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.”


Stock Up For Less and enjoy Extended Credit with Dexam

stockupforless dexam background

Bira members can enjoy extended credit from Dexam when they order through Bira Direct.  Available on all orders placed until Friday 28th June.


All ASAP orders over £300 come with 7.5% discount*

All ASAP orders over £500 come with 10% discount*

All ASAP orders over £1000 come with 15% discount*

*Availalbe on all products except Chasseur


What’s more all invoices will be due for payment by 30th August whether delivered in May or June!


Hurry and place as many orders as you like!


Contact our Sales Team at or call 01730 811 811.

view the promotion

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

The Pension Regulator has gone from collecting £22,500 to £53,768,808 in 5 years

Pension Regulator Contributions

Bryan Stott, Corporate Consultant for workplace pensions comments on The Pension Regulator crackdown. 

Yes those figures are correct, if only it was my pension fund! I would not be penning this article but sipping my pina colada on my yacht moored in a secluded bay in the Caribbean.

The £22,500 was the total amount collected by the Pension Regulator in Escalating Penalty Notices fines in the year ending March 31st 2015, this figure had grown to £53,768,808 (subject to audit) in the year ending March 2019. These figures were released by the pension regulator under a freedom of information request.[1]

When Pension Automatic Enrolment started in 2012 it was the most radical and most complicated pension legislation ever introduced in the UK, and meant that every employee in the UK, had to set up a pension scheme and enrol eligible employees into the pension scheme. Part of the legislation reminded me of that dance the oke-cokee, as employees were put in, could opt out, be put back in then opt out, this dance would happen every 3 years.

The pension regulator very kindly put together a series of guidance notes for employers, these notes ran to over 300 pages, having been involved in setting up over 1,000 Automatic Enrolment schemes, I have yet to meet an employer who read the guidance notes, please contact me if you did (no prize, but it would be good to know I was not the only person to read these).

What has gone wrong? Nothing in the government`s view as figures released in May 2018 estimated 9.5 million had been auto-enrolled into a pension scheme[2] and it is estimated that 10 million will be the total auto-enrolled by the end of 2019[3], add to that the £124 million collected in fines as at March 2019 since Automatic Enrolment began[4], and I would agree that from a government point of view this has been a success.

When Automatic Enrolment was first introduced my dealings with the Pension Regulator led me to believe that the legislation would be policed on a low key basis, and the regulator would help employers to fix things if they got them wrong, but I recently attended a webinar hosted by the Pension Regulator, and was surprised that the opening statement implied that they were now going to take a heavy hand to any employer who was getting things wrong.

As part of my role at Wren Sterling I have conducted many Automatic Enrolment audits and have yet to find any employer 100% compliant. The main reasons being the person who installed the auto-enrolment scheme left and there was no hand over to the new administrator, communications were not compliant (and often not issued on time) and records were incomplete.

The pension regulator is visiting 100 companies a month, so with 1.5 million employers with Automatic Enrolment schemes, the chances of a visit from the Pension Regulator are slim. But if the regulator did come knocking are you ready to be inspected, and would you pass the inspection, or would you be another employer being fined?

If you’re concerned about your Automatic Enrolment compliance, speak to Bryan Stott for a free initial consultation.

All Bira members benefit from an auto-enrolment pension scheme with guaranteed acceptance.

Find out more about Bira Workplace Pensions


Please note, Automatic Enrolment is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.






Independent retailer exceeds previous years’ annual online turnover in just one month!


It’s been another disappointing year for the high street, but there has been some very good news for one independent retailer.

Sarah at Artichoke has seen her profits soar, despite the declining footfall, and recounts how in just one month she exceeded her previous year’s entire online annual turnover! These are huge statistics and Sarah puts it all down to her decision to collaborate with the online platform Down Your High Street, and the power of TV.

The high street closures of many of the big keystone retailers like Argos, M&S and Primark means that fewer people are visiting the high street on a regular basis, and when you combine this with the fact that many banks are now also closing their bricks and mortar branches in preference for online banking, it’s clear why the high street is facing an uncertain future. People are just not visiting the high street in the same numbers as they used to.

We also know that shopping habits have changed over the years and the rise of online shopping means that independent bricks and mortar retailers are now really starting to feel the pinch.

