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 www.vendhq.com/remarkable-retailers.

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.”

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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.   

ONS reports encouraging retail sales figures but it isn’t a time to feel confident

ONS Sales Results

Following the year on year 4% rise in retail sales reported by the Office of National Statistics today, Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), says:

“The positive results for retail sales growth in February are encouraging and will certainly be a help to many struggling retailers. The surprising warmer weather will have got people in the buying mood.

“However, it is still an incredibly difficult market and margins continue to be under pressure. Retailers still need help and these results shouldn’t be a distraction from the issues they face on a daily basis, in particular the ever increasing costs and paperwork. Local authorities can support their local independent retail businesses by automatically implementing the forthcoming reduction in rates for those with a rateable value of £51,000 or below for example.”

Business rates in Scotland – April 2019

rates scotland

The principles of  business rates in Scotland are broadly similar to the rating systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

All non domestic properties are given an assessment (rateable value) which is equivalent to an annual rental value.

The last revaluation took place in 2017 and the next revaluation is scheduled for 2022.

Business Rate Appeals

There is a general right of appeal against assessments but appeals are limited to the first 6 months after a revaluation or 6 months after receipt of an assessor’s valuation notice.

New occupiers can appeal within 6 months of taking occupation or ownership and there is also a right of appeal if the physical circumstances affecting a property change.

Rate Reliefs

There is a rural rate relief scheme available for properties located in designated areas with a population of less than 3,000.

But only small food shops, general stores and post offices with an assessment of less that £8,500 qualify.

The Small Business Bonus Scheme is more generous.

This provides 100% relief for properties with a rateable value between £0 and £15,000.

25% relief is available for properties assessed between £15,001 and £18,000.

Businesses occupying more than one property can still claim Small Business Bonus Scheme relief, but only if the combined rateable value of all their properties is less than £35,000 and the individual rateable value of each property is less than £18,000.

Bira and BHETA tussle it out on the turf

Tussle on the turf - Bira Golf day

The British Independent Retailers Association and the British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) will come together again to present a friendly but competitive networking, business and social occasion in the calendar by way of the fourth ‘Tussle on the Turf’ golf tournament. The event is to be held on Wednesday 17th July in Stratford-upon-Avon at The Welcombe Golf Club.

The bragging rights currently sit with BHETA who ran out winners of the third event last year and currently lead two to one. So, the gauntlet is thrown down as the independent DIY, hardware and cookshop retail members of Bira will battle it out to regain the spoils and honours from the DIY, hardware and housewares supplier members of BHETA.

Set in the backdrop of the neo-Jacobean mansion, the Welcombe championship standard 18-hole course is in 157 acres of Warwickshire countryside. This par-70, 6,288-yard championship course rolls seamlessly through the hills of Warwickshire and provides a tricky round for players of all abilities.

Bira will be lead out by member Vin Vara, of The Toolshop Group, to regain the sought after trophy they picked up in the inaugural challenge. The overriding objective of this initiative is to forge tighter relationships between the two associations and their members and to better understand each other’s needs to a mutually rewarding business relationship going forwards.

Jeff Moody, Bira Direct Managing Director says: “Following the success of this evolving tournament we are so happy to be involved again. We are always strengthening our members’ relationships with suppliers. This friendly inter-association golf competition is a great opportunity for both to build a better understanding of each other and have fun too.”

Executive DIY Director at BHETA, Paul Grinsell say: “We’re pleased to be able to be working more closely with Bira and its members in a relaxed, business and networking event. With a hint of competitiveness thrown in I’m sure, we’re pleased to be engaging with such an initiative that is establishing itself as a fixture in the calendar.”

Retailer and supplier teams of four are invited to participate in the event. Visit our events page or contact event organiser Michael Dark mda.mail@virgin.net .

Government focused on implementing Making Tax Digital

Business Rates

In his Spring Statement 2019 speech, the Chancellor reinforced that the mandatory digital record keeping for businesses with
annual revenues above the VAT threshold (£85,000) will come into force from 1st April 2019.

Philip Hammond called this an “important first step in this modernisation of the tax system to which the Government remains committed”.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT is designed to help small business owners and self-employed professionals get a better handle on how much tax they owe – or how much tax they are due back from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

MTD-compatible digital tax reporting software will help to eliminate human error from data input and enable HMRC to improve taxpayers’ understanding of how much tax is owed within their digital tax account – much like online banking.

A recent independent study, published in association with TaxAssist Accountants partners, Intuit QuickBooks, believes MTD for VAT will deliver a productivity boost for small businesses.

The report indicates net gains in turnover and a financial boost for the national economy to the tune of £57 billion within the first five years of its operation.

A light-touch approach to MTD for VAT penalties in 2019/20

The Chancellor has also confirmed that the Government will adopt a “light touch approach” to all penalties relating to MTD for VAT in the first year of implementation.

This approach is reserved for individuals and small businesses that are “doing their best to comply”, with no filing or record-keeping penalties due to be issued within the first 12 months.

Mr Hammond said that the focus for MTD for VAT will be on “supporting businesses to transition”.

The Chancellor also revealed that he would not be “mandating MTD for any new taxes or businesses” in 2020 as part of this transitional period.

MTD is going to fundamentally change the way businesses keep their records and bring it into the digital age so this “light touch approach” to penalties will simply enable businesses to thoroughly test their new software and digital links before the penalties kick in.

Therefore those VAT registered businesses that take the relevant steps to comply with MTD will have nothing to worry about.

Source: Bira approved service partners, TaxAssist

You need to ensure you have the right software solutions in place to be compliant. Now’s the time to make sure all your bases are covered – Xero and Vend, Bira’s preferred MTD partners, are here to help you become MTD ready.

Xero and Vend

Daniel named best store for toys

Daniel in Windsor Toy store wins an award

DANIEL IN WINDSOR was named Department Store Toy Retailer of the Year 2018 at the recent Toy Industry Awards ceremony. The independent department store also won the prestigious accolade in 2015.

Daniel Department Store’s Toy Kingdom is the heart of the family-run store in Windsor. The Daniels understand the importance of education, learning and imagination and believe the Toy Kingdom has enthused generations of children and adults alike with their extensive toy selection.

“Winning is always a fantastic team achievement. This time was extra special as it coincided with our 100-year anniversary celebrations, so it was truly wonderful to be presented with this prestigious award,” said toy buyer Warren Du Preez. “Our thanks are extended to our team’s tireless efforts and contributions, which make the department a truly magical experience for our customers to come and enjoy.”

