Snowdrop Independent Living Whitchurch Shop

Welsh mobility retailer Snowdrop Independent Living is calling for more support from the Welsh Government to support essential retail businesses in order to make a full recovery of the sector.

Snowdrop Independent Living, which has its headquarters in Haverfordwest, has written to First Minister Mark Drakeford requesting assistance to the sector as follows:

  1. Grants for each retail mobility store in Wales set at £50,000 per store. This would cover part of the losses from remaining open and should be subject to demonstrating a reduction in turnover of 50 per cent or more to qualify for the full grant.
  2. Requests for local authorities and other bodies to accelerate the backlog of work in installing adaptations like stairlifts and allowing them to contract services for the rest of the calendar year.

In the last 12 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, Snowdrop Independent Living states that it devised a digital marketing strategy including a brand-new online shop, virtual appointments and an online consultation service in response to the stay-at-home restrictions.

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While it said that its strategy allowed the business to stay connected with its core customer base, the retailer explains that its main revenues are still made up via face-to-face sale and home installations.

David Morgan, Managing Director of Snowdrop Independent Living, says: “We have seen the support for non-essential shops and businesses that were made to close the doors.

“However, as an essential retailer, we are open to meet the needs of elderly and disabled people. We are still suffering from significant cash flow challenges but fell through the gaps of the safety net of government support.”

By 2025, the number of people aged 65 and over is expected to rise to over a million people in Wales. With a rapidly increasing ageing population and the costs of care set to rise, along with the immense pressure the NHS is already facing due to the coronavirus pandemic, the retailer argues that the private healthcare sector plays a vital role in supporting the local authorities delivering quality care.

Kevin Bounds, Chairman of Snowdrop Independent Living, says “Without a viable mobility retail sector, it is likely that there would be a greater call on public funds as this would lead to increased hospitalisations, falls and need for residential care, often funded by local authorities.

“With long Covid yet to be fully addressed, these pressures will likely increase over the next few years.

“We are aware that the Welsh government has funds available to support Welsh businesses that have not yet been disbursed.

“As businesses emerge from the lockdown period, they will have endured significant losses then need to invest in additional working capital to scale up for recovery.

“For a socially beneficial sector such as ours, it would make huge sense to provide the necessary support quickly and easily.”

Kevin also added:“We are disappointed that we are yet to receive a response to our letter dated 25th February and even more disappointed that the recently announced additional support package continues to ignore the needs of our sector and only focusses on non-essential retail and hospitality.

“We note that in England the care and mobility sector is explicitly included in the rate support scheme.

“Our products contribute directly to the physical and mental wellbeing of our customers who have had difficult year and we are doing our best to support them. “

“We appeal to the Welsh government to provide support to the entire care and mobility retail sector.”

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