Opening & Closures Report from H1 2019 shows good news for Indies

The latest Opening and Closures Report using data from the first half of 2019 provides good news for independent retailers across the UK. Losses of independent units have decreased whilst the net decline of multiples increased when compared to H1 2018. Read the full report here.


Andrew Goodacre, CEO at bira commented:

“Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) said: “Seeing a greater number of independent retail businesses opening on our high streets is great news. They are the life blood of our town centres. They provide a service like no other and they allow people to come together, to prevent social isolation and they keep money in the local economy. It’s great to see landlords working with businesses to come up with creative ways to use larger retail spaces left by the multiples and it is clear that the support from the government with a 30% reduction in business rates has encouraged more people to open a shop.

The problem however is that, as we can see in the figures, the long-term prospects for independent retail businesses aren’t so good. To see thriving town centres we need investment and we need even more support from the government. The business rates reduction is only guaranteed until 2021 so it is vital that a longer-term solution to this outdated tax is found. With the results of the government’s business rates inquiry being released we now need to see action, so that we can keep independent retail businesses open for longer than five years. We don’t want to just see them survive, we need to see them thriving.”


Lucy Stainton, Head of Retail and Strategic Partnerships at the Local Data Company commented:

“The latest analysis from the Local Data Company shows that independent retailer and leisure businesses continue to be as critical a part of the UK retail market as ever. As legacy chains battle with higher fixed cost bases and the significant adjustments required to meet changing consumer demands, independent operators are proving more agile and are able to take advantage of an increase in available property.

The performance of independent businesses in the first half of this year is also illustrative of our increased preference as consumers for a more diverse offer and newness which is reflected in the top growth categories. The challenge will be with the larger institutional landlords who will need to embrace this trend to create more varied and distinct shopping destinations in spite of the shorter ‘survival rates’ of key independent categories which we are seeing currently.”


Read the full report


The Local Data Company and Bira work in partnership to produce the Opening and Closures Report.

Owner of Naked Grain, Marcia Hallett, wins £1,000 in Bira Insurance competition


Marcia Hallett, owner of Naked Grain Mirrors and Interiors, recently entered the Bira Insurance competition to win £1,000 and received a comparison quote for her business insurance when she’s next due to renew.

On Wednesday 4th December Marcia was selected at random from all Bira members that entered the competition between 5th September to 30th November. When informing her of the news she said “I’m really delighted to be the lucky winner. Thank you Bira, you’ve really cheered me up!”

Naked Grain can be found on Brentford High street in London selling products ranging from furniture, garden products, gifts, home accessories, lighting, mirrors and clothing.


Bira Insurance provide specialist retail and household insurance cover for Bira members. With quality and cost in mind they remove the hassle that can come from finding a reliable insurance policy and the worry that can come from unsuitable cover. For more information about the Bira Insurance service click below.


Find out more about Bira Insurnace

Kitchen Knife and Tableware Specialists, Amefa, Featured on New ITV Cooking Show

Bira Direct Amefa

Renowned for their inspirational choice of high quality flatware, kitchen knives and accessories, international table experts Amefa have been chosen to contribute three of their most recent ranges to ITV’s new Sunday brunch cooking show: Nadia’s Family Feasts.

The company’s Adagio, Trend Copper and Richardson Sheffield Scandi ranges all feature on the exciting new 10-part show, which airs on Sundays at 11.30am on ITV1.
Chosen for their excellent quality, performance and on-trend design, these products help Loose Women’s Nadia Sawalha and her guests to create mouth-watering dishes from around the world. Catch up now on ITV Player.

Trend Cutlery Copper Matt Finish

This season’s metallic trends brings a rich copper warmth to the home. With 4 x table knife, table fork, dessert spoon and teaspoon, it’s got all the essentials for busy family life, plus its practical and stylish to stand up to whatever life throws at it. Available in a 16pc cutlery set and a 4pc teaspoon set.

Adagio Hammered Finish Cutlery

The ideal cutlery that will be the hottest talking point at any dining table. With a modern hammered finish, not only does this on-trend design look good, it is also practical and ergonomically designed making it the perfect cutlery choice for any dining occasions. Available in a 16pc set, which includes 4 x table knife, 4 x table fork, 4 x dessert spoon and 4 x teaspoon.

Scandi 5 piece Knife Block Set

Blending natural textures with exceptional design, Richardson Sheffield’s Scandi brings classic minimalism into the heart of the home. Built to last, its simplicity belies the skill and quality materials that make up each piece. Crafted with premium MoVstainless steel and taper ground blades, these knives offer unrelenting performance and effortless precision cutting. Ash wood handles provide anti-bacterial qualities and durability, while the carbonisation process increases water resistance. An ergonomic shape and unique design features further elevate the

Just click here to access your Amefa buying terms and to find out how to order.

Amefa Bira Direct

Conservatives listen to retailers in pledge to cut business rates

Business Rates

Bira welcomes the Conservatives proposal to support our high streets if they are re-elected. After a three-year campaign, Bira is pleased to see a significant reduction in rates proposed and a fundamental review of rates.

Bira has been working with the Government over that past three years to offer a solution to the outdated and unfair rates system. At a debate at the Houses of Parliament, lead by Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Bira outlined its proposal to create a cost-neutral solution to rates, creating a £12,000 automatically-applied allowance for small independent businesses and it seems the Conservatives were listening.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said: “The proposed 50 per cent reduction in business rates is a crucial and significant support for the high street and for small independent retail businesses. The average business rates for small independents are around £24,000 so the proposed reduction of 50 per cent is in line with our own proposal given to the Government.

“Whilst we wholeheartedly support the proposal and believe it will make the difference between survival or closure for small retailers, what we really need for long term survival is the fundamental review of rates that has now been announced. It is in line with the findings of the Treasury Select Committee’s report on business rates that said plainly that the business rates system is broken. We look forward to working with the Government to ensure that a new system is effective and is implemented quickly for the benefit of business.”

Bira would also like to see more of a commitment to the high street from the other political parties and is committed to working with the future Government to keep our Great British High Street’s vibrant and fit for the future.

What will the future of the high street look like?

Future of the High Street talk hosted by Smiley Movement

SMILEY MOVEMENT CIC, the non-profit arm of the original Smiley® fashion brand is hosting its final Smiley TALK, Future of the High Street for 2019 on Thursday 21st November in London in partnership with the Charity Retail Association.

Following a string of well-attended Smiley TALKS in Brighton, Cambridge and London throughout the year, these free community events gather a cross-section of expert speakers and audiences from different backgrounds to discuss solutions for key societal and environmental issues affecting the UK.

Smiley Movement’s mission is to create #RealSmiles in the world, and by partnering with a number of impactful non-profits in 2019 it hosted its programme of Smiley TALKS covering topics like inclusion, loneliness, transformative education, tackling the stigma around mental health, and promoting a circular economy. Smiley TALKS are designed to inspire optimism, inclusion, sustainability and positive action and align with the UN Goals.

The Smiley TALK on the 21st November will be discussing the Future of the High Street. Robin Osterley, CEO at Charity Retail Association will kick-off the evening with a keynote about his vision for the future town-centre agenda, followed by a young-award winning volunteer Ben Atkin who will share his life-changing journey being a volunteer with Blue Cross.

Speakers Neil Duffy From Retail TRUST, Andrew Goodacre CEO at British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), Lucy Stainton from The Local Data Company and Enedina Columnano Commercial Director at TRAID will form the expert panel and will be analysing trends and sharing insights and strategies for keeping future high streets relevant and valuable to local residents and business.

For more information and to sign up to this free event click here

Smiley TALK on the 21.11.19 at 18.00 at the Candid Arts Trust, 3, Torrens Street, London EC1v 1NQ

London Business School Announces Scrub Daddy as the Winner of the Alexander Fleming Serendipity Award

Scrub Daddy win Award

The London Business School held their annual dinner and awards ceremony, The Real Innovation Awards, last week in the centre of London. The celebration highlights the real heroes and stories that make innovation happen. They know innovation can be haphazard, slow and serendipitous, and rarely follows a smooth straight path. Innovation calls for tenacious and passionate people with vision to make it happen and the winners of the awards told this story.

On November 14th, the award ceremony took place where the winners of six categories were announced. Scrub Daddy was humbled to receive the Judge’s Choice for the Alexander Fleming Serendipity Award! Scrub Daddy’s UK representatives accepted the award on behalf of President & CEO Aaron Krause.

The Alexander Fleming Serendipity Award celebrates success sparked by an accidental discovery; a description that couldn’t better personify how Scrub Daddy came to fruition. Scrub Daddy was initially made as a hand scrubbing tool for the auto industry but had no success. Five years after the failed product had been retired, Aaron decided to use it on a whim to clean his garden furniture. This time, the cool air temperature sparked a change in the polymer foam’s texture. The discovery sparked a chain of events that in short, led to a redesigned shape and newfound purpose in the kitchen. Scrub Daddy then went on to become Americas Favourite Sponge, ABC hit TV show Shark Tank’s biggest success, and now an international phenomenon!

About Scrub Daddy Inc.

Founded in 2012, Scrub Daddy is the world’s most innovative scrubbing product and the most successful product in Shark Tank history. Scrub Daddy’s happy face, with cut out eyes and mouth, is made unique by its patented FlexTexture® material. In warm water, it’s gets soft and in cold water it gets firm. It’s independently lab tested scratch free on over two dozen different household surfaces making it ideal for every cleanup chore imaginable! Scrub Daddy’s exclusive technology also keeps clean of debris, resists stains and odours, even after weeks of use. Scrub Daddy’s mission is to develop the world’s most creative, fun, and innovative cleaning tools.

To start ordering Scrub Daddy products through Bira Direct and to access your exclusive Bira terms just click here.

scrub daddy

QSM Q3 2019 – Summer sales slump


Sales were up for Cards, Stationery, Crafts and Hobbies, Department Store and Books & Toys, Music, Computer/Telecoms independent retailers
between July and September 2019, but all other sectors have seen a drop.

The overall picture from Bira’s exclusive Quarterly Sales Monitor (QSM) for the third quarter of 2019 is one of disappointment, with the vast majority of the figures showing a decline when compared to the previous quarter and Q3 2018. Only three out of the twelve sectors surveyed reported a positive performance during the quarter, with five out of twelve showing a decline when compared to Q3 2018. Overall, 42.33% of respondents reported a higher performance for Q3, which although is a minor improvement on Q2 (41.07%), is down significantly from Q1 2019 (51.75%) and Q3 2018 (48.53%). The overall performance average for the quarter shows a fall of -2.05% for retailers, compared to the same period last year.

Sales of cards, stationery, crafts and hobbies items were higher for the third quarter of the year, with the sector seeing a +3.15% higher performance against Q3 last year. Department store retailers had a strong quarter, reporting an overall average performance of +2.08% which is a significant improvement on both Q2 (-4.06%) and Q3 2018 (-3.82%). Finally, sales of books, toys, music, computers and telecom products were high for Q3, as respondents from the sector reported a performance of +1.42%.

The worst performing sector in the QSM was Clothing & Footwear which was down -4.85% on Q3 2018. After a positive start in Q1 (+0.33%), this is the second consecutive quarter that the sector has reported a drop in sales. Other struggling sectors include gifts, glass, china, jewellery, accessories and luggage retailers and DIY & hardware stores which were down by -3.36% and -2.43%.

Northern Ireland was the best performing region with retailers reporting a performance of +0.33%. This represents a great recovery for the area as retailers in the region reported a performance of -3.17% in Q2 2019 and -5.08% in Q3 2018. Retailers in the North West have continued to struggle, showing a decline of -2.76% which is down on Q2 (-1.99%). Retailers in the South of the United Kingdom have also struggled, with respondents in the South East/London and South West reporting performances of -2.81% and -2.08%.

It is clear from respondents that several issues are causing serious concern. Further, prolonged Brexit uncertainty is still one of the biggest and it is damaging consumer and business confidence. 59.07% of respondents are facing modest margin pressures, due to a weaker Pound as a result. Other ongoing issues such as business rates, rising rents, parking and online selling are still concerns and as such, 53.49% of respondents are feeling anxious about the year ahead.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO said: “The latest figures from the third QSM of 2019 reflect a difficult quarter for independent retail businesses. Although the year started in a more positive manner, only 42.3% of respondents have reported a positive performance. Furthermore, to see an overall drop of 2.05% is worrying and reflective of the tough times retailers are facing.

The survey and results were published before the announcement of the General Election, and it is perhaps fair to say that the results for the quarter would be different had we known about it and the further Brexit delay, beforehand. An election just before the busiest period of the year will almost certainly further impact business and consumer confidence in the months ahead.

