The festive decorations have been packed away for another year, and many business owners including myself are looking firmly to the year ahead. At the Inkberrow store the builders have finished the heavy work and are now fixing little snags. This allows me to focus on other jobs such as staffing - a big task as the new store’s team will be more than double the size of our current team.

This has led me to consider the new National Living Wage (NLW). The impending NLW means that recruiting staff will be a much more arduous process as we attempt to find the right blend between young and mature people. The rate per hour between the different age groups will have a big impact on the overall labour costs.

Another major factor that will impact heavily on businesses such mine will be another round of tobacco regulations. In May the European Tobacco Products Directive is set to be enforced, a move which will see a large number of tobacco products, including all cigarettes in packs of less than 20, become obsolete. While I’m sure this change will throw up some challenges for our new store it could possibly mean an opportunity for a different category, perhaps electronic cigarettes, to shine in the lucrative space where the traditional cigarette gantry would normally sit. I am currently leaning towards housing the tobacco products under our counter at the Inkberrow store.

The need to keep apace with the ever-constant change in the retail scene as well as contending with the many hurdles laid by the government all point to hard work ahead.

It’s clear that we are operating in an industry where food deflation and pricing is keener than ever before, multiple and discounter competition continues to grow, and the consumer has more choice than ever. Adding these factors to the government’s policies means that 2016 is shaping up to be a difficult one.

More than ever it will be the year where the entrepreneurial spirit and skills will be fully tested; where reading and sharing ideas will help everyone to make small wins and these will hopefully translate to an overall gain over the year. Happy New Year and let’s roll them sleeves up!