THE owners of a specialist Glasgow drinks retailer have made the case for paying the living wage after receiving an exceptional social media response to their pay policy.

In an increasingly competitive retail market, staff at The Good Spirits Co were delighted – and surprised – at how well their customers responded to the news that they pay the living wage – £8.75 to all workers, regardless of age.

“Anything we do, we put on social media so when we first became accredited and publicised it, there was a huge positive response,” said director Shane Goodbody.

“It was one of the best responses we have every had with everyone saying they were happy we had done it. I definitely think it gives us a better image.”

The retail sector is notoriously low paid but Goodbody and co-owner Matthew McFadyen have always been determined to pay their staff a decent wage.

Both have a solid background in the drinks industry and founded the company in 2011 because of their belief that Glasgow was sorely lacking a specialist spirits shop.

Since opening their first shop in the city centre seven years ago, they have gone on to open two more, another in the centre of Glasgow and one in Hyndland. While they admit the early years were not easy, they now employ 10 full-time and 10 part-time staff and firmly believe that paying a decent wage increases staff motivation and loyalty as well as boosting the company’s image with the public.

“There were only three of us when we started and we were paying ourselves nothing but when we took on our first employees we started paying more than the minimum wage because it does make a huge difference in terms of staff motivation,” explained Goodbody. “Once the living wage became more publicised we got accredited.”

He said that as good customer service was very important for trade, it was essential that staff felt happy at work.

“We like to treat our staff well because if they feel valued, they will give good customer service and that is key for us. It also makes them feel more engaged with the company. I think paying the living wage is a good thing overall because if people have more money they spend more and it keeps the economy going.

“The retail sector is quite low paid – not many other shops are paying the living wage - but it definitely helps us with recruitment and staff loyalty. We have got quite a lot of staff that have been with us a long time and we never have any problem recruiting – our problem is usually that we have so many people applying. Paying the living wage definitely makes a difference.”

The real living wage is unlike the Westminster Government’s version of £7.83, which is effectively the minimum wage and excludes those under the age of 25.

But with margins constantly being squeezed in today’s economy, many employers try to trim wages to cut costs but Goodbody said this was not necessary.

“It is difficult sometimes to pay the living wage but it is not impossible – you just maybe have to look at things a different way,” he said. “Myself and Matthew are not in this to make a fortune but because we enjoy it and we want to see our staff enjoying it too.

“It is always a bit of a worry when the yearly increase comes round and you wonder how much it is going to be but we are perfectly happy to keep paying it as it has done well for us so far.”