These results merit a positive response from national and local governments. Having called an election pre-Christmas is not good news for the high street, and so we are pleased to see positive commitments to reform business rates once the election is complete – Bira would like this reform to be a priority in 2020. We are also pleased with the Conservative commitment to increase the current rates discount to 50% in 2021 for the smaller retail premises. Bira has been campaigning since 2018 for the introduction of a £12,00 rates free allowance, and this would be equivalent to a 50% discount. Again, Bira would like to see this commitment adopted by all political parties and confirmed as soon as possible after the election result.

As always, Bira will continue to fight for a better deal for independent businesses across the UK and I encourage all members to complete our surveys, to help us do this.”

About the QSM
We run the Quarterly Sales Monitor four times a year and along with the report, it is the only survey of its kind that reflects the independent retail industry in the UK. The report features full analysis from the survey as well as all member comments. All reports are then used to influence the media and Government through our Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee (LPAC), with all participants receiving a copy of the results.

If you are a member not receiving our survey emails, contact the membership team to sign up to our member communications list which includes survey emails as well as updates on important industry news, member services, events and exhibitions.

For more on the Quarterly Sales Monitor

Bristol deli Papadeli named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2019

Best Small Shop Winner

A Bristol-based deli with a reputation for incredible cakes and superb takeaway dishes, cooked on site, has been named as Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2019.

Papadeli stocks a selection of foods from local producers and further across Europe and claims one of the best cheese counters in the city. Also on offer is the legendary Papadeli plate of salads, cheeses, pickles, breads, charcuterie and delicious coffee or tea. Shelves are laden with olive oils, balsamics, store cupboard ingredients as well as handmade artisan chocolates, biscuits and treats. The shop gives cookery demonstrations at a local school, and supports a number of local charities.

The winner was announced at an event hosted by the Independent Retailers Confederation at the Houses of Parliament on the 5th of November. The deli was named as the winner from a shortlist of 25 retailers. The runners-up were named as Book-ish, an independent bookshop in Crickhowell, Powys, and The Recycled Candle Company, a small shop in Exeter that sells candles made from recycled wax. Cavanagh & Baker, a shop in Shanklin, Isle of Wight, that stocks everything from fine arts to country wines, and Small Stuff UK, a shop in Sheffield that specialises in ethical and eco-conscious lifestyle products and clothing for small children, were highly commended by the judges.

Speaking after receiving the award, Papadeli owner Simon MacDonnell said:

“We are very honoured and excited to have won this award and I think our regular customers will be proud and happy for us. We have been going for 18 years, starting as a deli, opened a cafe and we also have a cookery school and an outside catering service. Our ground floor shop is a food and wine retailer and an emporium for anything you might want to get in terms of a food treat.”

The Best Small Shops competition is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC). The competition celebrates the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the central role they play in their local communities. It is sponsored by Near St, the retail technology company connecting products in shops to people searching nearby, and booost, a soon to be launched loyalty, gift and promotions app for independent retailers and their customers.

Speaking at the event, Meryl Halls, Vice Chair of the Independent Retailers Confederation, said:

“It is great to be able to celebrate the lifeblood of our high streets, our independent retailers, especially at this time of uncertainty and discord. The role of an independent retailer can seem like a thankless task but they are nothing if not survivors. Small shop owners employ local people and contribute to local communities and we are so pleased to have been able to showcase the best of independent retailing and give a vision of how engaging and exciting our high streets can be.”

Congratulation to the winner!

See other events in the Bira calendar

Independent retailers respond to the findings of the government’s inquiry into business rates

Business rates

Bira welcomes the results of the government’s inquiry into business rates, but is disappointed with the recommendations for reform.

The report is clear about the current business rates system needing reform by removing complexities, incentivising investment and changing the Check Challenge Appeal process, which Bira agrees with.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira, said: “It is clear that the committee has listened to the concerns of retailers about the effects the outdated system is having on business. However, we would like to have seen stronger recommendations for reform resulting in a reduction in the business rates burden on those businesses struggling the most.

“Hopefully the various political parties will include recommendations from this report in the new election manifestos.”

The Committee behind the inquiry, led by The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, visited the Bira offices in Birmingham in May to speak with retailers about the burden of business rates.

At this meeting and previous meetings with the Treasury Bira put forward its own suggestion of a rates free allowance of £12,000 for the smallest retailers. Bira now hope to have the opportunity to work with the Treasury to test the idea.


How will smart meters improve your business?

Smart meters offered to all homes and small businesses

The government is committed to all homes and small businesses being offered smart meters by the end of 2020. A national competition is being run to find new ideas to improve energy use. What is your experience of smart meters?

Smart meters are being rolled out to small businesses across Great Britain and are a vital upgrade to our national energy infrastructure, according to the government. They not only put consumers in control of their energy use, but also provide the building blocks of a more flexible and resilient energy system fit for the 21st century.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) states: “Smart meters will future-proof our energy system so we can move to a more digital, data-driven system that makes the energy market work better for consumers. This will create opportunities for innovation for organisations inside and outside the energy sector, enabling growing technologies and services such as electric vehicles, smart tariffs and micro-generation to be efficiently integrated with renewable energy generation, lowering emissions and cutting costs for consumers.”

The cost of energy is rising and access to energy usage data provides retailers with the opportunity to make changes across their business to save energy, reduce costs and to help the environment.
Innovation will be key to maximising the benefits of smart meter data for non-domestic consumers. In 2018, the government launched an £8.8m Non-Domestic Smart Energy Management Innovation Competition (NDSEMIC).

The innovative solutions funded as part of NDSEMIC range from apps and online platforms for retail and hospitality businesses to schools’ data-driven activities and coding platforms. These innovations will be piloted and tested with businesses as part of an in-built £1.5m research and evaluation programme, led by market research company Ipsos MORI and the Carbon Trust.

The three competition partners with solutions for the retail sector (AND Technology Research, Element Energy, and Hildebrand) are seeking business test sites throughout phase three of the competition, which is running until early 2020.

The competition offers an opportunity for retail businesses to engage in an important Great Britain-wide innovation initiative and gain access to test solutions and services for free. The benefits include the opportunity for cost savings, insight and tailored energy advice.

To learn more about the competition, go to the climate change and energy section of the website or email

Some members have had unexpected charges after a smart meter has been fitted. Have you had trouble with a smart meter? Tell us your experiences at

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Take control of your telephone, electricity and gas supplies with a small business provider you can trust. Bira has teamed up with Utility Options to provide our members with lowest cost quotations in the market and help you switch with no additional cost.

Find out more

Wages Survey reveals retailer confidence is at a three-year low

driving traffic

Bira’s business confidence barometer, which forms part of Bira’s annual Wages Survey showed 50.8% of retailers are feeling anxious, which is significantly higher than in 2018 (40.83%). The number of retailers feeling very confident showed a decline too, with only 7.1% feeling very confident, which is down on 2018 and 2017 (8.28% and 12.5%).

The Wages Survey is an annual questionnaire of Bira’s membership to gauge how employment costs are affecting their businesses and also to see how confident they are about the future.

Despite the lack of confidence, retailers have been able to increase the number of full-time staff they are employing with 76.2% of respondents currently employing full time staff, which is a big improvement on 2018 (53.46%).

Wages are also showing some good signs with the full-time hourly staff rates at an average of £8.53 per hour, 32p above the current National Living Wage of £8.21. However, retailers did say that the low basic salary had impacted their ability to attract the right staff.

One of the biggest signs that confidence amongst retailers is low is that only 17.3% of respondents said they were currently recruiting. Perhaps this could be accounted for by the increase in retailers being able to support flexible working and therefore more staff are able to be retained. 82.6% of retailers said they were able to accommodate all flexible working requests from staff. 64.3% were also able to offer a pay rise this year, another way to retain staff.

Andrew Goodacre said: “Despite the current doom and gloom, the retail industry is still one of the largest employers in the UK, employing three million people. It is many young people’s first step into working life and it can form a life-long, exciting career for many. The Government needs to work with retailers to ensure that this industry is still considered to be a worthy career choice, helping businesses to employ the best people.”

Harris’ Biggest New Product Launch

Bira Direct | LG Harris | Bira

The DIY’er is at the heart of everything Harris does. Harris’s mission is to give the end user the knowledge and confidence that they need to be successful with their decorating projects, whilst at the same time giving you, the retailer, the resources you need to help you choose the right products.

The success continues…

From humble beginnings as a one-man start-up business, Harris founder Leslie George Harris steadily grew his business through the principles of good service and innovation.

Fast forward ninety years and the Harris brand has gone from strength to strength with over 300 employees in the UK and manufacturing facilities in the UK, Sweden & China.

In 2020 Harris has carried out a huge investment in end user research which has helped them to build a new range of products and in-store solutions that will guide customers in choosing the products that they need to complete their decorating tasks.

So how do DIY’ers know which brush is right for their project? And why should they choose Harris?

Choosing the right product has never been easier

To make their product choice easier and more enjoyable, and to help them out of the overwhelming variety of products they’re faced with, Harris has segmented their range by quality level and colour coded all their decorating tools so that they can be categorised by tasks.

Now instead of simply focusing on their paint, they can now make better decisions about their decorating tools.

Three clear quality levels…


Superior in quality, look and feel, this is Harris’ ‘best’ range. It combines innovative materials to produce an excellent finish while make decorating easier. The ULTIMATE range is colour coded by task for easy display and selection.


SERIOUSLY GOOD is Harris’ middle range which offers good quality brushes, rollers and tools that perform well without too much effort. This range is also colour coded by task for effective display and easy selection.


Harris’ ESSENTIALS range is a straightforward selection of basic yet reliable decorating tools that help get the job done in a quick and easy way. Offering excellent value for money, it gives DIY’er’s everything they need on a budget.

To support this there is a range of in-store merchandise solutions to fit all sizes of store. All of these products are available to order through Bira Direct, with negotiated discounts and 30 days end of month credit (subject to T&C’s). Click here to find out more. For more painting and decorating products you can browse our suppliers here.

Scrub Daddy Christmas Colours Are Coming to Town

scrub daddy

Limited edition red and white Scrub Daddies will have your customers rocking around the Christmas tree

The cleaning craze can now continue into Christmas with limited edition Scrub Daddy colours coming in a Christmas themed box. This seasonal release showcases white and red scrubbers only available in this three pack. Last year we gave Scrub Daddy fans a limited number of the Christmas pack and the very next day they bought them online. This year to save them from tears the three pack is available for retailers to stock too!

With all the well-loved features that Scrub Daddy offers like its ergonomic smile, texture changing and scratch resistant material, but now in two more exclusive colours, they will be a must-have for cleaning enthusiasts this Christmas.

The new styled packaging is designed with a fun gift wrap look attracting shoppers to purchase with gifting in mind. Make a list and check it twice because the three pack is the perfect sized stocking filler for cleaning fanatics and followers of Mrs Hinch.

Evo Lifestyle Products are the UK and Ireland distributor of the Scrub Daddy product range and have some of the line in large national stores such as The Range, Homebase, Blue Diamond Garden Centres and Home Store and More in Ireland. The Christmas three pack is available for order now and will be released mid-October. To find out more about our Christmas pack or place an order please email

Remember Bira members have access to preferential terms and 30 days end of month credit when invoicing through Bira Direct.

View Supplier Page Here

Excellence in Housewares Awards Winners 2019

EiH - Excellence in Housewares

Celebrating the winners of The Excellence in Housewares Awards 2019.

Organised by Progressive Housewares magazine in conjunction with Bira, the Excellence in Housewares Awards night took place at the Royal Lancaster London on October 2, when nearly 400 movers and shakers of the housewares industry gathered to celebrate into the early hours.  Awards host was popular televised comedian Stuart Goldsmith, who entertained the crowd with his witty observations on life and housewares.

The full list of winners is below.