Organised by the British Toy & Hobby Association (BHTA), The Toy Industry Awards recognise the best in toy retail, product design and toy supply for the UK and Ireland and celebrate outstanding performers within the independent, specialist multiple, grocer, department store and online retail channels. The judging panel is made up of industry experts from BTHA and the toy industry press.

Daniel in Windsor Toy store wins an award

From Daniel, Lauren Cano (assistant manager & assistant toy buyer), Anna Gardener (toy department supervisor) and Warren Du Preez (manager & toy buyer) are seen with Foye Pascoe of Hasbro (BTHA chair)

High Street 2030 report backs Bira’s ideas

Retailers on the high streeta

BIRA’S LONG-STANDING ARGUMENT that business rates need replacing has been endorsed by MPs in a report, High Streets and Town Centres in 2030.

Describing business rates as “increasingly outdated and far from ideal”, the 78-page document from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee states: “We believe that high streets and town centres can survive, and thrive, by 2030 if they adapt.”

Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre, who took part in the inquiry alongside Martin Foster of Bira member Lakeland Leather, said: “We broadly agree with the report’s findings and recommendations. We are pleased to see it being recognised that independent retail businesses will be crucial in providing the diversity and quality retail experience demanded by the consumers. It is important for MPs to realise high streets are not just about major chains and that independents do and will continue to play a key role.”

Click here to read the full High Street 2030 report

Putting off installing the latest software updates could result in cyber crime

BIRA Cyber Aware Life updates

New #LifeUpdates campaign is warning that putting off installing the latest software and app updates can result in becoming a victim of cyber crime

New research from Anglia Ruskin University, in partnership with the government’s Cyber Aware campaign, has revealed that nearly nine in ten (89%) respondents delay doing one or more ‘life updates’1. This is despite the fact that overcoming the urge to procrastinate and getting on with our to-do lists could improve our wellbeing, while delaying them could be putting us at risk of serious consequences, such as cyber crime.

The most neglected life updates are changing service providers for our insurance, electricity or bank (48%), going to the dentist for a regular check-up (47%) and installing the latest software and app updates as soon as they become available (47%).

Top 10 list of life updates the public who were questioned delay:
  1. Changing service providers for our insurance electricity or bank (48%)
  2. Going to the dentist for a regular check-up (47%)
  3. Installing the latest software and app updates (47%)
  4. Doing the washing up (46%)
  5. Returning items purchased from a shop or online which you no longer want (40%)
  6. Making the bed (35%)
  7. Servicing the car (27%)
  8. Changing batteries in the fire alarm (25%)
  9. Returning something borrowed (24%)
  10. Doing a tax return (22%)


Many of us start with the best intentions – when asked why we tend to put off these tasks 31% of those of us who delay at least one task3 said they meant to do it but then got distracted. And once we start putting things off, it can be hard to stop – with the majority (58%) of respondents admitting they put at least one task off ‘for as long as possible’ despite the fact that many of the top ten tasks we put off could potentially lead to financial loss in the short or long term. And despite their focus on ‘living their best life’ millennials were most likely to put tasks off, with 96% of 18-25 year olds delaying at least one or more tasks, compared to 84% of 45-75 year olds.

Dr Lewis Goodings, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University explains the science behind why we procrastinate: “So why are we all so guilty of procrastinating? It’s partly because we are lured into a sense of comfort when we delay a task and no immediate negative consequences occur. However, if we delay when it comes to cybersecurity then negative consequences – such as a hacker accessing your device – can happen and you may not be aware of them until it’s too late and you’ve already become a victim of cybercrime.”

“Luckily if you do have a tendency to procrastinate then there are simple things you can do to make life easier for yourself like checking that software or app auto updates are turned on. And just getting on with it may even make you feel better about yourself –  we have a term in social psychology called ‘self-mastery’ which boils down to people feeling better when they complete something. Start with an easy life update to make you feel positive straight away and encourage you to work through your list – installing the latest software and app updates is really simple – and then you can relax while the hard work is done for you. We know cybersecurity is something people worry about so ticking this off will make you feel better and gives you the comfort of knowing you are making yourself more secure online.”

According to Cyber Aware, by not installing software and app updates as soon as they become available, we miss out on vital security updates which are designed to fix weaknesses in software and apps which could be used by hackers to attack your device and steal your identity. This can lead to lost time and potentially lost money.

Sarah Lyons, Deputy Director Engagement – Economy and Society, at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) explains that: “Installing the latest software and app updates is an essential ‘life update’ that helps you protect yourself online. Software updates are designed to fix weaknesses in software and apps, helping secure your device against attacks from hackers. All you have to do is check that auto-updates are turned on and turn them on if they’re not. Updates don’t have to get in the way – you can set them to run overnight when you’re not using your phone.”

To help us protect our private and personal information from being exposed to hackers, Cyber Aware has released the following tips:
  1. Always install the latest software and app updates as soon as they become available
  2. Use a strong, separate password for your email
  1. Always install the latest software and app updates as soon as they become available
  2. Use a strong, separate password for your email
  3. Activate two step authentication on your email
  4. Consider using password managers.
  5. Secure your tablet or smartphone with a screen-lock
  6. Always back-up your most important data
  7. Don’t use public WiFi to transfer financial information
  8. Avoid clicking on suspicious links

For more information you can visit the following websites:

New promotions from Villeroy & Boch

Villeroy and Boch new promotions. Bira Direct Supplier to independent businesses

With the high-quality tableware products from Villeroy & Boch, ordinary and even special occasions are made all the more festive. From baking and cooking to setting the table and serving – make every meal enjoyable with their premium tableware.

It is important to have the perfect dishes and cutlery, the right wine glasses, and the most stylish home decor for your customers’ special occasions. Discover the wide range of tableware products by Villeroy & Boch and find everything you need for any event – from simple, everyday meals to formal dinners and extravagant holidays. Transform ordinary summer barbecues into unique affairs or create an exotic ambience at your dining table. With its elegant style and premium quality, Villeroy & Boch tableware will make you want to set an exceptional table and entertain every day of the week.

Find new promotions on their supplier page today.

Cyber Aware #LifeUpdates campaign launches

BIRA Cyber Aware Life updates

The Cyber Aware #LifeUpdates campaign launches on the 27th February. The campaign aims to encourage people to act on the simple tasks we all put off doing.

