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CEO high achievers
By Bira

CEO Andrew Goodacre is impressed by bira’s innovative high achievers

Let’s hear it for our winners

It is always great to celebrate success and recognise some of the best achievements in our business. On October 3 I attended the Excellence in Housewares Awards in London, an event celebrating retailers of all sizes, as well as their suppliers. I am delighted many of the winners were bira members.

I was particularly thrilled to see our own Potters Cookshop in Hockley, Essex carry off a trio of awards, concluding with the accolade of representing the UK at the Global Innovation Awards in Chicago next March. This achievement is testament to the hard work and love that Tom Carter and his team put into their business. Potters is the epitome of a progressive independent retailer, providing excellent service, wonderful experiences, knowledge, and products that people want.

bira itself had reason to celebrate last month when we received two silver accolades at the Association Excellence Awards, which recognise the work done by member associations across the UK. Our awards are for our member newsletter and for this magazine. We have worked hard in the past two years to improve our communications to the bira community and hopefully you enjoy the results.

Back on 11 September, we launched our manifesto to reduce business rates. We are asking the government to introduce a £12,000 allowance for all businesses as we believe this is easy to implement and will help the vast majority of independents. In October we took our campaign directly to MPs.

In the past couple of weeks, I gave evidence to the select committee looking at the health of the high street. A select committee is a group of politicians from different parties, chosen to report and advise on a particular subject. The consideration of the state of the UK’s high streets gave bira the perfect platform to have robust discussions on many key areas of concern, such as parking, planning and, most importantly, business rates. This committee, which will make recommendations to the relevant government departments, was clearly sympathetic about business rates, but I fear that the government is dragging its feet on this.

Additionally, I have met with individual MPs to explain the needs of independent retailers. As well as our rates proposal, we also discussed retail crime, which increasingly is being ignored by the relevant authorities. My message to all MPs is clear – if they want to preserve the communities in their constituencies, they need to preserve the high street and its independents.

I really believe that diversity and innovation are the lifeblood of such independents. In today’s challenging market, they must respond to consumer trends and offer something different, as many Excellence in Housewares winners do.

I have seen many examples of retail innovation as I travel the country meeting our members. I was particularly interested by a barber shop that has installed a drinks bar. This is a splendid example of diversification and entrepreneurial flair, but my one pressing question is this – would I trust myself to have a sensible haircut after a couple of drinks?

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