Winners 2019:

Retail Employee of the Year: 
Eamonn Ferry, Home Improvements Business Manager, Leekes Retail

Most Promising Newcomer: 
Chef’s Ware

Excellence in Direct Retailing: 

Excellence in Retail Training: 
Borough Kitchen

Excellence in Retail Display: Independent: 
Woodbridge Kitchen Company

Excellence in Retail Display, Multiple or Department Store: 
Morleys Group

Excellence in Retailer Initiative: 
Potters Cookshop

Excellence in Non-Specialist Multiple Retailing: 
Dobbies Garden Centres

Excellence in Specialist Retailing (Multiple and Large Independents): 

Best Department Store: Independent: 
Jarrold Department Store

Best Department Store: Multiple Branch or Group Member: 
Elys of Wimbledon

Bira Cookshop and Housewares Retailer of the Year: 
Prep & Richard Dare

gia UK Winner 2018-2019: 
Jarrold Department Store

Excellence in Cookware: 
GreenPan Featherweights from The Cookware Company

Top Tool or Gadget Award: 
Hip CleanStraw from Auteur

The Plugged-In Award: 
Veritable Smart Arctic White Indoor Garden from Haus

Cutting Edge Award: 
Signature Book & Prism Knife Block Sets from Robert Welch Designs

Excellence in Homewares: 
Stojo Brooklyn and Stojo Mini range from Auteur

Top of the Table Award: 
Bee Happy from David Mason Design

Innovation in Product Award: 
Veritable CONNECT Garden from Haus

The Eco Award: 
If You Care from Eddingtons

Icon Award: 
Wüsthof Classic Knives from Haus

Excellence in Innovation Award: 

Excellence in Marketing Award: 
Le Creuset UK

Excellence in Service Award: 
Horwood Homewares

Honorary Achievement Award: 
Philip Hart


Congratulations to all the winners!

New Einhell B2B online buying portal

Einhell b2b portal

The Einhell B2B portal is a web shop that allows Bira members to purchase items, access product images and assets and also purchase spare parts and accessories. Available for all Bira members this new portal will make it quicker and easier to place your Einhell orders. Order before 31.10.19 to take advantage of the introductory offer of receiving a free Power X-Change 2.0 ah battery twin pack worth £79.99 with every £300 order placed. To find out more and sign up for the B2B portal just visit the Einhell supplier page and click on the link under ‘How to Order’.

Sign up here

The 25 best small shops in the UK are announced

Arragon's Cycle Centre products, bikes, Penrith, Cumbria, bira member, British Independent Retailers Association

After hundreds of entrants, thousands of consumer votes and a panel of industry experts, the top 25 Best Small Shops in the UK have been announced and Bira member Arragons Cycle Centre, in Penrith is in the running.

Entries for the Best Small Shops competition opened on the 4th of July 2019, to coincide with Independent’s Day. Since then independent shops around the UK have had 10 weeks to submit their entry and gain as many consumer votes as possible before being evaluated by a judging panel made up of key figures from the independent retail industry.

About the Best Small Shops Competition

Independent retailers are the lifeblood of UK high streets, offering specialist products and services blended with unique knowledge and passion for their community. The Best Small Shops competition, managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC), of which Bira is a member, celebrates the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the central role they play in their local area.

After successful campaigns in 2011, 2015 and 2018, the 2019 event promised to be even bigger and better than ever. The competition has been incredibly popular with hundreds of shops entering from all over the UK ranging from the Orkney Islands down to Devon and everywhere in between, giving a great representation of the small shops across the UK.

The competition was also promoted by 75 MPs and had a social media reach of over 1.1 million thanks to the variety of MPs, BIDs, shops and other community members sharing the competition.

The top 25 shortlisted retailers now have the fantastic opportunity to attend the competition reception held on the 5th of November at the House of Commons where they will meet with MPs, trade representatives and industry peers.

For more information about the Best Small Shops competition please visit their website, you can also find them on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

The 25 shortlisted shops

These shops stood out to the judges for a range of reasons including the fantastic work they do for their communities and the levels they go to when engaging with current and potential customers. Entrants are in alphabetical order, for more information on each shop and to see their competition entry please visit their page in the Indie Retail shop directory.

  1. Arragons Cycle Centre in Penrith, Cumbria offers cycle hire, a Shimano Service Centre offering emergency repairs, and specialist wheel build. It is a family run business, established for over 40 years but now with a brand new shop – one of the North’s largest.
  2. Bookish, a tightly curated independent bookshop in Crickhowell, Powys, is a community hub running five book clubs, over 100 events annually, the Crickhowell Literary Festival and Childrens Book Festivals, a monthly cinema club and providing a home for weekly community groups.
  3. Bristol-based Papadeli, which has a well-established reputation for incredible cakes and superb takeaway dishes, cooked on site. The deli also stocks a selection of foods from local producers and further across Europe and claims one of the best cheese counters in the city.
  4. Cavanagh & Baker, The Island Made Emporium at Shanklin, Isle of Wight stocks everything from fine arts to country wines, with everything in store coming from within the 25-mile radius of the island, reducing its carbon footprint.
  5. For The Love Of The North in Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear claims to be the only shop that brings together many of the creative talents from within the North East. The artists it works with often have no other outlet to sell their products except online & it offers customers the chance to see the artwork up close.
  6. Gemz By Emz in Romford, Essex specialises in personalised jewellery and gifts, engraved with the photo, handwriting, text and even pregnancy scan of your choice. It also creates stunning diamond dust glitter canvasses and personalised cushions.
  7. Home Bake in Southwell, Nottinghamshire is ideal if you want to bake or decorate a cake, selling a range of ingredients and decorations to help produce a real showstopper. The shop also introduced a #payit forward scheme – every 200th customer receives £5 to do whatever they want with – the only condition is they inform the shop what it was.
  8. Joco Interiors is gift shop in the heart of Nuneaton. It sells a broad range of home accessories and gifts for all occasions, including a large licensed product range including Harry Potter and Disney gifts, and a wellbeing station with aromatherapy ranges, incense and crystals.
  9. Jumbo Records in Leeds is an independent record shop that opened in 1971. It sells vinyl and CDs across most musical genres and encourages local musicians to bring their homemade CDs and records for them to sell.
  10. Kett’s Books in Wymondham, Norfolk is an independent community bookshop run by volunteers, who met as strangers in a pub in 2013 and agreed to get together to save the town’s bookshop from closing, choosing to run it toward a shared vision of community outreach, school visits, working with care homes, running programmes for children, and author visits.
  11. Moo Like A Monkey in Folkestone is children’s shop, which celebrates individualism, diversity and design. The shop space is also available for local events, from a sock-Caterpillar workshop to a social event for new mums who maybe feeling isolated.
  12. Mooch Gifts And Home, an independent Gift Retailer with stores in Stourport on Severn & Bewdley Worcestershire. Both stores collect for the West Midlands Air Ambulance and they also run several Shop Trails to encourage footfall around the local traders.
  13. Oliver’s Brighton, which describes itself as a one-of-a-kind experience for fans of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World. The shop sells over 500 officially licensed items ranging in price from £1 to £600, from sweets to collectibles.
  14. Richardsons Of Whitehaven in Cumbria offers a wide range of fine wines, rare vintage ports, hampers, gins and also roasts its own coffee beans in store. The shop is also the honorary Consulate office to the US Navy by a historical quirk.
  15. Rides On Air in Wallingford has a new store with over 100 bikes and accessories in stock and covering all disciplines from children’s bikes to adults including disabled cycles and the latest craze of eBikes.
  16. Small Stuff in Sheffield specialises in ethical and eco-conscious lifestyle products and clothing for small children. It also collaborates with other local businesses by hosting story time, workshops and events all led by other small businesses in the community.
  17. Stationery Supplies, a destination for stationery addicts in Marple, Cheshire, sells an eclectic mix of beautiful stationery, greetings cards and gifts, from colouring products suitable for 1 year olds through to a birthday card for a 100 year old! They pride themselves on giving friendly knowledgeable service and advice on all manner of stationery products.
  18. Tea Traders in Camarthen is an award winning specialist teashop, cafe and tea retailer. It stocks over 100 loose-leaf teas, as well as quality tea wares, tea gifts, and Welsh crafts. The cafe also provides training and employment for young adults with learning disabilities.
  19. The Hours Cafe Bookshop & Deli in Brecon describes itself as “a tranquil, bijou sanctuary of lovingly curated books & treats nestled in a building affectionately referred to by locals and visitors as ‘the wonky green shop’.”
  20. The Little Cheesemonger is a cheese shop set in the historic castle village of Rhuddlan in North Wales. It stocks cheese from tiny local producers like a seasonal Ewe’s raw milk cheese that melts like an ice cream at room temperature, right over to nutty hard cheese with aged crunchy bits from sandstone caves in Switzerland.
  21. The Naked Pantry New Forest in New Milton, Hampshire is a Zero Waste plastic free shop where you can bring your own containers to refill with all your kitchen pantry items, household cleaning products, personal care items, and toiletries.
  22. The Orry Mill is an independent contemporary yarn shop located in Eaglesham on the South side of Glasgow, which runs regular classes and workshops for crafters. It showcases a modern take on the old crafts of knitting and crocheting.
  23. The Recycled Candle Company in Exeter, which sells candles made from recycled wax fragranced with their own bespoke scents created in collaboration with a UK-based French perfumier.
  24. Whalley Warm & Dry, a family-run outdoor shop in Whalley, Lancashire with a multi-award-winning Specialist Boot Fitting & Customisation Service in store.
  25. Winyl, an independent record store in Manningtree, Essex specialising in new, special edition vinyl and some vintage vinyl that has been cleaned and graded. It also stocks a range of wine, beer and juice. The wine is mostly organic and vegan and is served by the glass or bottle to drink in or take away.

Last year’s winner was Bira member The Mainstreet Trading Company, read their story here.

The Excellence in Housewares Awards 2019 Winners Announced

Excellence in Housewares 2019

Bira members amongst the winners at the 2019 Excellence in Housewares Awards

Organised by Progressive Housewares magazine in conjunction with Bira, the Awards night took place at the Royal Lancaster London where nearly 400 movers and shakers of the housewares industry gathered to celebrate into the early hours. Awards host was popular televised comedian Stuart Goldsmith.

In what was a notably lively event, celebrating two decades of Excellence in Housewares, the annual gathering included great fun and surprises including the return of popular highlights such as the KitchenAid Cocktail Station, popcorn from Smart Worldwide, the glitter station, and the classic casino tables – this year sponsored by Exposé Travel who are offering the winner a trip to Chicago.

Jo Howard, editor of Progressive Housewares and commented: “The 20th Excellence in Housewares Awards night has been a wonderful night in recognising hard work, creativity, innovation and determination for housewares suppliers and retailers.”

Rob Willis, publishing director of Progressive Housewares and director / co-owner of agreed, saying; “This was a real coming-together of industry, and it’s clear that the sector unites to celebrate their achievements as a collective – which is exactly the spirit to have, especially in tough trading climates.”

The winners of the Excellence in Housewares Awards 2019 are:

Retail Employee of the Year: Eamonn Ferry, Home Improvements Business Manager, Leekes Retail

Most Promising Newcomer: Chef’s Ware

Excellence in Direct Retailing: Lakeland

Excellence in Retail Training: Borough Kitchen

Excellence in Retail Display: Independent: Woodbridge Kitchen Company

Excellence in Retail Display: Multiple or Department Store: Morleys Group

Excellence in Retailer Initiative: Potters Cookshop

Excellence in Non-Specialist Multiple Retailing: Dobbies Garden Centres

Excellence in Specialist Retailing (Multiple and Large Independents): Lakeland

Best Department Store: Independent: Jarrold Department Store

Best Department Store: Multiple Branch or Group Member: Elys of Wimbledon

Bira Cookshop and Housewares Retailer of the Year: Prep & Richard Dare

gia UK Winner 2018-2019: Jarrold Department Store


Excellence in Cookware: GreenPan Featherweights from The Cookware Company

Top Tool or Gadget Award: Hip CleanStraw from Auteur

The Plugged-In Award: Veritable Smart Arctic White Indoor Garden from Haus

Cutting Edge Award: Signature Book & Prism Knife Block Sets from Robert Welch Designs

Excellence in Homewares: Stojo Brooklyn and Stojo Mini range from Auteur

Top of the Table Award: Bee Happy from David Mason Design

Innovation in Product Award: Veritable CONNECT Garden from Haus

The Eco Award: If You Care from Eddingtons

Icon Award: Wüsthof Classic Knives from Haus

Excellence in Innovation Award: Dexam

Excellence in Marketing Award: Le Creuset UK

Excellence in Service Award: Horwood Homewares

Honorary Achievement Award: Philip Hart


**Press release provided by Progressive Housewares magazine

Xmas appeal by RDT charity


Got any excess stock you don’t need?

Why not donate it to trade charity Rainy Day Trust to help its annual Christmas appeal? Or perhaps you can put an RDT collecting tin by your till for customers to chip in?