Cyber Aware (formerly Cyber Streetwise) aims to drive behaviour change amongst small businesses and individuals so that they adopt simple secure online behaviours to help protect themselves from cybercriminals. All research and guidance is based on expert advice from the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of GCHQ.

Cyber Aware is a cross-government awareness and behaviour change campaign delivered by the Home Office in conjunction with Department of Culture, Media & Sport alongside the National Cyber Security Centre, and funded by the National Cyber Security Programme in the Cabinet Office.

The latest campaign from Cyber Aware explores how members of the public often delay completing small tasks, even though doing them would be to their benefit. Cyber Aware strives to educate and inspire small business owners to tick off simple tasks (from installing the latest software and app updates, dealing with tax returns or updating our contacts) to save them a lot of stress – and potentially money.

Cyber Aware says “While the risks of a cyber-attack are relatively high for SMEs, the steps they could take to protect themselves are actually really simple.”

Find out how you can protect your business in the Bira Cyber Aware hub.

View the Bira Cyber Aware Hub

NAHS celebrates a year with Bira

NAHS Partnership

The National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) is celebrating its first anniversary, following its collaboration with The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) in 2018.

The NAHS has been working for its members since 1931 and it continues to be run wholly by retailers. The NAHS provides specialist support and representation for independent health stores. In order to meet its members’ growing expectations for affordable business services and advice, their Board sought the support of Bira last year.

With over 30 services available to its membership, including an inclusive and unlimited legal advice line and its own bank, Bira gives NAHS members peace of mind, as well as saves them money and time.

Avril McCracken from the NAHS said: “Bira membership gives our members access to a wide range of financial benefits and support and gives our industry greater national recognition and influence.

“The NAHS committee greatly appreciates the use of bira facilities for our quarterly meeting and the ongoing services and assistance of bira staff.”

NAHS members have already saved money through their membership, with member’s reporting the following savings: £800 a year on accountancy, £130 a month on credit card fees, £120 a month on business banking and £700 a year on legal advice.

Bira Direct Supplier Amefa announce a new 48 hour delivery service

Amefa is happy to announce it can now offer a 48-hour delivery service to Bira members. We have listened to feedback on how we could improve from Bira members and are now able to offer this enhanced service, as standard, from the 1st of April 2019.

To enable this to happen we have made investments and improvements in our supply chain and operational efficiencies. Please get in touch with your Amefa account manager for more details.

Visit the Amefa Supplier page here

120 years supporting independent retail businesses

120 years supporting independent retailers

This year, the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) celebrates 120 years of supporting independent retailers.

Since 1899 when Bira’s predecessors – the Ironmongers Federation, the British Hardware Federation and the Drapers Chamber of Trade (DCT) were formed, and following a number of business acquisitions and partnerships, including the British Shops and Stores Association in 2009, Bira has championed independent business owners.

Today, Bira represents thousands of independent businesses, from cookshops and hardware stores to pet, furniture and coffee shops, anywhere that has a business-rated premises. Members benefit from exclusive service offers, better buying terms and business support. Bira also works behind the scenes to promote the interests of independent businesses with Government, trying to even the playing field between bricks and mortar and online businesses, fighting on things like business rates, knife sales and parking.

Bira CEO, Andrew Goodacre said: “We are incredibly proud of our 120-year heritage. In this tough economic climate and the incredible changes that retail is currently going through, to still have members today that joined in the early days of the association really is an achievement. It shows how well independent retailers can adapt to change in order to survive, by constantly adapting to their changing customers and environment.”

Lawsons, a kitchen, homewares and hardware retail business with branches across Devon, has been members since the 1970’s. Liz Lawson said: “My father John had taken over the business in the 70’s and asked Bira to carry out an overview of the business so that he could understand what was going on. It turned out it wasn’t doing very well but with the Association’s support and information he turned it around and within three years it started trading profitably.

“There are many valuable attributes that Bira has provided our business with, such as insurance, business loans, buying and lobbying government to mention a few. However, I think the most valuable thing Bira has provided us with is the connections with other retailers. Whilst we all run different businesses we all face the same challenges and issues and we can learn from each other and very often help each other; together we are stronger. Running your own business can at times feel lonely and you don’t always know the answer, so Bira membership and support is invaluable.”

Take a look at the services available to members here.

Don’t miss out on a rates reduction- take action now

ONS Sales Results

Members could miss out on a reduction in their business rates if they don’t contact their local authority or council to find out how the reduction will be applied.

Bira have become aware of a lack of uniformity in the way local authorities are implementing the hard-fought 30 percent discount for businesses with a rateable value below £51,000, with some automatically applying it, whilst others require a form to be filled in.

In October 2018, Bira were delighted when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the discount in his budget. He said that this reduction would be applied to all retail premises (below the £51,000 threshold) and businesses would still receive the small business rates reliefs (applicable to businesses with a rateable value below £12,000).

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO said: “This was a real win for the smaller independent retail businesses and a real reward for Bira’s campaign to reduce the burden of business rates.

“We have continued our work by challenging the local authorities to implement the 30% discount in the most expedient way so that all relevant businesses receive this much needed discount. We have already written to the local authorities, reminding them to support retail businesses by making it easy to claim the discounts.”

However, it appears the implementation may not be as uniform as Bira were hoping for, mainly due to the different legacy systems used by local authorities. This is relevant because an independent retail business may have premises in more than one local authority or council and it would be a mistake to expect the same treatment from each authority.

Andrew added: “We strongly recommend you contact your local authority, (for each of your premises if you have more than one) and establish how your local authority or council intends to implement the rates discounts. We already know that some local authorities will automatically reduce the rates bill but others are asking retail businesses to complete a form to apply for the discount. Either way, it is really important that you take the initiative and contact the authorities so you are well prepared.

“Together we have fought hard to obtain this discount and it would be a real shame if any business paid more rates than it needed to.”

Bira Direct Supplier T&G Woodware win at Gift of the Year Awards

Bira Direct Supplier T&G Woodware win at Gift of the Year Awards

Bira Direct are pleased to announce three of its suppliers have been announced as winners at the 2019 Gift of the Year Awards.

The Gift of the Year awards celebrate the best in home and gift retailing, the Gift of The Year Awards are the most highly-respected industry accolades aimed at recognising the best new products. T&G Woodware have won in the category for Kitchen & Dining.

