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Retailers on the high streeta
By Bira
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Independents rise above failing majors

The media obsession with poor retailers taints us all, says Andrew Goodacre

CONSUMERS’ VIEWS OF the high street are often shaped by the reports they see in the media. The headlines about the “death of the high street” do not make pleasant reading. The more we talk about terminal decline, the more likely it becomes, so without delay we have to encourage the media also to celebrate the many positive strengths of conventional retailing.

With an uncertain future for House of Fraser and Debenhams, the public may assume that department stores are a thing of the past. Yet Bira members are succeeding where larger chains have failed. Yes, trading is challenging for some department stores, as it is for most retailers, but financial controls, shrewd investment, strong leadership, diversity of product and obsessing about customers’ changing needs are the foundation of an independent store’s success, as our cover story on the Morleys Group shows.

By all accounts, “Veganuary” was a great success and highlighted a growing consumer interest in eating healthily. The National Association of Health Stores, an important part of Bira, represents members that have benefitted from this external trend about better health.

Not all outside events are good for business, however, as we learn from the experience of Quality Vitamins and Herbs in Glasgow (see pp12-13), which is still suffering from severely reduced footfall following the fire at the city’s famous School of Art in June 2018.

The council is trying to support affected businesses with rate-free periods. But this dreadful incident reminds all business owners that they need to ensure they are covered for such unforeseen setbacks. Comprehensive insurance policies are crucial to protect your business.

We work hard with Towergate, our insurance provider, to develop the best policies for our members. I would urge all Bira members to review their policies to ensure they have adequate cover for problems like business interruption.

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