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Lawrence White of new member Treacle George in Tetbury with Gary Mitchell.
By Bira
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Introducing the RMM for the South and South-West

Bira’s four regional membership managers or RMMs are the public faces of the association, constantly criss-crossing the country to visit existing members and to recruit new ones. We joined the RMM for the south and south-west, Gary Mitchell, who lives in a small village in Somerset between Glastonbury and Bridgwater. He has been with Bira since 2017.

He is well experienced in the retail hospitality sector having spent over 12 years as a sales-man for a family-run business selling products into the FMCG industry, predominantly pubs, clubs & restaurants. Before that, Gary was an assistant manager for Presto Retail (now known as The Cornish Bakery) and even survived a stint at Mike Ashley’s infamous Sports Direct.

On a sunny week in May he managed to see retailers in Tetbury in Gloucestershire, Malmesbury in Wiltshire, Stockbridge in Hamp-shire, and Sherborne and Swanage in Dorset. In Tetbury, Gary signed up Treacle George, a furniture, light-ing and kitchen and dining shop. Gary had been speaking to owner Lawrence White for some time.

It can often take several conversations and visits to have a new member finally sign up – often they think the Bira offer is too good to be true! Gary commented that all the areas he visited were heavy in independents, possibly because they are tourist destinations, although as he points out, that doesn’t necessarily mean high footfall or high spend.

In the week under review, the market town of Sherborne seemed busy as did the coastal resort of Swanage, which was packed in the run-up to the Bank Holiday.

Gary reports that retailers are cautious as they are seeing footfall decrease, even in the typically busy towns, and the uncertainty of Brexit is causing consumers to be reluctant to spend.

In addition Tetbury has been plagued by lots of roadworks and higher levels of traffic because of the Badminton Horse Trials and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which has meant local people have avoided the area.

Outside work, Gary and his wife Emma are busy looking after their football-mad son Josh, who is seven. Gary has been a keen footballer from an early age and has been coaching an Under-7s team for three years.

You can contact Gary via email at gary.mitchell@bira.co.uk or

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