Every year the charity sends out a hand-written Christmas card and a little food hamper to its most vulnerable and isolated beneficiaries. This small gesture makes a huge difference to them at what can be a very lonely time of year; it shows that someone cares about them. RDT also is often asked to help with heating bills as the cold weather bites and makes payments directly to energy suppliers on behalf of its beneficiaries.

These small actions cost the charity around £11,000 each year. “We would be incredibly grateful if Bira members would help us raise this money by placing a collection tin by their tills, asking their customers to help us out,” said Bryan Clover, the charity’s CEO. “Also, if you have stock that you can donate to us, either to pass on directly to our beneficiaries or that we can sell in the run up to Christmas, that would be fabulous.”

To request a collecting tin or to discuss making a donation, email

Bira Legal offer expert advice in simple 5-part guide

One2one enhanced legal advice through Bira Legal (Ellis Whittam)

Experts in Employment Law and HR are providing retailers with five simple and straightforward guides to key topics affecting independent retailers.

The guides are provided by Ellis Whittam, the team of lawyers behind the Bira Legal service, to provide information and support to retail business owners and staff who are having difficulties in the common areas listed below:

  • Employment Tribunals
  • Disciplinaries
  • Grievances
  • Contracts of employment
  • Holiday entitlement

Topics have been selected based on the top subjects Bira members use their unlimited Bira Legal service for.

All retailers can sign up to receive the guides, click below to find out more.

Find out more

Bira Direct launch a new rebate scheme allowing members to benefit from the busiest buying period of the year

Bira Direct Rebates

Bira Direct launches new rebate scheme allowing members to benefit at the busiest buying period of the year

Bira Direct, the buying group for members of the British Independent Retailers Association, is excited to announce a new rebate scheme, which allows members the opportunity to receive a one per cent rebate on their spend between October and December 2019.

Managing Director of Bira Direct, Jeff Moody, said: “We are delighted to be able to reward our members for their loyalty to our buying group. For the first time we are also offering the rebate to any new users of Bira Direct too, so it’s a great opportunity to sign up and start using us to do your seasonal buying.”

To qualify for the rebate members must increase their spend between October and December 2019 when compared to the same period in 2018. This opportunity is unique as not only do members who are already using the service benefit, but new users can qualify for a rebate too.

Bira Direct users that want an easy way to increase their spend without drastically changing their purchasing habits, can download and compete a supplier switch form in just a few minutes. The form needs to be returned to and the team at Bira Direct will switch over any suppliers that they can beat terms with, and arrange invoicing through Bira Direct.

In 2019 Bira Direct has brought on over 50 new suppliers that offer competitive terms, reduced minimum order values and 30 days end of month credit when invoicing through Bira Direct. They have also made it easy for members to discover new suppliers and product categories allowing them to build their product ranges via the online supplier directory.

If you are a Bira member that’s never used Bira Direct before, a quick call to the credit control team on 0800 028 0245 is all it takes to open an account. The only condition of earning the rebate is that you must pay to Bira Direct terms which can be found here.


Calls for Andrea Leadsom to provide clarity on what Brexit means for the workforce

What Brexit means for the workforce

Bira has joined a number of associations, writing to Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, calling for greater clarity on what Brexit will mean for the UK workforce.


With many independent businesses, both within Bira’s membership and also the British Agricultural Garden Machinery Association’s (BAGMA) relying heavily on foreign workers, the suggested £30,000 minimum salary threshold would seriously damage their ability to employ these workers.


The letter states, “Like many industries, we employ foreign workers in roles across the skill spectrum, as well as in temporary and seasonal roles. We would urge the Government to revise down the suggested £30,000 minimum salary threshold for skilled workers coming to the UK to enable our businesses to continue to thrive. We would also suggest that the proposed short-term route set out in the Immigration White Paper is extended to at least three years and allows migrants to switch to the skilled visa if eligible. This would ensure our industries are able to prosper and continue to grow.


“An Australian style point system has also been proposed by the Government and this would clearly impact on our respective industries due to the kinds of workforce we are reliant upon. We would welcome clarity as soon as possible on how the government intends to implement this.”


Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said: “The uncertainty being caused by the Brexit turmoil is causing real concern for retailers in many ways. The task of retaining and recruiting employees in retail is already very difficult and the changes due to Brexit will make it even harder. We need a common-sense approach to support independent retail businesses.”


See what else Bira is asking from the Government here.

Dickies Announce Price increase for October

Williamson-Dickies Logo bira direct banner news

Dickies have released the below letter informing customers of a price increase from 7th October 2019.

Dear Customer,

As a business, we have always tried to keep price increases to a minimum; however, significant macro-enconomic factors (currency devaluation, raw material cost increases, higher labour rates and enhanced investments into our business have all contributed to the need for us to increase prices. These new prices will be applicable from 7th October 2019.

We remain confident that the Dickies brand, through the stewardship of the VF Corporation, will continue to be a profitable partner of choice for your workwear and safety footwear business.

We thank you for your continued support.

Yours sincerely

Rob Haines

UK Sales Director
Williamson-Dicke Europe Ltd

Businesses come together to urge business rates inquiry results

Treasury Select Committee

Bira has joined forces with a number of bodies, including the BRC and Association of Convenience Stores, to urge the Treasury Select Committee to release the findings of its inquiry into business rates.

With several of the MPs involved in the inquiry moving into roles within Government, the inquiry has been held up and there has been no indication of when the report will be released or who will now Chair the Committee.

The letter states:

With high streets and town centres facing enormous challenges, and business looking to Government for support at a time when concerns over the UK’s departure from the European Union are hindering investment and confidence, we believe that it could not be a more important time for the Committee to publish its views on the operation of the business rates system. The Committee’s recommendations carry great weight with Ministers and officials, and it is vital that, notwithstanding the debate over Brexit, crucial domestic policy issues are not obscured. The prompt publication of a report would mean that it could be taken into consideration as part of the government’s Autumn Budget considerations – we ask that the Committee gives serious consideration to finalising and publishing the report into the impact of business rates as a matter of urgency.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said: “Independent retailers continue to tell me that business rates are causing real concerns for them. Our members have told the Treasury Select Committee directly that reform is needed and it would be very disappointing if the opportunity for real change was missed. The report must be published with clear recommendations for reform, and soon.”

The Treasury Select Committee visited Bira’s offices in May to hear from retailers about how business rates have affected their businesses.


Tell us how business rates are affecting your business by contacting

Or find out more about our lobbying work here.

Horwood acquires EcoSouLife

Horwoods | Bira Direct | EcoSouLife

Bristol based housewares company Horwood Homewares has acquired Australian environment housewares supplier EcoSouLife.

EcoSouLife are an environmentally conscious company on a mission to deliver guilt-free disposable and reuseable alternatives to plastic and foam. By using agricultural waste combined with the newest technologies, they have been able to create affordable and accessible products that are kinder to the environment. The EcoSouLife brand will become part of Horwood Life, a subsidiary of Horwood Homewares, which will focus on driving sales, distribution and awareness across all relevant sales channels globally.

This exciting new chapter provides great opportunities to expand the existing product ranges, increase  exposure for the brand and demonstrate both Horwood and EcoSouLife’s commitment to this fast-growing and ever-so-important category.

Boarting a wide range of both reusable and disposable eco-friendly product solutions for the home and outdoor living (some of which are exciting, first-to-market formulations), Horwood Life will continue the great work EcoSouLife has conducted over recent years in creating compelling consumer propositions which are sustainable conscious, practical and affordable.

Furthermore, EcoSouLife’s product portfolio dovetails well with Horwood’s Smidge brand, which was launched earlier this year and focuses on bringing to market products that offer an alternative to single-use plastic, while also featuring compelling designs and great functionality.

Horwood Homewares’ Managing Director Rob Jones comments: ‘We’re delighted to be working alongside the entire EcoSouLife team. Their passion, experience and knowledge of this category will help to continue create and a develop product solutions in an area of extensive consumer interest and importance.’

Horwood Homewares

An innovative new app introducing personalisation in store from JVL

Bira Direct supplier JVL launch an innovative new app which enables customers to order their own personalised designs in store. The app features direct dispatch and personalisation on selected products and is designed to make ordering simple and convenient. Other benefits of introducing the app into your store include the ability to scan bar codes, access to favourites and shopping list options. The app can be used on mobile, tablet or desktop offering flexibility within your shop.

The range of personalised products includes Stencilled and Laser Coir, Stencilled Coir and Personalised car mats.

For more information, including how to order just visit the supplier page below.

JVL Homeware Solutions

New Bira Direct Supplier Einhell Launch an Unmissable Introductory Offer

Einhell introductory offer

FREE – 2.0ah battery twin pack with every order over £300

Introducing Einhell UK, a subsidary of Einhell AG are one of the worlds leading suppliers of handheld power tools and garden tools. Now available through Bira Direct.

Einhell are famous for German designed quality with exclusive innovative modern designs that meet and exceed the expectations of the DIY enthusiast and trade professionals.

Einhell are market leaders in cordless power tools offering one of the widest one battery fits all platforms with the Power X-Change range. One battery across all power tools and garden.

Order with confidence as all Einhell products come with a 2 year guarantee backed by a comprehensive after sales service with spare parts and accessories available 24 hours a day.

To take advantage of this offer you’ll need to invoice through Bira Direct. If you’re a Bira member who isn’t currently using Bira Direct call the accounts team on 0800 028 0245 to notify them that you would like to set up a Bira Direct buying account.

Find out more about new supplier Einhell by following the link below.




Marina B offer 10% off all opening orders through Bira Direct

Marina B | Birthday Card | Bira Direct

Marina B Designs was founded in the picturesque village of Great Bowden in the heart of Leicestershire. Producing stationery, notecards, greeting cards, prints and even ceramics.

These hand drawn designs are available to Bira members with a 10% discount for any opening orders placed through Bira Direct.

Marina B Designs provide card and card-related products that are produced as sustainably as possible. All products are all made with love and in the UK free of production shortcuts.

For the latest terms and pricelist click here.

Order online at email tel 01858 434462


Marina B



Scott Brothers are the exclusive UK supplier for the new Honeywell dehumidifier

SDA Bira Direct

Leading UK appliance and Bira Direct supplier Scott Brothers are proud to be exclusive stockists of the Honeywell TP-Compact 12 litre portable dehumidifier.


The TP-Compact offers a durable and portable solution to household mould and damp issues in small sized rooms including bedrooms, dens, bathrooms – even conservatories prone to condensation during the winter months.


The team at Scott Brothers pride themselves on providing the best quality products at a competitive price teamed with exemplary customer service. At an RRP price of just £149.99 the Honeywell TP-Compact is no exception and comes with a 2-year warranty and is available for next day UK delivery. Scott Brothers also offer a full service to wholesalers UK-wide which can include product training.


The TP-Compact is the latest addition to their Honeywell range of air coolers and air conditioning units. With this new addition to the range, Scott Brothers are able to react quickly to our fast-changing UK weather, varying from record breaking temperatures to record rainfall levels.


The TP-Compact is designed for convenience with user-friendly features and portability, with smooth-gliding castor wheels and convenient tip handles to move the unit from room to room with ease. The continuous drain option further increases flexibility by allowing for continuous draining of the condensed water.

Key Features
2.5L Water Capacity
Auto Restart Feature
Easy Mobility
Full Tank Alert System with Automatic Shut Off


Product Dimensions(mm): 288 (W) x 198 (D) x 509 (H)

Net Weight: 9.8kg

Control Panel: Digital

Sound Level: 43 dbA

Power Consumption: 215 Watts

Water Capacity: 2.5 Litres

Dehumidification Capacity: 12 Litres / 24 hours


HoneywellTP Mini | Bira Direct


Scott Brothers will be represented on the Honeywell stand at IFA Berlin 2019 on September 6th to 11th where the Honeywell TP-Compact will be showcased.


For more information and to place an order call 01477 539500 or email and quote: BIRA

Mica joins as a new division of the British Independent Retailers Association

Mica joins the British Independent Retailers Assocation

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), the UK’s largest trade association for independent retail stores, has today confirmed an investment in Mica, which will see the co-operative group join the association as a new division.

Mica and it’s 50+ hardware, DIY and garden stores across the UK have longstanding reputation for fierce independence and excellent local service.

Bira will become a major shareholder in Mica, cementing Bira’s position as the UK’s leading trade association representing the independent retail sector.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO said “This is an exciting time for Bira and Mica employees, members and suppliers, as this new partnership not only increases our influence in the corridors of Westminster, but also forms the largest Hardware & DIY buying group available for independent store owners.  The move also means Mica members will benefit from the wider range of support services that Bira has been providing to its members for over 120 years.”