“T&G are excited to be the winners of Gift of the Year 2019, in the kitchen and Dining category with ‘Ocean’. This new range inspired by the love of the sea includes ceramic storage, wireware baskets and trivets, shaped wood boards, cork pot stand, table mats and coasters. T&G hopes that this exciting new kitchen range will engage everyone in a conversation to rethink plastic and consider what we can all do to help prevent pollution in our seas.”

T&G make a donation to Plastic Oceans UK from sales of the ‘Ocean’ range – www.plasticoceans.co.uk

If you’d like to purchase from the award-winning range call T&G sales office on 01275 841841 quoting your Bira membership number.

Help make a wave of change!

Bira Direct Supplier T&G Woodware win at Gift of the Year Awards
Patrick Gardner MD, Jenny Handley Head of Marketing, Corinne Stevens Design & Product Director

Bira Direct Supplier Dartington Crystal win at Gift of the Year Awards

Bira Direct are please to announce three of it’s suppliers have had wins at 2019 Gift of the Year Awards. The Gift of the year awards celebrate the best in home and gift retailing, the Gift of The Year Awards announced at this years Springfair are the industries go-to for innovative new products. Dartington Crystal have won in the category for best gift under £10 with the Whiskey Experience.

“We are delighted that our Whisky Experience Glass was named as a winner in the recent Gift of the Year Awards. We developed this glass to truly enhance the pleasure of drinking while remaining as an affordable gift that is both practical and aesthetically appealing. The glass recognises whisky as much more than just a drink, but as an experience that engages all of the senses. The wide bowl allows for a generous amount of swirling, encouraging the spirit to ‘open up’ and release its aromas, while appreciating the whisky’s colour and appearance. Its tall body and slightly tapered rim focus the aromas and delivers the liquid in a narrow stream, mid palate. Retailing at just £6.95 and supplied in attractive gift tube packaging, it is a gift that any whisky lover would be pleased to receive.”

Richard Halliday, Commercial Director, Dartington Crystal

If you’d like to order The Whiskey Experience contact the sales office on 01805 626 225 or email sales@dartington.co.uk, please quote your bira membership number.

Home Secretary announces new police powers to tackle knife crime

  • Action to be taken against retailers found selling knives to children
  • £500k funding for Trading Standards to prosecute retailers who repeatedly sell knives to under 18s
  • New Knife Crime Prevention Orders will give police more powers to stop people carrying knives
  • Further measures introduced to target early intervention with a new phase of #knifefree

The Home Secretary is radically stepping up the Government’s response to knife crime and will be introducing new orders to prevent criminals carrying blades.

As part of decisive action to enhance police powers, the Government will seek to amend the Offensive Weapons Bill to introduce Knife Crime Prevention Orders.

This new deterrent can be imposed on any person aged 12 or over to prevent vulnerable young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime.

It can be imposed on anyone who police believe is carrying a knife, are habitual knife carriers or people previously convicted of a knife related offence.

This fills a gap which is not covered by existing preventative orders such as gang injunctions and criminal behaviour orders.


On introducing the measures, the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid said:

“I have been clear that I will do everything in my power to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives.

“The police already have a range of measures they are using to keep our streets safe, but there is more we can do to help them in this battle. I have listened to their calls and will be introducing these new orders to stop gang members carrying knives in the first place.

“It is vital we continue to focus on improving the law enforcement response while at the same time steering young people away from criminal activity in the first place.”


The new civil orders will also restrict behaviour by placing curfews and geographical restrictions on individuals as well as limiting their social media use – preventing the rapid escalation of rival disputes.

To ensure compliance with these restrictions, breach of the order will be a criminal offence and the holder can be sent to prison for two years if convicted.

The Home Secretary will also be taking further action against retailers found to be selling knives to children. A new £500k prosecution fund will help Trading Standards teams to secure the prosecution of retailers who repeatedly sell knives to under 18s.


Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said:

“We are continuing to work with the Home Office on this, the main area being clarification on what the law means practically for retailers who sell knives in store and online. We are also supporting the Met’s potential training programme for retailers.

“The biggest thing for retailers to be aware of now is the increased likelihood of test purchasing. It is incredibly important to make sure that all your staff are trained to ask for ID when selling knives to anyone that looks under 25, in the same way the Challenge 25 system works for alcohol. Increased literature at till points will support your staff in this process and act as a reminder.”


As part of these further measures to intervene early, the Home Office is set to launch the next phase of #Knifefree in the spring. The campaign, aimed at young people, looks to inspire them to pursue positive alternatives.

This announcement comes just months after the Home Secretary launched a new range of innovative measures to address violent crime in the UK including, a consultation on a new legal duty to underpin a ‘public health’ approach to tackling serious violence, a new £200 million youth endowment fund and an independent review of drug misuse.

This continues the work of the ambitious Serious Violence Strategy which, backed by £40million of funding, puts greater focus on steering young people away from a life of crime.

Pet shops protest at strict new rules

PPRA - Pet Product Retail Association - Northumbria pets - British Independent Retailers Association

Bira has made representations to DEFRA to voice the concerns of pet shop owners who are critical of new regulations that came into force on 1 October 2018.

The new Animal Activities Licensing (AAL) regulations replace several laws dating back to 1925. Now any business in England selling live animals or boarding cats or dogs will need a licence issued under the new regulations. The rules do not apply to activities such as pet sitting, grooming and dog walking.

Concerned members have complained to Bira that local councils, which issue the trading licences, are in danger of closing down traditional pet shops by rigorous enforcement of the new rules. One member, who has been trading for more than 30 years as a bird specialist, has been told that he has to change all his cages as they do not fit the exact measurements specified in the new law. This is even though his existing cages, in cubic feet, are considerably larger than what is required. Cages with the designated dimensions are not available commercially, he says.

Another demand is that the shop keeps a daily “mood record” of the birds it sells. The owner told Bira magazine: “I work so hard usually I don’t even have lunch. How am I supposed to find the time to note the mood of my canaries and zebra finches? And how do I describe the mood of them anyway?”

The Bira member, who wishes to remain anonymous so as not to antagonise the local council, believes the underlying aim is to close down shops that sell live animals to satisfy the demands of animal rights campaigners: “The regulations are set out in a 91-page document from DEFRA and the local authority officers have told us they intend to enforce every detail.”

Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO, commented: “DEFRA has told us that it is too late to change the regulations and it will be down to the local authorities to how they interpret them. This appears to be another example of unnecessary legislation being loaded on to honest retailers. It shows again that Bira as a trade association must keep up our pressure on the lawmakers when they are putting together new regulations. To do this effectively, we need our members to be fully involved and engaged with us.”

New notes for Northern Ireland

New £10 and £5 notes with a vertical design and in the polymer format will be issued in Northern Ireland on 27 February.

The Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank will introduce both valuations, but Danske Bank will issue only £10 notes.

Unlike Bank of England notes, the existing £10 and £5 notes will always be legal currency, so although they will start to be withdrawn, they still can be used in the future. Meanwhile, the introduction of a new Bank of England £20 note has now been put back to the first half of 2020. A new polymer £50 note is not expected to appear until 2023.

Sell online the easy way with New River

As seen on the high street.

A new online marketplace for small independent retailers, As Seen On The High Street, which is linked to a national network of pop-up shops, has been set up by NewRiver REIT, a specialist retail & leisure property.

The site, asseenonthehighstreet.co.uk, allows independent businesses to sell online without the hassle of setting up their own website. Customers can see the products before they buy in pop-up shops across the UK.

NewRiver owns 34 convenience and community shopping centres, plus retail warehouses and pubs up and down the country, from Hastings to Paisley. Its idea is for products being sold on the marketplace to be displayed for several weeks at one of the centres. The site will carry details of venues and products.

Independents also can take physical space at one of the 34 centres. NewRiver says it understands that local independent retailers play an important role in the wider retail marketplace and community and so it is committed to helping support growing independent businesses.
There are no upfront costs, listing charges or minimum sign-up period. NewRiver takes a commission of 10%.

Interested retailers should contact NewRiver via the website asseenonthe-highstreet.co.uk.

QSM Q4 2018: Christmas period boosts trading – for some


Sales were up for Gifts, Glass, China, Jewellery, Accessories and Luggage, Cookshop & Housewares and Health Store retailers during October – December, whilst Cards, Stationery, Cards and Hobbies struggle.

The overall picture from Bira’s exclusive Quarterly Sales Monitor (QSM) for the fourth quarter of 2018 is one of disappointment, with many of the figures showing a decline when compared to the previous quarter and Q4 2017.  Only four of the twelve sectors surveyed reported a positive average performance during the fourth quarter. Overall, 53.66% of respondents reported a lower performance for Q4 which is up on Q3 (51.47%), though is an improvement when compared to Q4 2017 (54.3%).

Gifts, glass, china, jewellery, accessories and luggage sales may have been higher during the Christmas period, where gifts are typically in demand, with the sector seeing a (+3.42%) higher performance against Q4 last year. The same can be said about the Cookshop & Houseware and Health Store sectors as respondents showed clear improvements of (+1.92%) and (+0.18%) when compared to Q4 last year (-2.22%) and (-1.23%).

The worst performing sector in the QSM was Cards, Stationery, Crafts and Hobbies which was down (-14.34%). This is perhaps the most surprising result from the survey given the season. Other struggling sectors include Clothing and Footwear retailers as well as Books and Toys, Music and Computers/Telecoms retailers, which were both down by (-4.55%) and (-3.13%) respectively. Again, popular seasonal items that did not resonate with consumers.

The North West was the best performing region with respondents recovering from a poor Q3 (-3.56%) to show a (+0.5%) rise when compared to Q4 last year. Retailers from Wales showed a drop when compared to Q3, but still performed strongly this quarter (+1.16%). Retailers in East Anglia and the Midlands had a more difficult time, showing declines of (-7.43%) and (-2.46%) respectively.

Despite the varying signs of improvement across some sectors and regions, prolonged discussions on Brexit are undoubtedly a cause for concern. Furthermore 40.42% of retailers are facing significant margin pressures, due to a weaker Pound again as a result of Brexit. Some 57.84% of respondents to the QSM are feeling anxious about the year ahead, a worrying sign amongst retail as this is the highest figure for 2018 and is almost 10% up on the same quarter from last year (48.98%).

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO said: “The latest figures from the final QSM of 2018 reflect a disappointing year for independent businesses. Despite it being one of the busiest trading periods of the year, the majority have struggled to claw back precious revenue. It is clear that 2019 will be a big year for the high street with the outcome of Brexit and an increase to wages as huge challenges, to name a few. While many businesses can look forward to rate reductions from April, we urgently need the Government to start spending the £675million high street fund as anxiousness is at an all-time high – these businesses clearly need support now. Let’s hope that in 2019 the Government addresses these issues, which would hopefully lead to increased footfall to lift sales across all sectors and regions. 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 on the button below 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

Retailing still is attracting new entrants despite the new pressures

Retailers on the high streeta

SOME 15,340 INDEPENDENT shops were opened across Great Britain in the first half of 2018, but the overall number operating fell by 1,554 because 16,894 pulled down the shutters.

The ongoing volatility in the sector is revealed by the latest research from The Local Data Company (LDC) and Bira. It also showed that multiple retailers continue to close units. In the first half of 2018 the multiples had a net loss of -2,848 shops (-1.36%), which compares to -659 shops (-0.33%) in H1 2017.

With 32,234 changes, independent activity actually rose in H1 2018 compared to the same period in 2017 when 28,076 opened (14,419) or closed (13,657). In 2018, Service retail (which covers barbers, hairdressers and tattoo parlours) was the only retail category to see growth, with a net increase of +104.

Most Bira members fall into the LDC’s Comparison goods (non-perishable goods) category. Here the net change in the number of shops was -1.63% (-0.74% in H1 2017), representing a net decrease of -1,394 units, much more than the -596 in H1 2017.

The sectors in decline include women’s clothing and fashion shops, estate agents and newsagents.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO, said: “This report perfectly illustrates the problems for independent retail businesses. Despite more businesses opening, we have seen more closing resulting in a net loss from the high street. Bira have been saying for a long time that independent retailers need support from local and national governments. The recent budget announcements regarding a rates reduction and the setting up of a high street fund are very welcome and we hope it is not too late to provide a lifeline to these important businesses.”

Most growth has been with barbers, beauty salons, tobacconists/e-cigarette shops, and mobile phone shops. Vegan restaurants (+32%) and vaping/tobacconists (+6.7%) have increased the most as a percentage of their total units.