Like many independent retailers, the Artichoke clothes boutique that Sarah has owned for over twelve years, had seen its sales decreasing year on year, and customer visits diminishing. Sarah has a small online store in addition to her two bricks and mortar shops and one pop-up shop, but she realised that in order to compete with the big retailers she needed to grow her online presence.

So, it was with great interest that Sarah read about the online platform Down Your High Street in January 2019. She’d received an email from Bira (British Independent Retailers Association) which invited independent retailers to boost their online presence by launching their shop on the DYHS online retail platform for 5% commission instead of 15% for the first year. Sarah signed up to DYHS in January 2019 because she wanted to have access to a larger platform on which to sell her ‘basics’.

She had no idea how her decision to sign up with DYHS, made by her own admission because ‘January was quiet, and there wasn’t much to do in the shops’, could have led to such a spectacular change in the fortunes of her business.

Just two weeks after launching Artichoke on the DYHS platform, Sarah’s ‘Angelika Magic Stretch Jeans’ were featured on ‘The Lorraine Show’ and everything ‘went a bit crazy’, Sarah explained. It’s no secret that the Lorraine Show’s fashion presenter Mark Heyes is a huge fan of the high street and finds a lot of inspiration for his style and beauty segment from the DYHS platform. Sarah was thrilled when Mark selected her Angelika jeans to be featured on the programme and recounts how she was watching the show at home when she saw the model coming out wearing a pair of her jeans. The model ‘looked fabulous’ and said how she’d rather have two pairs of the Artichoke jeans than the other far more expensive pair of jeans that they were being judged against. It was at this point that Sarah says her phone started ringing with orders and by the time she’d walked the two minutes from her house to her shop, the jeans had completely sold out in ALL of her stores. ‘It just shows the power of TV’ Sarah joked.

Sarah was advised by Dan Whytock of DYHS to expect to sell 40-50 additional pairs of jeans as a consequence of being featured on the show, but the reality was that she shifted over 400 pairs! In fact, so huge was the viewer response to the jeans that Sarah took over 150 online orders in just two minutes and received over 100 telephone calls from customers wanting to place an order. She was totally overwhelmed and is grateful to Dan for his support in helping her to manage the unprecedented number of orders.

In terms of hard stats, Sarah has seen;

– 20-25% increase in turnover in her pop-up shop since January 2019 (based on last year’s figures)

– 6-7% increase in turnover this year compared to the same time last year.

Her turnover for the month of January also exceeded her annual online turnover for the whole of the previous year. Last year she had a turnover of around 15k and in January this year she’s had a turnover of around 17k.

These figures are phenomenal, and Sarah has no doubt that it’s all down to her decision to move her shop onto a bigger online platform. Although most of the initial orders were completed online, Sarah has attracted more people to her bricks and mortar shops as a result of the TV appearance and has seen her visibility increase hugely as a result.

Sarah’s tips for other independent retailers looking to future proof is to make the shopping experience special and to make the environment and customer service key.

She admits that next year is going to be a tough one for independent retailers and that in the short term she is going to be focusing on survival. Sarah is optimistic about the longer-term future of the high street though, and encourages other independent retailers to embrace the digitalised era and to grow their online presence whilst retaining their bricks and mortar roots.

If you’re an independent high street retailer and interested in listing your products on a larger online platform, you can sign up to the DYHS platform here.

Find out more about Down Your High Street

Over 275 brands to be seen at Exclusively 2019

Exclusively housewares news

Momentum is building for the 2019 Exclusively Housewares and Exclusively Electrical. It’s the housewares show not to be missed. There’s an outstanding show lined up with 32 fantastic new exhibitors bringing the show total to 149 exhibitors. The myriad of exciting new exhibitors will bring a fresh dynamic to the show and are sure to be on the radar of every visitor.

Amazingly, the exhibitors are showcasing over 275 brands, which truly confirms Exclusively Shows as the UK’s Premier Showcase of Housewares, Tabletop and Small Domestic Appliance brands.

Exclusively Electrical welcomes 6 new switched on exhibitors; including Bira Direct suppliers Connect and Scott Brothers.