Jeff Moody, MD of Bira Direct said “We’re excited to be joining forces with Mica, who bring 20 years of experience in consumer marketing. We expect both Mica and Bira members to benefit through wider access to more suppliers at preferential rates that allow independent retailers to compete with the retail giants.”

Michael Ball, Mica CEO says “I am proud to have led Mica as an independent retailer group to our best ever year in 2018 but agree with our members that we are strongest working together, especially in these challenging times for the high street. Mica and Bira have the same vision, to ensure the high street can continue to thrive. Mica’s continued co-operative status as a division of Bira, will retain its identity and heritage. It’s a real win-win for members, suppliers and high-street consumers.  The agreement, which was ratified at an EGM of Mica members yesterday, will see Mica relocate to new offices in Birmingham after a short transition.

Mica and Bira have both consulted with employees and members to provide assurance that there will be a continuity of management, and that this arrangement brings with it new, exciting opportunities for members, suppliers and the wider Bira family.

Exclusive Bira benchmarking index available to all Bira members – where do you rank?

social index

The Bira index, which benchmarks the social media performance of all Bira members, has just been made available to all Bira members.

As an exclusive benefit to Bira members, the Bira index helps our members benchmark their social media performance against all other Bira members, allowing all members to benefit and learn from each other.

The index was created by Maybe* in partnership with Bira. Maybe* is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered platform that helps businesses and organisations improve their results on social media.

With case studies showing increases in footfall and sales of up to 20% with Bira member Keith Scarrott, the Maybe* platform, and the Bira index, is a benefit all members should take advantage of.

Bira members have unlimited free access to the Bira index and extensive social media training and webinars provided by Maybe*.

We know that an increase in social media activity is linked to increases in sales and footfall. We’ve proven time and time again that by engaging with the right content on social media businesses can see tangible improvements in their results.

 We use AI to remove the guesswork from social media. Our platform prioritises the content you should be engaging with everyday, making it easy for everyone to see results and grow their audience.Polly Barnfield OBE, Founder and CEO of Maybe*

The index is created by measuring the daily output of social media activity, engagement, and audience size of each Bira member. It looks at activity on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Updated every day, any Bira member can log into the Maybe* platform and see where they rank and how their position changes on a daily basis.

The index allows members to see the businesses who rank above and below them, and has links to those business’ social media feeds and websites. This allows all Bira members to learn from each other and share their successes.

Businesses in the top ten positions in the Bira index today include Cooks of Trentham, Maison By Emma Jane, The Big Sheep Shop, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd, and Natural Health. The ranking of a business on social media is determined by their activity  across all channels and their follower numbers.

Over the coming months as more members join the index we look forward to sharing how their social media performance is impacting their businesses.

social index
The Bira Index

In addition to the Bira index and the unlimited free training, Maybe* also offers Bira members the ability to see who is talking about them online, to see what people are saying and the sentiment of those comments, and – through the power of AI – prioritise which posts and content you should respond to first. This is all available through the Maybe* dashboard, which all Bira members can access.

social index
The Bira member dashboard

Maybe* is a platform that is tailored to all levels of social media experience. For beginners, their training will help you set up your accounts and get started. For intermediate users, Maybe* will help you tailor your content and grow your audience. And for experienced users, Maybe* taps into conversions beyond those about your business and helps your find new customers, grow your audience, and increase your engagement.

Bira members can log into the Maybe* platform today to see how well they are performing from the members’ section of the Bira website.

Sign up to Maybe* today

New Bira Direct Supplier Media-Depot

Media-Depot | zero plastic product line up | Bira Direct

Bira Direct are excited to announce the launch of new supplier Media-Depot – market leaders in electrical and mobile accessories. Specialising in working with independent UK retail outlets, stocking brands such as Energizer, Duracell, Casio, JVC and Sony. Media-Depot also stock products with zero plastic packaging. Stocking products in zero plastic packaging is something small that retailers can do reduce the impact of single use plastics in the environment.

Product catagories include:

  • Audio
  • Batteries
  • Calculators
  • Computer accessories
  • Electrical accessories
  • External memory
  • Mobile and tablet accessories
  • Recordable media
  • USB media

One of their main benefits is that they operate on a sale or return basis, meaning you can try new lines in your shop without any risk. You’ll also be supported with a dedicated account manager and on site visits from the team.

These products are an ideal impulse purchase and would suit a number of different types of business from newsagents and hardware shops to gift shops.

To view the price list and your exclusive terms just click here.


Villeroy & Boch launch new Metro Chic collection

Villeroy and Boch Metro Chic

Signature Collection: MetroChic

The MetroChic collection stands for timeless elegance. The geometric decoration brings the classic colours of Black and Gold onto pure white premium bone porcelain, its varying compositions lending an individual touch. The new MetroChic collection is a statement for those with an urban, cosmopolitan style. The striking design, inspired by Art Deco, gives each MetroChic piece its own distinct look and each individual product allows for endless personalized table arrangements. Round shapes harmonise with clear, cylindrical contours, deep black lines with fine splashes of gold.

MetroChic is fired using the in-glazed process which allows the designs to sink deeply into the glaze. As a result, the pattern is particularly well protected. This innovative technology for precious metals ensures dishwasher resistance and a special longevity of the high-quality decoration. The MetroChic design also consists of a thick 20 carat gold coating, making the collection truly one of a kind.

Matching High-Quality Gifts

In addition to classic tableware such as plates, cups and bowls, the MetroChic collection also consists of high-quality gifts, including an etagere, a vase and a lantern with translucent biscuit porcelain – perfect for discerning individuals who appreciate quality and stylish elegance.


Premium Bone Porcelain, Dishwasher-safe.

To see the latest terms and price list available through Bira Direct visit the supplier page here.

QSM Q2 2019 – Spring sales fail to shine

qsm q2

Sales were up for Cookshop & Housewares, Floor Coverings, Beds & Soft Furnishings and Books & Toys, Music, Computers/Telecoms independent retailers between April and June 2019, but all other sectors have seen a drop.

The overall picture from Bira’s exclusive Quarterly Sales Monitor (QSM) for the second quarter of 2019 is one of disappointment, with the vast majority of the figures showing a decline when compared to the previous quarter and Q2 2018. Only three out of the twelve sectors surveyed reported a positive performance during the quarter, with nine out of twelve showing a decline when compared to Q2 2018. Overall, 41.07% of respondents reported a higher performance for Q2 which is down significantly on Q1 2019 (51.75%) and Q2 2018 (51.55%). The overall performance average for the quarter shows a fall of -2.94% for retailers, compared to the same period last year.

Cookshop & houseware sales were higher for the second quarter of the year, with the sector seeing a +2.41% higher performance against Q2 last year. The poor housing market coupled with a reluctance to buy before Brexit may have led to higher sales of furniture, floor coverings, beds and soft furnishing products as respondents for the sector reported an improvement of +2.11% when compared Q2 last year (-2.51%).

The worst performing sector in the QSM was Gifts, Glass, China, Jewellery, Accessories and Luggage which was down -6.75% on Q2 2018. This is the second quarter in a row that the sector has dropped as respondents in Q1 reported a performance of -5.07%. Other struggling sectors include pet product stores and cards, stationery, crafts and hobby store retailers, which were both down by -5.4%.

East Anglia was the best performing region with retailers being +1.32% up on Q2 last year. This represents a great recovery for the area as retailers in the region reported a performance of -1.21% in Q1. Retailers in Scotland and the South West have continued to struggle, showing declines of -6.74% and -4.82% respectively. This is a worrying sign as both regions had a poor Q1. Generally, it has been a disappointing quarter overall for the remaining regions with all reporting a decline in sales.

It is clear from respondents that increases to wages have not translated into greater spending amongst consumers and as such, it has led to 57.14% of respondents feeling anxious about the year ahead. This coupled with ongoing Brexit uncertainty, two years after the result, is still clearly having an impact with 64.73% of retailers facing modest margin pressures, due to a weaker Pound as a result. Ongoing issues such as business rates, rising rents, parking and online selling are still concerns for independent retailers.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO said: “The latest figures from the second QSM of 2019 reflect a disappointing second quarter for independent businesses, after what was a positive start to 2019. To see only 41.07% of respondents have reported a higher performance average and to see an overall drop of -2.94% for retailers is worrying and reflective of the tough testing times retailers are currently facing.

An increase in wages has not translated into greater consumer spending and the ongoing Brexit uncertainty is putting off consumers and businesses from buying. Retailers are being forced to prepare for a post-Brexit future without any indication of what that future is, and as such they are unable to focus their time on important factors such as pricing and improving customer experiences. With a new Prime Minister now in place, it is crucial that the Government finds a solution to Brexit that works for independent businesses as we head into the busiest trading period of the year.

As always, Bira will continue to fight the corner for independent businesses across the UK and I encourage all members to complete our surveys, to help us do this.”

About the QSM
We run the Quarterly Sales Monitor four times a year and along with the report, it is the only survey of its kind that reflects the independent retail industry in the UK. The report features full analysis from the survey as well as all member comments. All reports are then used to influence the media and Government through our Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee (LPAC), with all participants receiving a copy of the results.

If you are a member not receiving our survey emails, contact the membership team to sign up to our member communications list which includes survey emails as well as updates on important industry news, member services, events and exhibitions.

More on the Quarterly Sales Monitor

Bira’s priorities for the new Prime Minister

prime minister

Following Boris Johnson’s rise to Prime Minister, The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) is challenging the Government to resolve some of the ongoing issues that are burdening independent businesses, in order to ensure the future of our high streets.

We are urging the new Prime Minister to:

  1. Find a Brexit solution that works for independent businesses. We need a pro-business Brexit that ensures an inclusive deal and allows for a transition period. According to figures from our latest Quarterly Sales Monitor (QSM), 64.73% of retailers are facing modest margin pressures due to a weaker Pound as a result of Brexit, and the uncertainty has crippled business and consumer confidence with 57.14% of retailers feeling anxious about the year ahead. A no-deal Brexit would do nothing to ease margin pressure or increase confidence.
  2. Make the business rates discount permanent. The current two-year discount available to retailers (for a business with a rateable value of up to £51,000) is a decent start, but to ensure a level playing field, the retail discount needs to be made permanent. This would continue to ease some of the costs on retailers, meaning they would be able to put more back into their businesses.
  3. Encourage local councils to provide more free and accessible parking in town centres. Local councils need to review their strategies and make more free parking available. Too many town centres are suffering due to the cost of parking, which is preventing consumers from visiting their high streets. It is too easy for the public to take advantage of the free parking offered by supermarkets and out of town retail centres, and as such high street footfall is being decimated.

Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre, said:

“With three months to go until we leave the EU, time is of the essence for the new Prime Minister. Anxiousness is at an all-time high, confidence has hit rock-bottom and it is severely affecting independent businesses. 91.96% of Bira members are expecting cost prices increases, whether modest or significant, as a result of Brexit and this will only add to the drop in footfall. Without a pro-business Brexit that includes a deal, independent retailers will not be able to compete, and it would lead to more business closures. It’s essential that our high streets remain thriving and attractive options for consumers.

“Bira have already successfully campaigned for a 30% reduction in business rates for the smallest retailers but now the Prime Minister needs to take action to ensure the retail discount is made permanent. Many retailers will have become reliant on this reduction and to implement their rates again in 2020 could be devastating to their business, especially when they have so many other increasing costs including rising wages, pensions increases and the implementation of Making Tax Digital.

“I truly believe one of the greatest things about being independent is their ability to adapt to changing trends, unlike the bigger retailers. This gives independent retailers an edge and we are seeing lots of our members diversifying to allow them to offer products and services that shoppers need to come to the high street for and can’t just buy online. Whilst we know town centres need to change and develop, retail should absolutely still form a part of that. Independent retailers keep money in the local community, they provide jobs and are often the only contact some people have.

“Swift action from the Prime Minister is now needed on these issues to ensure the future of our high streets.”

We’d like to know what else you want our new Prime Minister to look at to support independent retail businesses. Contact the editorial team to have your voice heard.

Contact the editorial team

Members nominated for Excellence in Housewares Awards

Excellence in Housewares 2019

Following industry-wide nominations from both suppliers and retailers, plus a day-long panel meeting to analyse and debate the housewares retail sector, the finalists for the Excellence in Housewares Awards 2019 retail categories have now been announced and Bira members are in the running. and Progressive Housewares’ editor, Jo Howard enthused: “We are thrilled to present an inspirational line-up of finalists from across the housewares retail spectrum – reflecting how retailers are rising to challenges with their creativity, energy and outstanding practices.” Jo added: “We’re looking forward to celebrating the fantastic achievements of these finalists at The Excellence in Housewares Awards night on October 2.”