Leisure units, such as restaurants, cafes, bookmakers & entertainment, stayed at the same level as in H1 2017. Convenience retail (bakers, butchers, food shops, & supermarkets) saw a net decline of -264 units (-0.86%) in H1 2018 versus an increase of +24 units (+0.08%) in H1 2017.

The North West showed the greatest increase of independents at +84 units (+0.71%) in H1 2018, versus +843 units (+0.71%) in H1 2017. Yorkshire & the Humber and Scotland showed the greatest decline of independents at -494 units (-1.64%) and -276 units (-0.40%) respectively.

Independents account for 65% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain, the same as in H1 2017. Some 310,080 independent businesses were covered in this research.

Top 10 independent openings by type

Top 10 independent openings by type

Table 1. Largest numbers of independent units opened by business type in H1 2018 across GB (Source: LDC)

Mental Health First Aid in the workplace debate date set

Business Rates

Following the open letter to the Prime Minister regarding an amendment to the Health and Safety in the workplace regulation, a parliamentary debate on mental health first aid in the workplace has been scheduled for Thursday 17th January.

The Backbench Business debate is sponsored by a cross party trio of MPs Luciana Berger MP (Lab), Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem) and Jonny Mercer MP (Con) and will ensure parliamentarians are urged to answer the calls from across society to put mental and physical first aid on equal footing. If successful, the government would enact its manifesto pledge to amend the Health and Safety regulations, requiring every employer to make provision around mental, as well as physical, first aid.

bira’s Andrew Goodacre co-signed the letter in 2018 in order to support retailers with dealing with any issues that arise both physically and mentally within their business. Andrew Goodacre is keen to stress that this must be handled as part of the training retailers would already have to deal with physical health, in order to avoid placing more of a burden on retailers.

Find out more about the campaign here.


Parliament votes down the Government’s Brexit deal

Houses of Parliament

Last night we saw Parliament vote down the Government’s Brexit deal. MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal, which sets out the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU on 29 March.

The response to this historic commons defeat is to have a no-confidence vote which nobody expects to succeed. Can politicians put their efforts into something that might succeed in the interest of Britain and our economy?

How to prepare your business

Uncertainty can be the curse of retailing because it stifles consumer confidence and spending. Politicians from all parties must work harder to find a solution. In the meantime, it’s important that businesses prepare for leaving the EU and obtain more information on what’s changing in your sector here www.gov.uk/business-uk-leaving-eu

Last updated: 16/01/2019

Join the conversation with bira on social media

Want to join the bira board?

British Independent Retailers Association (bira)

BIRA WOULD WELCOME members nominating themselves to join its Board of Management for 2019-2021.

Retailers from many sectors and from all over the country make up the board, which guides the vital work bira does for the independent community.

If you want to offer your input to bira’s activities and policies, please contact andrew.goodacre@bira.co.uk to find out more about the board and to have the process for self-nomination explained.

Members to receive the bira membership magazine every two months in 2019

bira member magazine

In 2019 members will receive bira magazine every two months.

We have taken the decision to reduce the frequency of the title from 10 issues a year in an effort to reduce costs.

We will continue, however, to focus on delivering a high-quality publication offering insight to the retail sector and information to help independent retail business owners.

Member magazine – January/February 2019

Member magazine – January/February 2019
You can find the latest industry news from the bira membership magazine online.

View All Previous Issues

New music app set to save the high street £1,000s


New music app offers businesses great music without the need to purchase a music licence.

On the 6th December music specialists Amazing Instore, the service providers behind bira music store launched their new app designed exclusively for businesses that want great background music without the need to purchase a music licence. Specialists in providing music to retailers and businesses of all sizes, they curate the very best playlists heard in stores across the UK.

Working with their sister company amazingtunes.com, their expert music profilers hand pick tracks from the very best new and emerging artists from around the world. Tracks are then profiled into playlists, which have been specifically designed to create the perfect atmosphere for any location. With titles such as ‘Driving Me Wild’ bringing an upbeat, catchy indie-pop style to ‘Coffee and TV’ offering cheerful vibes with acoustic and relaxing melodies, all you will need to do is make the choice as to which playlist works best for your business.

The app can be used on mobile or tablet devices and is available on Android and iOS. Businesses can opt to pay monthly or make even bigger savings by paying annually.

For many businesses playing music has become increasingly expensive, as all businesses need a music licence to play the radio or put on a CD. We really wanted to create a product that provided great music without the additional need for a music licence.

Grant Thompson – Business Development Manager Amazing Instore

The new app offers great music, a variety of styles to suit all tastes and an easy to use interface, making this an affordable alternative to purchasing a music licence.

Melanie Anderson – Head of Amazing Instore


Find out more about the bira music store service for members and how to access the discount here.

Business as usual for Scotland’s retailers

rates scotland

Scotland’s Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, published his draft budget proposal including plans to provide Scotland with economic certainty ahead of Brexit. So, what will this mean for retailers?

Overall, the proposals will not make much difference to retailers in Scotland but working with bira’s approved partner for rates appeals, Mark Radford, we’ve summarised what the announcement will mean for retailers in Scotland.

  • The multiplier will rise a little less than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) level at 2.1% rather than 2.4%
  • Unlike in England, there will be no specific retail relief in 2019/2020
  • The Small Business Bonus Scheme will continue
  • This provides 100% relief for properties with a Rateable Value (RV) of up to £15,000
  • Properties assessed between £15,001 and £18,000 will receive 25% relief
  • If more than one property is occupied and the combined RV is between £18,001 and £35,000, there will be 25% relief on each individual property with an RV less than £18k
  • The maximum relief available is £7,200
  • New properties or improved/extended properties will have increases in liability deferred for 12 months
  • The proposed business rate levy on out of town/internet retailers has been abandoned

Read Scottish Draft Budget here

Find out more about the bira rating appeal service here.

Independent retail hit by a loss of -1,554 units in first six months of 2018

independent retailers

Data released today by the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) and the Local Data Company (LDC) shows that independent retailers opened significantly more shops in H1 2018 than in the same period last year. However, a record number of stores were closed over the same period. This resulted in a total decline of -1,554 shops (-0.5%) – a significant decline from the increase of +762 shops (+0.27%) in H1 2017. The net loss of -695 units located on high streets alone was the main driver of this decline. Independent units categorised as ‘Service Retail’ (including retailers such as barbers, hairdressers and dry cleaners) was the only category to see growth, with a net increase of +104 units in H1 2018. Chain retailers (brands with more than 4 stores) have also remained in decline with a net loss of -2,848 shops (-1.36%) in H1 2018 across GB, which compares to -659 shops (-0.33%) in H1 2017.