The incredible new line up of 26 new exhibitors in Exclusively Housewares includes; Amefa, Aydya, Barista, Candlelight, Captivate Brands, Casa & Casa, De Buyer, Dexam, Eko, Snips. H&L Russel, Mapa Spontex, Mepal, Nogent, Orthex, Kitchen Craft, Patterson & Rothwell, Remoska, Royal Doulton, SMB Group, Starplast, Stor, Talleres Toymes, UP Global Sourcing Holdings, Valerie Graham Ltd and Wetger.

Lindsey Hoyle, Sales Director, Exclusively Shows, add adds “This year we have some very exciting introductions to the show from both the UK and Europe. Buyers on a mission to seek newness will not be disappointed; from in store experiences to clever gadgets and more environmentally conscious product than we have ever seen before, the show will be a fantastic start to range planning and buying for the fourth quarter and into 2020”.

In addition, visitors will be drawn to: –
• The products highlighted by the reputable Scarlet Opus in their trend displays, talks and tours as Scarlet Opus are once again supporting the show.
• “the food people’s” talk and stand. The global food trend spotters, will be introducing key food trends which you are worth considering when buying, sourcing and creating appealing retail displays.
• The Brand Showcase will return and draw top journalists, influencers and bloggers. This unique initiative means there’s every chance that products showcased at Exclusively will be in the press in the forthcoming months.

Exclusively Shows welcomes bona fide buyers from across the UK and further afield, from the high street, internet, garden centres, supermarkets, and department stores. The show is recognised as the UK’s best showcase of housewares, tabletop and small domestic appliances products, appealing to all buyers looking for new, innovative and on trend products.

To register for your show ticket and to register for your Exclusively Gift voucher visit the events page.
Exclusively Housewares

QSM Q1 2019 – An encouraging start to the year

QSM Q1 2019

Sales were up for Cookshop & Housewares, Clothing & Footwear and Furniture, Floor Coverings, Beds and Soft Furnishings
independent retailers between January and March 2019, whilst Health Store and Department Stores struggle.

The overall picture from Bira’s exclusive Quarterly Sales Monitor (QSM) for the first quarter of 2019 is one of encouragement, with many of the figures showing an improvement when compared to the previous quarter and Q1 2018. Six of the twelve surveyed reported a positive average performance during the quarter, with ten out of the twelve showing an improvement when compared to Q1 2018. Overall, 51.75% of respondents reported a higher performance for Q1 which is up on Q4 2018 (46.43%) and is a clear improvement on Q1 2018 (42.56%).

Furniture, floor coverings, beds and soft furnishings sales were higher for the first quarter of the year, with the sector seeing a +4.38% higher for the first quarter of the year, with the sector seeing a +4.38% higher performance against Q1 last year. The New Year coupled with a milder winter may have led to higher sales of cookshop & houseware products as well as clothing and footwear products as respondents in these sectors showed clear improvements of +2.07% and +0.33% when compared to Q1 last year (-1.45%) and (-3.26).

The worst performing sector in the QSM was Gifts, Glass, China, Jewellery, Accessories and Luggage which was down -5.07% on Q1 2018. As one of the stronger performing sectors in the last quarter, it is perhaps not surprising that sales of gifts etc. dropped post-Christmas. Other struggling sectors include health stores as well as department store retailers, which were both down by -4.03% and -3.75% respectively. The drop for health store retailers is stark, given how strongly it performed during Q1 last year (+2.57%).

The North West and Wales were the best performing regions with both continuing to thrive from a strong end to 2018 with retailers being +4.54% and +7.28% up on Q1 last year. Retailers in the South East/London showed a significant recovery when compared to Q4, with a +0.51% increase. Retailers in Scotland and the South West had a more difficult time, showing declines of -3.15% and -2.52% respectively. Overall, seven of the nine regions showed an improvement on the previous quarter.