This year marks the 20th Excellence in Housewares Awards, organised by Progressive Housewares in conjunction with Bira Cookshop & Housewares and widely recognised as the industry’s ‘Oscars’. The finalists are the result of the industry-wide poll of housewares suppliers (reflecting on retailers’ approach and achievements over the last year) along with self-nominations and submissions in certain categories, which culminated in the Retail Validation and Judging Day.

The winners will be announced at the Excellence in Housewares Awards Night taking place at The Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on October 2. Tickets and tables can be purchased online.

One retail winner will also become the UKgia (Global Innovation Award) winner for 2019/2020 and represent the UK’s retailing excellence at next year’s gia celebrations during Chicago’s The Inspired Home Show (March 14-17 2020).

Excellence in Housewares Awards 2019 – Retail Category Finalists

Retail Employee of the Year 2019
Fatima Ait-Hammou, store manager, Richard Dare, London
Connie Bishop, sales advisor, Beales, Yeovil
Cynthia Cornes, sales advisor, Fenwick Colchester
Louisa Doyle, sales associate, Borough Kitchen
Eamonn Ferry, home improvements business manager, Leekes
Lucy Richards, manager, The Kitchen Range, West Wickham

Most Promising Newcomer:
Bake, Exeter
Brambles Cookshop, Audlem
Chef’s Ware, Hastings
Cook’s Boutique, Letchworth
Treacle George, Tetbury
Wooden Spoon The Cookshop, Derby

Excellence in Retail Training:
Borough Kitchen, London
Fenwick Group
Harts of Stur
Elphicks, Farnham
Jarrold, Norwich

Excellence in Retail Display – Independent:
Borough Kitchen, London
Divertimenti, London
Garsons Garden Centre, Esher and Titchfield
Potters Cookshop, Hockley
The Kitchen Range, Market Harborough
Woodbridge Kitchen Company, Woodbridge

Excellence in Retail Display – Multiple or Department Store
Bakers & Larners of Holt
Bradbeers, Romsey
Morleys Group
Philip Morris & Son, Hereford
Wardens of Newtonards

Excellence in Retailer Initiative:
Bakers & Larners of Holt for 1940’s Weekend
Borough Kitchen, London for Made in Britain
Harts of Stur for Centenary Celebrations
Potters Cookshop, Hockley for Community Eco-Warriors
The Kitchen Range, West Wickham for Win This Window
Woodbridge Kitchen Company for Bake-Off ‘Sweetstake’

Excellence in Specialist Retailing – Multiples and Large Independents:
Abraxas, Weedon, Rugby, Northampton and Banbury
Art of Living, Banstead, Cobham and Reigate
Borough Kitchen, London
House UK
Lords At Home, London and Chorleywood

Best Department Store – Independent:
Dawsons, Skipton and Clitheroe
Harrods, London
Jarrolds, Norwich
Manns of Cranleigh
Philip Morris & Son, Hereford
Vincent Davies, Haverfordwest

Best Department Store – Multiple Branch or Group Member:
Bentalls, Kingston
Elys, Wimbledon
Fenwick, Brent Cross
Fenwick, Colchester
John Lewis & Partners, Leeds
Selfridges, Oxford Street

Bira Cookshop & Housewares Retailer of The Year:
Lawsons, Devon
Lords at Home, Greater London
Peppercorn, Llandeilo
Potters Cookshop, Hockley
Prep Cookshop and Richard Dare, North London
Trevor Mottram, Tunbridge Wells

Read more here.


Excellence in Housewares Awards 2019

Disappointing figures for the quarter

Quarterly Sales Figures

Our latest sales figures show an average fall of -2.94% for independent retailers compared to the same three months last year.

Scotland saw the sharpest fall in the UK compared to April, May and June in 2018. East Anglia was the only region reporting that sales had increased marginally, by an average of 1.32%.

The sector performing best was Cookshop and Housewares, seeing a 2.41% uplift, however Gifts, Glass, China, Accessories and Luggage saw the biggest fall of -6.75%, closely followed by Pet Product retailers and Cards, Stationery, Crafts and Hobbies both showing a -5.4% reduction in sales.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said:

“These results reflect the testing times independent retail is facing. However, independent business owners are nothing if not resilient and they will continue to fight and develop to save themselves. One of the greatest things about being independent is that they can be nimble and change quickly to adapt to changing trends, unlike the bigger retailers. This gives independent retailers an edge and we are seeing lots of our members diversifying to allow them to offer products and services that shoppers need to come to the high street for and can’t just buy online.”

See how retailers are combating the slump in Worcester here or watch the video below.

New Wine Club Available to Bira Members

Wine Club Berkmann Wines Bira Direct Antinori Range

Bira Direct is excited to announce the launch of a new wine club, available from Berkmann Wine Cellars. Members can benefit from an award-winning portfolio of over 2,500 wines and spirits from across the globe at trade prices.

Berkmann Wine Cellars have been supplying wines of outstanding quality character to the trade since 1964. This unique opportunity enables members to purchase wines and spirits for personal use through Bira Direct.

In addition to the wide range of wine and spirits available Berkmann wines are also proud winners of the Sommelier Wine Awards Great Value ‘Merchant of the Year’ in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017 & 2018.

Whether you enjoy a gin and tonic, a classic glass of champagne or want to try the newest trend of orange wine there really is an option for every palette.

To view the latest price list and to find out more Berkmann Wines just visit the supplier page here.

Employee claims rise for the second year running

employee tribunal

The latest round of Employee Tribunal statistics has now been released – giving employers a full year picture to compare against the year prior.

Broadly speaking, the findings are as expected, with the overall claims trajectory continuing in much the same way as it has been since employee tribunal fees were abolished back in 2017. While this claims culture is understandably concerning for employers, it’s nothing new. These latest statistics mainly serve to remind employers of the importance of taking proactive steps to minimise the risk of claims.

Volume of claims

The bottom line is that Employment Tribunal claims are up 26% year on year:

  • There were 27,916 single claim receipts lodged between April 2017 to March 2018.
  • There were 35,429 single claim receipts lodged between April 2018 to March 2019.

Unfortunately for employers, we’re still feeling the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap Employment Tribunal fees back in 2017. With it now easier than ever for disgruntled employees to bring a claim, it’s hardly surprising that we’re seeing these kinds of figures.

That said, it’s now almost two years since fees were abolished, and some may have expected the situation to have levelled out by now.

Types of claims

Sex discrimination has seen the biggest rise in claim numbers, from 5,522 in FY18 to 9,336 in FY19 – an increase of 69%.

At first glance, this seems to suggest that the #MeToo movement may have gained real traction. However, in reality, this figure is skewed by the receipt of over 2,700 sex discrimination claims in the Scottish Tribunal in August 2018. Take that out and sex discrimination claims are actually up 20%.

Other types of claim where numbers have risen include:

  • Breach of contract, up 15.07%;
  • Race discrimination, up 17.75%;
  • Unfair dismissal, up 19.97%;
  • Disability discrimination, up 24.54%; and
  • Redundancy (failure to inform and consult), up 35.76%.

Claims for age discrimination, equal pay and part-time workers regulations are down.


A total of 93,817 claims were disposed of (completed) in FY19. 9,383 went to hearing.

Of those:

  • 8,445 claims were successful (won by the employee).
  • Only 938 claims were successfully defended by the employer, putting the employer national average win rate at just 10%.

This highlights the importance of receiving professional support in order to increase your chances of success.

Where we’re headed

There’s still no sign of the number of claims slowing down – and no indication that this will change any time soon. Fees were introduced in July 2013, and in the 12 months prior to this, 53,487 single claims were received. This means there’s still potential for a further for a further 50% increase in claim numbers if we’re headed back to the kinds of claim levels we saw in the original pre-fee era.

Ellis Whittam successfully defended 82% of claims in FY19, meaning you’re over eight times more likely to win a Tribunal claim if advised by our experts.

For trusted legal advice on any employment matter, contact Bira Legal on 0345 450 0937 or email

Find out more about Bira Legal

Bira joins Down Your High Street to celebrate bricks and mortar retailers that trade online

Bira joins Down Your High Street to celebrate bricks and mortar retailers that trade online

Independent retailers came together last week at the OXO Tower in London to celebrate the ongoing success of the national online selling platform – Down Your High Street, alongside event organisers Network & Chill and partners The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira).

With workshop sessions from DYHS supporter Mark Hayes, stylist on ITVs Lorraine and a motivational talk from The Apprentice winner Sian Gabbidon, the event’s aim was to inspire retailers, encourage networking and to get a deeper understanding of the online platform, which now has 600 independent retailers trading on it.

Julie Holden, National Membership Manager at Bira said: “Down Your High Street is an ideal platform for our members and we are proud to work in partnership with them to provide an opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers to embrace online sales in a simple and affordable way. The fact that all traders on the platform must have a physical shop is very important to us. We want to support the high street whilst recognising the convenience factor for consumers and the need for retailers to respond to changes in the way people are shopping.”

Dan Whytock, CEO of Down Your High Street said: “As the co-founder of (and once upon a time a market trader), the relationship we have formed with Bira brings me great excitement as we are able to work with their 100+ years of retail supporting experience to make sure our independents are looked after and supported in the best way possible! In the current retail climate this is more important than ever before.

“Our relationship started with a common interest in driving awareness to the UK high street and we can proudly say that together we have now achieved that with our first joint success story. Artichoke Boutique in Swaffham signed up to Down Your High Street through Bira and went on to sell hundreds of products and gained TV exposure from it, producing a brand new revenue stream to help keep their shop open on the high street.

“We look forward to a long-term relationship with Bira supporting retailers all over the country.”

Bira member Sarah Simmonds, owner of Artichoke Ely attended the event. Sarah said: “I received an email from Bira which brought my attention to Down Your High Street and their promotional offer for Bira members. I signed up and in my first month on the platform our shop was featured on national TV and we achieved almost 350 online sales.

“My contact at DYHS has been very helpful and understands the entrepreneurship of owning a shop, so it allows us to creatively work together for on and offline sales.”

See the products featured on ITV’s Lorraine here. 

Bira’s session at the event, delivered by Bira approved service partner Maybe*, a social media listening and engagement platform, focussed on parking challenges, Brexit and business rates and looked at the differences in opinion on how these issues affect the high street between consumers and retailers. The findings of the research can be found here.

This insight, together with Bira’s national campaigns in support of topics which are impacting trade on the high street, can help retailers to make more informed choices about their own social and digital media content to ultimately increase footfall and drive sales.

Members of Bira can get a special offer of 5% commission, instead of the usual 15% when signing up to the Down Your High Street portal** here.

Bira members can also access preferential rates for the Maybe* platform here.

**5% commission available for Bira members that are new to Down Your High St only. 5% commission will be charged for the first 12 months after joining, after which commission will return to the standard 15%.

Tackling retail violence

Bira co-signs letter to the Government asking for action to prevent retail violence

Violence against staff is a huge problem for retail. Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show that around 115 workers are attacked daily.

Bira has co-signed a letter to the Government alongside other retail groups to persuade them that more needs to be done to prevent violence towards shop staff.

We have made the case for the Government to act on this issue through the stages of the Offensive Weapons Bill in Parliament, forcing the Home Office to issue a Call for Evidence on the issue which closed last week.

The letter outlines many of the key asks (such as a new offence of assaulting a retail worker) and pledges that the industry will do more to report crimes too.

If you have been a victim of violence in your shop, we’d like to hear from you about your experiences, to strengthen our cause. Email 


The full letter reads:


Dear Home Secretary, Lord Chancellor and Minister,

Action to Prevent Violence Towards Shop Staff

Retail is the largest single private employer in the UK, with roughly 3 million direct employees. Perhaps uniquely, it is woven into the fabric of each and every community and constituency in the country.

As an industry retail faces a range of challenges, but perhaps the most pressing and difficult is the rising tide of violence against retail workers (for the avoidance of doubt, including charity shop volunteers). The data are unanimous, highlighting a problem which has grown across the industry. The British Retail Consortium’s analysis highlights that 115 workers are attacked each and every day. The Association of Convenience Stores’ research estimates there were almost 10,000 incidents of violence in convenience stores in the last 12 months. USDAW’s work highlights that, on average, a shopworker is abused, threatened or assaulted 21 times a year – that is once a fortnight. According to research by the Charity Retail Association, one quarter of charity retailers report that incidents of violence against volunteers have increased in the past two years and nearly a third of charity retailers report that incidents of verbal abuse against volunteers have increased in the past two years. The Home Office’s own Commercial Victimisation Survey shows that retail sector consistently suffers several times more crime per premises than any other business sector surveyed.