Key information

• Independents account for 65% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain, the same as H1 2017

• In H1 2018 a total of 32,234 independents either opened (15,340) or closed (16,894), 14.8% up on H1 2017 where 28,076 opened (14,419) or closed (13,657)

• The comparison goods retail category (non-perishable goods such as clothes, books and homewares) saw a net change of -1.63% in H1 2018 (-0.74% in H1 2017). This is a net decrease of -1,394 units, significantly higher than the -596 net change recorded in H1 2017

• Numbers of independent leisure units (including restaurants, cafes, bookmakers & entertainment) stayed the same in H1 2018 with no net change (0.00%) compared to a +0.55% increase in H1 2017. In H1 2018 there was a no change in the number of units (4,761 openings and 4,761 closures), versus a net increase in units of +475 net change in H1 2017

• The convenience retail category (bakers, butchers, food shops, & supermarkets) saw a net decline of -264 units (-0.86%) in H1 2018 versus a small increase of +24 units (+0.08%) in H1 2017

• Service retail (health & beauty, financial services, tattoo parlours and estate agents) was the only category of independents to see an increase in H1 2018 of +104 units (+0.10% versus +0.94% in H1 2017)

• Key growth sectors have been barbers, beauty salons, tobacconists/e-cigarette shops, and Mobile phones. (see table 1 for more detail)

• Sectors in decline include estate agents, newsagents, women’s clothing shops, and fashion shops. (see table 2 for more detail)

• Vegan restaurants (+32%) and Vaping/Tobacconists (+6.7%) have increased the most as a percentage of their total units

• The West Midlands showed the greatest increase of independents at +117 units (+0.49%) in H1 2018, versus +194 units (+0.93%) in H1 2017

• Yorkshire & the Humber and Greater London saw the greatest decline of independents at -494 units (-1.64%) and -276 units (-0.40%) respectively • Portobello Road in London has the accolade of having the highest percentage of independents at 95% (based on locations with 50+ total units) overtaking Sparkhill in Birmingham (2nd) which was the top location in H1 2017

• Ellenbrook is the town with the lowest percentage of independents at only 19%, against a GB average of 65% (based on locations with 50+ units)

• Wider analysis of location types (analysis of location types by high streets, shopping centres and retail parks) shows that high streets saw a dramatic decline of -695 units in H1 2018. This represented a -0.41% net decrease in units

• Shopping centres saw a similar pattern in H1 2018 with a decline of -1.55% (versus +0.67% in H1 2017). Retail parks was the only location type to see growth in units of +1.48% (versus +3.41% in H1 2017) however this location type only accounts for 0.2% of all independents across GB


Top 10 independent business openings by classification mix

opening and closures

Table 1: Highest numbers of independent units opened by business type in H1 2018 across GB (Source: LDC)


Top 10 independent business closures by classification mix

Table 2. Highest numbers of units closed by business type in H1 2018 across GB (Source: LDC)


National and regional net variations of independents

Table 3. Net percentage change (openings minus closures) of independent units by region in H1 2018 across GB (Source: LDC)


Top 10 independent towns (50+ units)

Table 4. Towns with the greatest percentage of independent retailers (Source: LDC)


Bottom 10 independent towns (+50 units)

Table 5. Towns with the least percentage of independent retailers (Source: LDC)


Change in independents’ numbers by location type

Table 6. Net change by location type for Independents across 2,700 in and out of town GB locations (Source: LDC)


Lucy Stainton, Senior Relationship Manager, Local Data Company commented:

“There is no doubt 2018 has already shown itself to be a particularly transformative year for the UK retail market. The shake-up across the physical landscape is impacting chains and independents alike. Businesses in all corners of the industry are having to look very closely
at their current model and assess its relevance in an era of unprecedented consumer change. It is not all bad news for independent businesses though, if we look to the leisure sector, which has fallen into sharp decline for the first time in the first half of 2018, this has been driven entirely by a fall in chain outlets. Independents on the other hand have been able to take advantage of the consumer’s increased search for uniqueness.”


Andrew Goodacre, CEO, British Independent Retailers Association (bira), said:

“This report perfectly illustrates the problems for independent retail businesses. Despite more businesses opening, we have seen more closing resulting in a net loss from the high street. bira have been saying for a long time that independent retailers need support from local and national governments. The recent budget announcements regarding a rates reduction and the setting up of a high street fund are very welcome and we hope it is not too late to provide a lifeline to these important businesses.”


Note: The total number of independent businesses covered in this research across GB was 310,080

HMRC writes to firms ahead of Making Tax Digital for VAT

bira members

Ahead of the rolling out of Making Tax Digital for VAT in April 2019, HM Revenue and Customs has started writing to select businesses eligible to join the Making Tax Digital for VAT pilot

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has revealed that an initial 20,000 letters have been distributed to firms eligible to join the pilot for Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT. MTD is designed to bring the UK’s tax infrastructure into the 21st century and VAT will be the first tax to be reported digitally from April 2019.

The first tranche of letters was delivered on 8th November to affected businesses, with an additional 180,000 letters due to follow the week after.

HMRC is staggering the release of its letters in two phases to monitor their impact. Each phase contains different content, with the aim of finding the most impactful marketing messaging for MTD.

The first phase outlines to firms the way that VAT reporting is changing and the new way of doing things if MTD applies to them. It also invites firms to join MTD for VAT early through the pilot if they so wish.

The second phase is more succinct, announcing the modernisation of the UK’s VAT reporting system and the need for firms to adapt now.

Will I receive a letter?

There are some businesses that are currently unable to participate in the MTD for VAT pilot, such as businesses who trade with the EU, partnerships, Flat Rate Scheme users etc. If a business is ineligible to join the MTD for VAT pilot, they will not receive this first wave of letters from HMRC.

If you don’t receive a letter, it may mean HMRC doesn’t want you to take part in the pilot. However, you may still be obligated to comply with MTD for VAT from April 2019.

Who is affected by Making Tax Digital for VAT and when will it apply?

MTD for VAT applies to VAT-registered businesses with an annual turnover of more than £85,000 (excluding any VAT exempt income), and applies to VAT periods starting on and after 1st April 2019.