Despite the encouraging figures and signs of improvement, several issues are still causing concern for retailers. Brexit has once again been highlighted by respondents as a concern and it is clearly having an effect with 60.31% of retailers facing modest margin pressures, due to a weaker Pound as a direct result. Other factors such as rising wages, pension increases, and rates were also highlighted by respondents as concerns as this is reflected in the survey with 54.45% of retailers feeling anxious about the year ahead.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO said: “The latest figures from the first QSM of 2019 reflect an encouraging start to the year for independent businesses after what was a disappointing end to 2018. To see that just over half of the respondents have reported a higher performance average as well as a drop in significant margin pressure when compared to the last quarter, is a much needed and welcome start to the year. Despite the positive figures, there are still challenges facing retailers that require action from the Government, with the delay to Brexit being one of the biggest – we need clarity on the outcome before October. 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 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.

Sign up for the QSM

Connect launch their new catalogue – Bigger and Better for 2019!

Connect banner

For the first time ever, Connect Distribution have launched a Spring/Summer catalogue to their customer base of independent retailers in the home appliance industry. This new catalogue will be released in addition to their annual Autumn/Winter catalogue.

Releasing not one, but two catalogues a year benefits both the independent retailers Connect Distribution supplies and the manufacturers they work with.

Independent businesses get access to the best deals and the latest product ranges all year round. They also get up-to-date information about the services Connect Distribution offer including convenient LiveChat and delivery direct to their customers’ doors.

Manufacturers have an effective place to publicise their new product releases to thousands of trade businesses in their industry.

Inside the catalogue, there are 374 glossy full-colour pages filled with great value products. These are broken up into eight categories which are floorcare, small appliances, outdoor, heating and cooling, electrical, lighting, hardware and multimedia.

Some of the highlights of the catalogue include:

• A brand new TCP Smart range of internet-connected lighting, security and electrical devices
• New products from Connect Distribution’s key partners (Morphy Richards, Lavazza, Russell Hobbs, Quest, Melitta, Bosch and more!)
• Additions to Connect Distribution’s low cost and high-quality own branded range, Wellco, which now boasts a cordless stick vacuum cleaner and new microwave models
• The latest ranges from Tefal including tabletop cooking, cookware, kitchen tools and gadgets, drinking on the go, food storage and ironing
• A new Joe Wicks kitchenware collection to suit people looking to prepare healthy meals that are packed full of flavour
• New and updated products added to Connect Distribution’s exclusive range of gunmetal grey Hoover vacuum cleaners as part of the partnership between the two brands
• An exclusive range of Miele vacuum cleaners for independent retailers
• VO5’s new personal care range

Carl Bould, head of B2B sales at Connect Distribution, said, “Launching two catalogues a year lets us support independent businesses in our industry with the best deals and newest product ranges.”

Existing Connect Distribution customers can log into their trade account to view a digital version of the catalogue. Appliance manufacturers or sellers who don’t have an existing account but are interested in viewing the catalogue can contact the Connect Distribution team on 0844 557 3700.

Press-Release_New-Spring-Summer-Catalogue-2019 connect distribution

Treasury Committee brings its Business Rates inquiry to Birmingham to hear from independent retailers

Business Rates

The Treasury Committee together with the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) are hosting an event about Business Rates and the effect they have on independent retailers and our high streets, on the 20th May. The event will bring together a number of business associations, businesses of all sizes, sole traders, as well as the committee members, to discuss retailer’s views of the tax and to look for solutions for improving the system.

The Committee is especially interested in hearing about the impact of Business Rates on different types of businesses and Bira has put forward a number of members to be involved in the inquiry, which cover a range of sectors and sizes. The committees’ inquiry will examine how Business Rates policy has changed, including Business Rates retention, alternatives to property-based taxes, such as the proposed digital services tax, and how changes to Business Rates could impact businesses. The information they hear at this event will help shape the inquiry.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, says: “This is great news for Bira and it shows that the opinions of our members are being heard and can make a difference. We are delighted to welcome the Treasury Committee to our offices in Birmingham and we are sure that it will be a very productive day, which will get to the heart of the issue.”

The event is a result of many years of lobbying by Bira’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, which resulted in a 30% reduction in Business Rates for those retailers with a rateable value of £51,000 or below in the last Budget. But Bira’s fight continues- to make rates fairer and to ensure there is a level playing field for bricks and mortar retailers.

Read more about our work in this area here.

Remarkable Retailers: UK’s 14 most innovative independents announced

Vend + Bira Remarkable Retailers
  • Vend and the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) launch ‘Remarkable Retailers’ campaign to champion innovation among independent stores.
  • 14 businesses are selected from a long list of over 1,000 retailers nationally.