The evidence multiple retail organisations are providing in response to the Call for Evidence, linked to other publications over past years, highlights one inescapable fact. Violence against retail colleagues is a hugely problematic and serious area of crime, with weapons, particularly knives, an increasingly significant problem. This Violence is commonly triggered by shopworkers delivering what the state asks of them: enforcing age restriction policies or refusing to serve intoxicated customers, or dealing with shop thieves.

The only conclusion is that there is a serious imbalance in the relationship between risk and reward for these criminals.

For us, it is the human angle that matters most. These are not victimless crimes. They impact on the skilled, passionate, determined individuals who make the industry such a vibrant place to work; their families and loved ones; the communities to which they contribute so much; and those who rely on the public services retail indirectly supports. Irrespective of whether they are volunteers or employees, work during the day or overnight, or from set retail premises or remotely, they deserve to be acknowledged and supported as victims of crime.

For the Government this must be seen as a considerable public policy challenge played out daily in every High Street, neighbourhood parade and village square.

This growth in violence has come despite record spending by retailers on crime prevention. Clearly a new approach is required, and we are writing to urge you to give effect to a range of recommendations, which are set out in more detail in the annexed paper. We will play our role, but need your consistent support and efforts to drive forward desperately needed reform. The key recommendations are:

• legislating for a specific new offence of assaulting a retail worker (including charity shop volunteers), giving them the same status as emergency workers. This visible and clear offer of support and protection will finally provide for effective sentencing responses and will help drive improved reporting;

• urgent work on the use of community disposals, looking in more depth and where and how they are used and culminating on appropriate guidance to support and appropriate response. This change will be rendered more necessary if plans to abolish short prison sentences further increase criminals perceived incentives to offend;

• inclusion of retail violence in the next iteration of the Strategic Policing Requirement and for Home Office Ministers to work with Police and Crime Commissioners to support inclusion in each and every Police and Crime Plan; and

• an immediate and fully funded HM Inspectorate of Policing thematic review of policing of retail violence, including attitudes to retail victims, response frameworks and relevant prioritisation. These will help identify the better performing forces and allow the less effective ones to learn much-needed lessons.

We remain absolutely committed to going even further to do our part. Across the industry, the record spending on crime prevention we spoke of earlier is increasingly focused on staff protection. Beyond that, we are leveraging the industry’s power to tackle the root causes of the symptoms we face, with the Shop Safe Alliance in Brixton shortly due to start an excellent example of our determination to resolve these issues and the development of training and guidance to help the smallest businesses.

We understand the importance of reporting more of the crimes we witness to police. Each undersigned retailer and representative body pledges to retain their focus on this area, to work to ensure that reporting within their organisation and to the police remains unencumbered. This will include greater use of the new Business Impact Statement and crime reporting guidance which we are grateful to the Home Office and National Business Crime Centre for publishing. We also ask the Home Office and senior police officers to ensure that, when reported, such crimes are recorded and reacted to as appropriately serious. No violent incident should be recorded as a simple shop theft and not attended rapidly.

Given the nature of the issues we have described, delay is not an option. There is no scope to kick the can down the road by waiting for a further consultation – the actions below must be agreed to, along with others which arise from the Call for Evidence, turned into a proper plan and delivered rapidly, co-ordinated through the National Retail Crime Steering Group.


Find out more about our policy and lobbying work here. 

£1million given to Councils for knife test purchasing

Knife sales

The Offensive Weapons Act has now received Royal Assent, which means it shouldn’t be long before it is law.

With the Local Government Association (LGA) saying that in some areas 60% of shops are selling knives illegally, it is time for retailers to sharpen up their policies and staff training.

The government has given £1million to Councils for test purchasing purposes, for both online and in store, so retailers should be prepared to be checked and have systems in place to prevent sales of knives to under 18s. Bira recommends a Challenge 25 system – like that used for the sale of alcohol.

One of the biggest changes that will be coming in, that retailers need to be aware of is that knives bought online will only be able to be delivered to over 18’s via a courier that offers age verification.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said: “We fully support responsible retailing of knives. These new regulations require two things- one is enforcement, especially where there is a perceived high risk. Secondly, the education of retailers and consumers is vital, not only in terms of knowing their obligations but also on the best way to enforce them.

“Bira has been and will continue to work with the Home Office to improve communications to retailers, to ensure they are fully aware of their responsibilities.

“We also believe that manufacturers play an important role in providing suitable packaging and labelling, that clearly shows the restrictions on the purchase of knives and other bladed items.”

*** Please be aware that we reported in the July/August Bira membership magazine that this is already law. This is not the case, however it shouldn’t be long before it is, so we still recommend being prepared, especially if you take online orders, as it is still against the law to sell a knife to someone under the age of 18. ***

Meet your new National President

Bira National President, Howard Pullen

Howard Pullen of Howard Pullen Machinery in Loxwood, West Sussex succeeded Surinder Josan of All Seasons DIY, in Smethwick, West Midlands, as Bira National President at the Bira AGM on the 20th June.

Howard is the second member of the British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association (BAGMA), which is a part of the Bira family, after Bob Chapman of Bavenhill Mechanics, to head up Bira. Having spent 40 years in the farm machinery sector, he runs Howard Pullen Machinery Ltd which sells used agricultural and construction machinery mainly to export markets in Europe.

Howard said: “The volatility of the exchange rate is affecting businesses but a weak pound is beneficial to my business. I know this is probably not good for most Bira members who have had to put up their prices on imported goods. It’s not an easy time for retailers and I am looking forward to learning how Bira members are dealing with the situation.

“I’m extremely excited to get out and about meeting members and representing independent retailers and dealers where I can. This is a crucial time in retail and I intend to use my expertise and experience to support our association to the best of my ability.

He added: “It is a challenging and exciting time for Bira and its members. Making Bira Digital is clearly going to help members access our services easier and attract new members. An improved online presence and the use of social media for promotions does help increase footfall for members who can actively engage with their customers. It’s not for the faint hearted though and it is time-consuming, but those who are using it are clearly reaping the rewards.”

Speaking of his time as National President Surinder Josan said: “It’s been a pleasure and an honour to hold the position of National President since June last year. The proudest day in my life was on the 11th  September last year when I delivered the keynote speech about business rates in the Houses of Parliament to launch Bira’s Manifesto.”

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said: “I’m extremely grateful to the work that Surinder put in during his time as President. He really did embody the role, visiting members the length and breadth of the UK in order to talk to them about membership and report back to Bira. He has also been working hard to represent hardware members with the Home Office as discussions continue about hazardous substances.

“I have great respect for Howard and look forward to his Presidency and what he plans to do to support both our BAGMA and Bira members over the course of the next year.”

If you’d like to invite Howard to come and visit you, please contact Sue Howe –

Ten New Bira Direct suppliers and brands launch at Exclusively Housewares.

exclusively housewares new suppliers bira direct

This year at Exclusively Housewares (11-12th June, Business Design Centre London), ten new Bira Direct suppliers and brands are exhibiting; Captivate Brands, Eurosonic Group Limited, Fackelmann Brands, Fiskars, Daewoo, Hairy Bikers, ProchefMary Berry, Royal Doulton and Whitefurze. This is a great opportunity for members to take advantage of the “Exclusively Gift” voucher scheme and to open new accounts with Bira Direct.

Carnaby exclusively housewares bira direct exclusively housewares bira direct whitefurze bira direct exclusively housewares

Exclusive offers and new product launches from Bira Direct suppliers.

To add extra value, members are also eligible for exclusive offers and a first look at new product ranges from Bira Direct suppliers.

On stand EH341 Black + Blum are offering members an unmissable opportunity to spend their vouchers. In addition to the £100 “Exclusively Voucher”, you’ll receive a further £50 off for an order of £300+ or an additional £100 off for an order of £500+. This means if you placed an order with Black + Blum at the show, you’d only pay £150!

Dexam, on stand EH438, have a wide range of offerings at the show. This includes an exclusive offer for members who decide to spend their voucher at the stand. The Eco Pack and the Summer Garden Pack are complete collections of winning products discounted for Bira members. The stock up for less extended credit offer has been supercharged for the show. This consists of discounts of 10% off orders over £300 and 15% off orders over £500. And, what’s more all invoices will be due for payment on the 30th August.

On stand EH408 Amefa have a wide range of offers available. This includes 20% off selected cutlery and knife sets including the Laser and Advantage knife stands which has an integrated cookbook/tablet holder.

New Bira Direct supplier Whitefurze on stand EH305 offers Bira members an additional 20% off the space master range.

Connect Distribution will be exhibiting for the first time at Exclusively Electrical on stand EE50 and are excited to announce the are now officially Samsung’s appointed microwave distributor.

For the latest Bira Direct show offers visit the Bira stand EH457.

The “Exclusively Gift”

eh-voucher exclusively housewares bira direct

The “Exclusively Gift” enables members to exchange a voucher for £100 off any one order placed at the show with a minimum value of £300 (nett of vat) with any participating exhibitor. This is a great chance to open an account with a new supplier and still gain the same benefits of ordering through Bira Direct.

For members who haven’t received a voucher, please visit Bira on stand EH457 to collect one1. And remember, vouchers must be validated at the stand before they can be spent.

Click here to register for your show ticket. We hope to see you there. Have a great show!

1Standard Bira Direct T&C’s apply. Limited to one voucher per member.



BRC figures show retail sales slump but what does this mean for the independents?

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium today show a 2.7% slump in retail sales, the biggest dip in 24 years.

In response, Andrew Goodacre CEO of the British Independent Retail Association, Bira said: “The disappointing figures reported by the BRC are reflective of the challenging times retail faces as a whole. We saw encouraging figures for April, helped by Easter, but these figures show the brittle nature of consumer confidence and any uncertainty (such as Brexit) will result in less spending.

“Interestingly, whilst we can’t directly compare these figures, our own survey of independent retail businesses saw a slightly better first quarter for small businesses, with 51.75% of respondents reporting a higher performance for Q1, which is up on Q4 2018 (46.43%) and is a clear improvement on Q1 2018 (42.56%). We hope this positive start to the year for independent retail businesses will continue but as we know, nothing is certain in retail.

“The smaller independent retail businesses have been helped with a 30% reduction in business rates and we now need the Government to start spending the £675 million high street fund to help bring confidence back to our high streets. As always, Bira will continue to fight the corner for independent businesses across the UK and we are now looking to secure a permanent solution for business rates from 2021.”

Bira runs the Quarterly Sales Monitor four times a year, it is the only survey of its kind that reflects the independent retail industry in the UK. The report features full analysis from the survey as well as all member comments. All reports are then used to influence the media and Government through our Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee (LPAC).

2018 sees growth in independent stores across shopping centres as landlords look for diversity and unique occupiers to replace closing chains

Data released today (28th May) by the Local Data Company and the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) shows that 2018 saw growth in the number of independent stores in shopping centres, with 1,951 new openings leading to a net gain of +87 (+1.1%) compared to a net decline of -88 in 2017 (-1.1%).

Independent retailers played key role in replacing the net loss of -811 chains in shopping centres – due to retailers rationalising estates. Shopping centre owners are becoming increasingly creative with vacant space, splitting it into smaller units which are more suitable for independent occupiers.

The analysis, which reviews changes across more than 313,000 independent businesses across Great Britain also found that overall, independent retailers opened 4.5% more shops in 2018 than in 2017. This number was offset by a record number of stores closing (35,524), which led to an overall net decline of -1,013 shops. However, this is a 32% improvement from the decline of -1,483 shops in 2017. Losses were offset by Leisure categories (cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs) and Service retail categories (hairdressers, barbers and dry cleaners) which were the only categories to see growth in 2018, with a net increase of +710 and +992 units respectively.

A key area of growth in the independent sector was Barbers, seeing an increase of +803 units. This represents a +7.3% net increase in numbers in the 12-month period. Barbers have been growing for five years straight and 2018 saw growth accelerating 30% from the +619 net increase in 2017.

