Friday, 19 February 2016

Editorial - Simplifying Trader/Management Relations

Sometimes it is a good thing to simplify complex relationships and re-focus. QVM certainly involves complex relationships and a power game is about to be played out that will impact on all parties.

So, let's simplify. Essentially, our market involves two parties - QVM, the owners - and Traders, the key stakeholders. (Yes, there are more stakeholders, but this is about simplifying). Logically both have a role here and it is the level of co-operation between the two that influences progress. Neither can operate without the other, and although their aims sometimes conflict (a classic landlord/tenant conflict) it is in everybody's interest to find a universal path for both to succeed.

The majority of Trader Representatives on the QVMAC believe they are working to that end. Sure, they are just an advisory group, and their Terms of Reference could be stronger, but significant gains have been made over recent years and their influence is substantial. There is a new trader group at the door and they want to form a strong trader's association. 

Actually this new trader group has some familiar faces and essentially they want more control for traders. In fact, as one commentator has said, "They want to take over the world!" There is nothing wrong with some high aims, as long as they are tempered with reality and managed professionally. This time around, a strong traders association has the blessing of management who are keen to see a representative association that can sign agreements and help work our way through a minefield of renewal projects. It is important that we don't slip into the old "them versus us" association mentality that has failed in previous attempts. The bottom line here is that all participants have their rights.

A strong, professional trader's association has support, but it needs to be based on strong principles and values that embrace the future of the market as a key component of our city and its community. An association that exists only to "protect  traders" (whatever that means), but neglects the frantic pace of change in consumer needs and wants, is doomed to fail.

Ironically the real battle here is not traders versus management, but traders AND management versus the retail revolution. Throw in a market renewal and we have a very stressful situation that will test any relationship. In these tough times traders will need support and the best support will come from everybody working together to create a vibrant focused market that meets the needs of today's customers. Inevitably that will mean a trading environment that generates reasonable trading profits. Traders will need some empathy and the opportunity to adjust, or maybe even exit if that is their choice. Working together to create a vibrant market with a "fair go" for traders will make us all winners.