Vend and the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) have today announced a campaign called ‘Remarkable Retailers’, which underlines 14 outstanding contributions to local high streets and champions their innovative approach to retail.

Handpicked from a long list of over 1,000 independent stores, Vend and Bira were impressed with the way these businesses use technology to create the foundation of their success. It has enabled them to build unique in-store experiences and products that are cherished by consumers.

Isle of Skye, a candle brand with five stores in Scotland, was one of the retailers selected. A passion for the environment is a theme that runs throughout their supply chain, and clever stock management with the help of technology plays a big role in the management of their environmental footprint. It helps Isle of Skye to keep track of best-selling items and produce only what is in demand.

Others, such as Hertfordshire’s Soden Style, use technology to be nimble with their presence on the high street. A pop-up launched in 2018, the store responds to consumer trends and gives shoppers unique products that are ‘of the moment’ – a model that only works with a daily analysis of what’s selling well. Responding to consumer trends and national events means Soden Style can stay current, and their first line of stock sold out in just four weeks.

In London, We Built This City stood out for its ‘artist takeover’ initiative. The store lends its windows to local artists, and hosts workshops enabling customers to design their own unique products based on the capital’s inspiration. The store says technology can boost productivity by making the more administrative tasks easier, awarding the staff time to focus on innovation and making the shopping experience memorable and fun.

Vend and Bira handpicked the independent stores for their stand-out approach to retail – whether that be a unique approach to the customer experience, their products or the way that they use technology. The full list can be found at

Higor Torchia, UK Country Manager at Vend, said: “These Remarkable Retailers differentiate themselves by their unique products and customer experiences, but are united by their innovative use of retail technology to support their success.

“Each retailer’s use of cloud-based software allows them to manage inventory on-the-go, as well as run clever reporting analytics that gain insight on customer loyalty and what’s selling well. It means the retailers have more time to focus on creating winning formulas to ensure that local high street can thrive.”

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira, added: “The UK’s high streets are a vital part of the local communities they service, and it’s independent retailers who ensure that they remain places full of personality. The 14 Remarkable Retailers we’ve selected in partnership with Vend innovate to stay ahead of economic and cultural trends, whether that’s in the customer experiences they offer, the goods they sell or the way they use technology. All of the retailers are inspiring examples to the wider sector and demonstrate the amazing things that small retail businesses are capable of.”

Vend point of sale (ePOS) software

Join over 20,000 retailers running their business in-store, online and on-the-go.
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Draper Tools hits a century

Bira Direct Supplier Draper Tools hits a century | Bira

BIRA DIRECT SUPPLIER Draper Tools is celebrating 100 years in business this year. Established in 1919 by Bert Draper, the business is still family-owned, run today by the fourth generation.

With a well-established reputation for supplying hand and power tools for both professional tradesmen and serious enthusiasts, Draper Tools offers more than 11,000 product lines. Since 1919, its dedication to quality and customer service has remained a constant priority.
Chairman John Draper commented: “We are proud to have reached this important milestone in our company history and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped us get here. Although we have grown a lot over the last century, we still like to think of ourselves as a no-nonsense, customer-focused tool supplier. Quality and reliability are still very much at the heart of the business and this will continue as we progress and grow into 2019 and beyond.”

Exclusive promotions, competitions, charity fundraising and a staff party are all planned for the year-long celebration. Each month there will be special-edition centenary products launched at great prices. Stockists should keep an eye out for fantastic deals on top products including trolley jacks, pressure washers, socket sets, spanner sets and more.

To further mark the anniversary, Draper Tools will be dedicating 2019 to supporting and raising funds for Care for Veterans (formerly The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home), which also was established in 1919 to care for injured soldiers returning from World War I.

Draper Tools offers one of the most complete programmes of hand and power tools available from one source. Draper Tools sells products in almost all major categories including DIY, gardening, automotive, hobby, leisure and other non tool lines. Bira members can get exclusive buying terms when buying through Bira Direct.