Other key findings

• In 2018, independents accounted for 64% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain.
• A total of 70,035 independents either opened (34,511) or closed (35,524) up +4% up on 2017 where 67,503 opened (33,010) or closed (34,493).
• Numbers of independent Leisure units (restaurants, cafes & entertainment) increased by +0.75% in 2018. In 2018 there was a net increase of +710 units (11,080 openings and 10,370 closures), versus a net change of +132 in 2017.
• The independent Comparison Goods retail category (non-perishable goods such as clothes, books and homewares) saw a net change in units of -2.45% in 2018 (-2.62% in 2017). This is a net decrease of -2,125 units; a marginal improvement on 2017 (-2,240).
• The independent Convenience retail category (grocery and convenience stores) experienced a net decline of -590 units in 2018 versus a net decline of -266 units in 2017. This was the only sector to not see an improvement with competition from chain operators becoming more evident.
• Service retail (hair and nail salons, tattoo parlours and dry cleaners) was another category to see growth 2018 of +992 units (+1.0% versus +0.9% in 2017). This was predominantly driven by barbers.
• Key growth categories have been Barbers, Beauty salons, Restaurant & Bar concepts and Coffee shops. (see table 1 for figures)
• Categories in decline include Estate agents, Newsagents, Women’s clothing shops, and Fashion shops. (see table 2 for figures)
• Independent Vegan (+52%) and Jamaican restaurants (+15%) have increased the most as a percentage of their total estate.
• The North West showed the greatest increase of independents at +395 units (+1.0%) in 2018, versus +1 unit (+0.0%) in 2017.
• Yorkshire & the Humber and Greater London showed the greatest decline of independents at -429 units (-1.4%) and -377 units (-0.5%) respectively
• Portobello Road in London has the accolade of having the highest percentage of independent businesses at 95% (based on locations with 50+ total units).
• Telford is the town with the lowest percentage of independents at only 19%, against a GB average of 64% (based on locations with 50+ units).
• High streets saw no change in fortunes when compared to the previous year, with a decline in independent retailers of -0.3% in both 2017 and 2018 . Retail parks continued to see growth with a +4.6% increase (versus +7.3% in 2017), however this location type only accounts for 0.2% of all independents across GB.


Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira, said:

“Seeing growth in certain areas is encouraging to see. We’ve certainly noticed the increase in service-based retail. Even traditional retailers are seeing the benefits of diversifying and offering a service in their store that consumers can’t get online – whether this be key cutting, coffee, treatments or even workshops and demonstrations.

“However, the overall net decline of -1,013 shops shows independents are struggling. Business rates continue to be a huge burden on independent retail businesses. On top of this parking in town centres is reduced and often very expensive, there is poor infrastructure and there has been a lack of local authority vision and investment. We will continue to fight to level the playing field for retail as a whole and allow bricks and mortar retailers the chance to compete with online.”


Lucy Stainton, Head of Retail and Strategic Partnerships, the Local Data Company commented:

“2018 saw many well-known brands exit the high street and rationalise estates of bricks and mortar stores. A byproduct of this activity was a plethora of units in prime locations coming into the market, which agile entrepreneurs have been quick to reoccupy. This, combined with more a creative approach to property by shopping centre managers has resulted in a new breed of independent shopping centre occupiers. Increasing independent businesses in these assets has benefits for the owner, bringing diversity and differentiation into the retail offer. For independent business owners, the benefits include increased footfall and access to marketing via promotional websites and campaigns.

“In the coming months and years, we expect a similar pattern for retail parks. Whilst historically they have hosted big-box brands with large stores, recent challenges for retailers in this market will force retail park owners to review the structure of their assets, breaking up larger units up to attract a new type of retailer and make units for viable for independent retailers.”


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MPs take their enquiry into business rates to Birmingham to hear from independent retailers

The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan, MP (Chair of the Treasury Committee) alongside MPs Steve Baker, Alison McGovern and Clive Betts (Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee) brought the Treasury Committee’s enquiry into business rates to Birmingham today, to speak to a number of independent retailers at the British Independent Retailers Association’s (Bira) Head Office.

Speaking to several independent retailers, including Surinder Josan, from All Seasons DIY in Smethwick, West Midlands, Liz Lawson from Lawsons in Devon, Duncan Mackay from Mackays of Cambridge, Martin Foster from Lakeland Leather in Cumbria, Cheryl Thallon from Sheaf Street Health Store in Daventry and Jacqui Bennett from Cooks of Trentham in Stoke on Trent, the Committee heard how business rates are crippling retailers and heard suggestions for a new system.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said: “It was incredibly important for the committee to come out of London to hear from retailers from the rest of the country and to gain an understanding of what is happening at the coal face. The MPs really listened to their views and agreed that significant change is needed. We were pleased to hear that Bira’s proposal for a business rates allowance was heard, as well as more fundamental calls for reform.”

Surinder Josan, owner of local business All Seasons DIY, said: “Having MPs come to Birmingham to listen to us was a pivotal moment. Business rates are crippling many independent retailers and we need to do all we can to stem the losses and make our high streets thriving places again. I myself have had to put my plans for expansion on hold due to my rates. Nicky Morgan really listened and made lots of notes, so I’m hopeful that she took something away from today and took on board our ideas for reform. The battle isn’t over yet though and we’ll continue to fight.”

Members of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents and the Association of Convenience Stores were also in attendance to take part in the round table discussions.

Ofgem announces strategic review of microbusiness energy market

Ofgem announces strategic review of microbusiness energy market
  • Ofgem is concerned some microbusinesses are struggling to engage with the market and paying more for their energy than they should.
  • Our evaluation of the impact of the CMA’s price transparency remedy suggests that wider issues remain in the £3.5 billion microbusiness energy market.
  • Ofgem presents its initial analysis on consumer harm and seeks further views and evidence on the challenges microbusinesses face.

Ofgem has announced its strategic review of the microbusiness energy market to better understand and address the issues faced by microbusinesses.

Our initial analysis shows that market information is often inaccessible, resulting in customers paying high prices and struggling to make informed decisions.

Microbusinesses play a central role in the UK economy. According to government data, there were over five million microbusinesses in the UK in 2018, accounting for a third of employment and 21% of turnover. Last year microbusinesses paid £3.5 billion in total in electricity and gas bills.

Ofgem has concerns that the energy market isn’t working as well as it should for these customers.

The complexity of the market with the wide variety of contracts and lack of accessible helpful information about prices means many microbusinesses find it hard and costly to engage in the market to find a better deal.

Ofgem has found that microbusinesses who do not engage in the market still pay a higher “loyalty penalty” than disengaged domestic consumers.

Following its investigation into the energy market, the Competition and Markets Authority ordered suppliers in 2016 to provide clear prices to microbusiness customers through a quotation tool on their websites or through price comparison websites to help them engage in the market.

Ofgem implemented the remedy in 2017 and today has published an evaluation of its effectiveness. The regulator has found while the remedy has improved the level of price information that is available to microbusinesses, it has had a limited impact on microbusiness engagement levels and has failed to address some of the fundamental problems in the market.

We will gather further evidence through the call for inputs and other evidence gathering activities before publishing our action plan in winter 2019.

Ofgem has already introduced a number of reforms to help microbusinesses get a better deal. This includes stopping suppliers from automatically rolling over microbusiness customers onto expensive deals, banning suppliers from backbilling microbusiness customers for energy used more than 12 months previously and introducing an overarching principle to treat microbusiness consumers fairly.

The review and any subsequent actions will complement other reforms being taken forward by Ofgem and government focused on micro and small businesses including smart meters, and the half hourly settlement and switching programmes.

Anthony Pygram, director of conduct and enforcement at Ofgem, said: “Microbusinesses are the backbone of the country’s economy. Yet too many are still finding it hard to navigate what is a complex and at times opaque market to get a better energy deal and are suffering significant consumer detriment as a result.

“Our review announced today, combined with our continued work with the government and industry, aims to deliver a properly functioning competitive retail energy market which works for all microbusinesses.”

Offensive Weapons Act receives Royal Assent

Knife sales

New legislation paves the way for Knife Crime Prevention Orders


The Offensive Weapons Act has today (Thursday 16 May) received Royal Assent, bringing in tough new measures that strengthen law enforcement’s response to violent crime.

The Act will make it illegal to possess dangerous weapons in private, including knuckledusters, zombie knives and death star knives, and will make it a criminal offence to dispatch bladed products sold online without verifying the buyer is over 18.

The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, is also providing additional support to the police through Knife Crime Prevention Orders. These orders will act as a deterrent to those vulnerable to becoming involved in knife crime. They will also enable the courts to place restrictions on individuals to help the police manage those at risk in the community.

Guidance on the process for Knife Crime Prevention Orders will be published, including operational guidance to police forces, ahead of a pilot in London.

Sajid Javid, Home Secretary said:

“As Home Secretary, I’m doing everything in my power to tackle the scourge of serious violence. Our new Offensive Weapons Act is a central part of this.

“These new laws will give police extra powers to seize dangerous weapons and ensure knives are less likely to make their way onto the streets in the first place. The Act will also see the introduction of Knife Crime Prevention Orders – a power the police called for.

“As well as tough law enforcement, it’s hugely important we continue our work to steer young people away from a life of crime in the first place.”

The Act includes a number of other measures to tackle serious violence, including:

  • A ban on the possession, manufacture and sale of rapid firing rifles and bump stocks, which increase a rifle’s rate of fire. The ban on the manufacture and sale of these weapons has now come into force with immediate effect
  • A ban on selling bladed products to a residential address without age verification
  • Updating the definition of flick knives to reflect changing weapon designs and banning private possession of flick knives and gravity knives
  • Changing the legal definition for threatening someone with an offensive weapon to make prosecutions easier
  • Banning the sale of corrosive products to under 18s
  • Making it an offence to possess a corrosive substance in a public place

The Government will also consult on guidance for some of the new measures in the Act and engage with businesses and industry on how the legislation will affect them before it comes into force.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said:

“We fully support responsible retailing of knives. These new regulations require two things- one is enforcement, especially where there is a perceived high risk. Secondly, the education of retailers and consumers is vital, not only in terms of knowing their obligations but also on the best way to enforce them.

“Bira has been and will continue to work with the Home Office to improve communications to retailers, to ensure they are fully aware of their responsibilities.

“We also believe that manufacturers play an important role in providing suitable packaging and labelling, that clearly shows the restrictions on the purchase of knives and other bladed items.”

The Offensive Weapons Act and strong law enforcement form part of the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy, which combines tough action with the vital need to steer young people away from crime in the first place.

Recently the Government launched a  £200 million 10-year Youth Endowment Fund to create a generational shift in violent crime. There is also an ongoing consultation on a new ‘public health duty’ which is intended to help spot the warning signs that a young person could be in danger.

Time to engage with innovation says CEO, Andrew Goodacre

British Independent Retailers Association (bira)

On his travels CEO Andrew Goodacre has been inspired by new ideas

OVER THE PAST couple of months I have been trying to visit as many members as possible, often at branch meetings, to better understand the challenges and opportunities faced by our independent retailer community.

Common themes have emerged: diversity, plus innovation to engage with the shopping public. The world of retail has always been fast-paced and technology has added completely new dimensions, changing the way we shop and our retail experiences. It is difficult to imagine a successful independent retail business today not being creative with either its marketing or its product range.

On pages 14-17 of the Bira Member Magazine we profile Potters of Hockley.

This business was founded in 1909 and is still going strong, but it is a very different business today from its ironmongery roots. It has successfully diversified by adding cookwares and has established a great reputation for quality products and service in this sector. The hard work of the management and staff are evident its success and recently Potters represented the UK among the world’s best cookshops at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago.

Coffee roaster Stewarts of Trent Bridge represents a different kind of diversification.

Established in the 1980s, roasting and selling coffee beans to trade and public, under new owners it is now selling coffee machines and barista training to people serious about coffee. The business has grown to such an extent it is now a supplier for Bira Direct. This is great news for Bira as we need to reach out to the increasing number of coffee shops on the high streets. Service retailing is still a buoyant area and one that we will focus on even more.

Fashion is one of the most challenging areas for independent retailers because of the huge rise of internet shopping in this area from selling. As we report on p28, in the Scottish Borders Sarah Thomson has taken a creative approach to engaging her target market by organising fashion shows and activities to attract local shoppers. By creating theatre and an uplifting shopping experience, the business has succeeded where many others have foundered. A focus on ensuring an enhanced experience in-store will be crucial for all bricks-and-mortar retailers in the future. Finally, as this is the last edition of Bira magazine before our AGM, I would like to thank Surinder Josan for being a great national president over the past 12 months. We have spent a lot of time together and I have been impressed by Surinder’s commitment to Bira and its members while managing his own business. We will have Howard Pullen as our new president in June and I am sure that he will continue in the same vein as Surinder.

View the latest online edition of the Bira member magazine