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Independent retailers - Make the most of 2019
By Bira

Make the most of what’s yours in 2019

I hope all bira members had a good festive period, both in business and personally. In the build-up it was great to see the focus given to independent retail businesses. We saw TV and billboard advertising from Visa, while American Express ran a Shop Small campaign.

bira worked very hard in the final quarter of 2018 to raise the profile of independent retailers and clearly other organisations are recognising the important role you play.

So, 2019 will be another challenging year for the high street as we can expect more purchases to move online. Changes we cannot control are impacting our sector, including Brexit. As I write this, we do not know the exact situation regarding our withdrawal – or not – from the EU. Irrespective of their personal views, all politicians need to recognise the need for maintaining consumer confidence. Any downturn in this will result in less spending, which is not good for anyone.

There are things, however, to look forward to:

  • From April 2019, for businesses with a rateable value below £51,000, there will be a 33% reduction in rates. We expect this adjustment to be applied automatically by the local authority. The reduction will apply to all retail premises owned by a business and will be applied after any reductions for small business rates relief. This beneficial change is a direct result of bira’s campaign before the budget.
  • Another positive from the budget is the decision to maintain the employee allowance at £3,000 (in future this will be available only to small businesses). This allowance reduces your employer’s National Insurance contributions by £3,000. If you have not been getting this benefit, you can claim back up to £2,000 for a previous tax year, dating back to 2014-15. If you do not know about this arrangement, speak to your accountant.
  • Finally, the chancellor announced a £695m fund to support high streets. I urge you all to check with your local authority to see what local schemes and grants are available to support independent businesses.

I strongly encourage you to make one of your New Year’s resolutions to always check what help you can get, and should be getting, from local and central government.

At bira HQ we too are expecting a challenging year. In 2018 we had a record number of business failures within our membership. This year we shall implement ideas to increase membership and the use of our services, such as bira direct and bira bank. At times like this, independents need all the support they can get. As a start, we will keep all subscriptions at current levels.

As I look forward to 2019, my mind turns to our board of management, which comprises executive directors, elected and non-elected members. We like to change membership every year to allow people to bring new ideas. The role is not too onerous with only four meetings a year and members’ contributions are vital and valued. If you would like to be part of the board of management for 2019-2021, please contact me directly on andrew.goodacre@bira.co.uk.

Click on the image below to read the full bira member magazine Jan/Feb 2019 edition:

Hollie Wilson for the Big Interview in the bira Members magazine Jan/Feb 2019

The Big Interview: Daringly different. After a career in fashion, Holly Wilson has brought her eye for style to two cookshops in North London locations.

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