With so much talk in recent times about the huge changes that have been taking place in retail all over the world, there is no doubt that every part of Cork City and County is also affected by these changes in consumer trends. Cork City as the heart of Cork retail has seen tremendous change and while certain new policies have shown a mixture of confused messages, twenty-four hour bus implementation progress and a plan for the future that looks like it will get better support, there is without doubt a good future for retail if it embraces the change that is so necessary. There are many factors that have impacted retail in Cork and in truth they are global factors as well as local factors. Instead of dwelling on the past, we must look to the future mode for retail in Cork, embrace it and ensure that we have a fully positive and proactive strategy in place for it. In Cork we have a fantastic group of retailers across a diverse range of businesses. It is my belief that most of these retailers have embraced change for their businesses and will embrace further change. However, they need to see a matching embracing strategy from our two local authorities in the form of a much better and more proactive retail strategy for all of Cork. Neighbouring local authorities have adopted innovative strategies for their retail sector and it is clear these are working and delivering much needed growth in footfall. This needs to happen in all parts of Cork without delay. I believe our city and our county towns and villages all need individual retail strategies. This is not a big ask and should be seen as a challenge that would deliver substantial benefits for everyone and therefore the motivation for doing this is on the basis of a win win philosophy as a result. This Thursday evening March 21st at 6.30pm, a meeting will take place at The Convention Centre of The Clayton Hotel Silver Springs on the future of retail in Cork. The title of the meeting is ‘Embracing Change and the Future of Retail in Cork and Cork as the Retail Capital of Ireland South’. Retail Excellence Ireland who have 230,000 members will address the meeting and everyone with an interest in retail is welcome to attend. With 35,000 people employed in retail in Cork across 5,000 businesses that contribute €5bn annually to the Irish economy, it is a sector that deserves support and strategic thinking for its future wellbeing and I believe we are now seeing the revival of Cork retail and what I believe will be a new and dynamic focus on the sector.