chaired by James Lowman and featuring Christine Hope along with Gordon Wenham from Chapel Lane Stores, Abbotsbury.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “This report celebrates the economic and social role played by rural shops, and this has been more keenly felt than ever over the past year. It is no exaggeration to say that rural shops have sustained communities and been a real lifeline for vulnerable people during the pandemic.

“This launch event will provide politicians, retailers and suppliers with a first look at the data from this year’s Rural Shop Report, which is the definitive report on this vital part of the retail sector.”