View Draper Tools supplier page

Bona Floorcare now available through Stax

Stax and Bona are proud to announce their strategic retail distribution partnership – This presents a fantastic opportunity for Bira independent retail members to place their initial new Bona Floor care stand deal orders through Bira Direct via Stax. With all Bona Floor care products now available conveniently through Stax for re-purchase at the same re-order pricing as Bira direct but with no manufacturer minimum carriage paid order required, ordering Bona Floor care products just got a whole lot easier!

Please contact your local Stax Wholesaler Representative or Liam Walsh 👉  Bona Floor Care for more details

stax bona bira direct supplier floor care trade Bona - wooden floor cleaners, finished and adhesives bira direct supplier stax stax logo bira direct supplier




Scarlet Opus @ the Exclusively Shows

exclusively housewares banner

Trend consultancy Scarlet Opus will once again be on hand at Exclusively Housewares and Exclusively Electrical to provide an invaluable insight in to trends which will influence the homewares sector over the next few seasons.

Scarlet Opus provide in-depth predictions about the future wants needs & desires of consumers; how people will be living and what they will want to surround themselves with, focusing on colour, material, pattern, texture & shape to make products desirable 2-3yrs in advance of their launch.

By identifying trends which are relevant to the housewares sector Scarlet Opus provide recommendations to help suppliers and retailers create a unique and sustainable competitive advantage.

Trend Talks @ Exclusively

Scarlet Opus will present 2 trend talks,  in the trend hub housed in the Atrium above Exclusively Electrical at 10.30 each day.  These informative and stimulating presentations will bring to life the key trends predicted to influence consumers in the next 18 months.

In previous years these have been standing room only events, so they do come highly recommended.

Trend Display @ Exclusively

Also located in the trend hub above Exclusively Electrical will be the Scarlet Opus trend display, incorporating exhibitor product selected in the context of three consumer & design trends for 2020 identified by Scarlet Opus. The three selected design trends will guide the styling of interiors over the 18 months.  The trend interpreters from Scarlet Opus will be there to talk buyers and visitors through the displays.

Trend tours @ Exclusively

Participation in a trend tour will provide a further insight to of the trends and a knowledge of the products consumers will be looking to buy – reducing the risk of buying decisions. Lead by one of the Scarlet Opus trend  interpreters,  they will point out the Recommended “on-trend” products and the reasons they are forecast to be on trend.  Tour bookings can be made on the show website and for groups of 5 or more we can arrange a private tour,  just note your requests via our booking system.


exclusively scarlet opus product design on trend 2020

New for 2019 the ‘Recommended on Trend Product’ award

On route to the Trend Hub and throughout your time at the show, look out for the ‘Recommended on Trend Product’ award around the exhibition and on exhibitors stands, these products have all been selected by Scarlet Opus as being “Recommended On Trend”, meaning that they have the very best chance of being what consumers will want to buy.


The Trends Explained ; Traveller, Fellowship and Satori

Autumn/Winter 2018-2019 Trend – Traveller

The followers of this trend will dare to look ahead with optimism to a calmer more stable era. Establishing fairness is central to the trend’s agenda and an era of transparency and clarity begins. The trend is focused on restoring balance, order and correctness. (Will we revert to formal dining? Will we be buying British?)

Spring/Summer 2020 Trend – Fellowship

The fellowship trend is all about the Power of the Collective, rising up together as a community of collaborators. Consideration for the planet, the farmers, factory workers and the materials used. It’s all about a global outlook which installs hope that it must get better for all.  Its very much about revolting from the establishments, with its systems, protocols and procedures and moving to a more relaxed comfortable environment. Leading to a celebration of diversity, embracing new from all corners of the world in our increasing globalised world. Simply reaching out for a better truer future.

Spring/Summer 2020 Trend – Satori

#serenity is the basis of this design trend Satori. It reflects on the “Art of Living”. A recognition and acceptance cement our relationships with what is real rather than virtual.  Moving back to solid values, from which we can build a framework. Consideration and compassion are given to the natural world, and all that has a low carbon footprint. Veganism, biodegradability, cooking from scratch all come to the fore. Preserve you, the planet, in order to maintain a balance and gain serenity. 

The Scarlet Opus initiative allows visitors to make informed more calculated buying decisions, by providing an insight into the popular trends hitting our interiors in 2020/21.