MTD for VAT has however been deferred for a few ‘complex’ businesses until 1st October 2019, although HMRC expect this to affect only 3.5% those registered for VAT.

The first digital, quarterly VAT returns are due for submission by 7th August 2019.

Under MTD for VAT, affected businesses will no longer be able to use the Government Gateway website. Instead, they will have to submit their VAT returns via MTD-compliant software. They will also need to maintain their records digitally.

Need help with Making Tax Digital for VAT?

Your local TaxAssist Accountant can offer a free initial consultation to help your business fully understand its obligations to maintain digital VAT records.

For straightforward, professional advice on Making Tax Digital for VAT and any other aspect of MTD, call TaxAssist today to arrange a free initial discussion on 0800 084 6909 or completing the online enquiry form.

Next steps

We’ll be continuing update our members on MTD and any key developments between now and April next year. To see how Making Tax Digital will affect your business, click here.

Source:  bira approved service partner, TaxAssist Accountants

Working hard to support your business growth

At bira direct, adding value to our members is the reason we exist. Once you’re a member we strive to support your business throughout your membership.

Right now, we’ve got a big focus on helping you drive more people to your shop with our Footfall drivers campaign and this will continue to be a focus for 2019. We’ve spent some time understanding the latest and future trends and identifying products that will increase your sales. And we’ve negotiated hard with our suppliers to provide exclusive deals and offers that we think you’ll find perfect for your shop. With over 170 suppliers and 2,000 brands, we’ve got it covered.

On average, our members save over £1,500 a year buying stock through us.

But it’s not just these offers that make bira direct membership the best money you’ve ever spent. We help you run your business more efficiently, keeping as much of your valuable time free to sell more.

Our invoice manager is a great example of this. It provides you with an easy-to-use tool for accessing all your business invoices. As we process your invoices Invoice Manger will automatically be updated, so there’s no need to wait for the post. Setting it up couldn’t be easier, and we’re always on hand to help if you need us to.

And here’s a reminder of some of the other benefits of using bira direct:
• No contracts, hidden costs, or fees – it’s all part of your membership!
• We offer your independent retail business a preferential terms package having negotiated with each of our suppliers, giving you competitive cost prices, lower carriage paid thresholds, and in some cases, a preferential rebate package
• You receive regular updates, offers and special promotions from suppliers, both directly and from us here at bira direct
• Our members only area provides access to a range of special clearance lines and promotions as well as information on all of our preferred suppliers as found in your Membership Guide
• You get to spend more time running your business!

Thanks for being a member and we hope you take advantage of all the benefits bira direct brings.

Best wishes.

Steve Akers
Director of buying, bira direct

Footfall Drivers Invoice Manager

Budget 2018 provides clarity for Making Tax Digital VAT threshold


Chancellor Philip Hammond used his Budget 2018 speech to offer clarity to the UK’s army of small businesses regarding the upcoming implementation of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT returns.

From 1st April 2019, small businesses with a taxable turnover exceeding the VAT registration threshold will be required to file digital VAT records via MTD-compatible software.

Prior to Budget 2018, there were fears that the Chancellor could slash the VAT registration threshold by 50% – down from £85,000 per annum to just £43,000 per annum.

This move would have brought hundreds of thousands more small firms into the MTD for VAT programme. However, Mr Hammond moved to allay those fears in last week’s Budget 2018 speech, confirming that the existing £85,000 VAT threshold will remain until at least April 2022.

The move, which will cost the Exchequer £60 million in 2020/21 and a further £130 million in 2021/22, gives certainty to small businesses below the VAT registration threshold and allows them to continue with their existing VAT reporting regime.

Nevertheless, the Government announced last summer that the pace of MTD implementation would only be slowed for taxes other than VAT until April 2020.

This means that small businesses across the country must still be prepared to keep their taxes in order digitally in less than two years.

To ensure small firms in rural areas can partake in the MTD programme – and meet the Government’s strategy of having a nationwide full fibre network by 2033 – the Government allocated £200 million in Budget 2018 to pilot “innovative approaches to deploying full fibre internet in rural locations”.

The deployment will begin in the Borderlands, Cornwall and the Welsh Valleys; starting with primary schools, followed by a new voucher scheme for nearby residential and commercial properties.

The Government also confirmed that Suffolk would be the first local region to be handed £5.9 million of funding from the Local Full Fibre Networks challenge fund, ensuring next-generation full fibre connectivity for the county’s key public buildings.

We’ll be continuing to update our members on any developments between now and April next year. To see how Making Tax Digital will affect your business, click here.

Source: bira approved service partner, TaxAssist Accountants

Stars: Underlines 2018 – the winners revealed

personal touch award

Renowned cabaret destination, Café de Paris, was the spectacular venue for the 10th edition of Stars: Underlines Best Shop Awards. 300 guests from the intimate apparel, swimwear and legwear industries met for a star-studded evening, sponsored by LYCRA® fibre, celebrating 60 years in 2018 and hosted by leading b2b publication, Underlines Magazine.

The 2018 event also heralded the inaugural collection awards – prizes for the bestselling swimwear, underwear, legwear/shapewear, sports and nightwear collections were presented.

The Stars Awards brings together the best stores, shops and e-commerce sites in the UK & Ireland with 20 leading brands nominating finalists for their success in retail. Other sponsors included respected brands Wacoal, Anita, Melas, Panache, Eurovet, Lise Charmel, Bravado! Designs and FAB, the specialist fashion and accessories sector of bira.

The Winners of 2018:

  • Best Newcomer – La Belle Boudoir
  • Concept – The Pantry Underwear
  • Independent Department Store – Creaseys
  • Chain Store/Large Department – John Lewis & Partners
  • Specialist Etailer – Figleaves.com
  • Multi-Sector Etailer – ASOS
  • Legwear Retailer of the Year – Elphicks
  • Personal Touch – See-Saw Lingerie (Runners Up – Boudoir Pink & Foundations of Nantwich)
  • Boutique Style – Mimi & You
  • Special Care – Embrace
  • Excellence & Outstanding Achievement – Chantilly
  • SuperStar – Sandra Dee
  • Editors’ Choice – Elys (the Morley Group)
  • Industry Unsung Hero Award – Jemma Barnes, Anita UK
  • Supplier of the Year Award – Wacoal Europe
  • BestSelling SS2018 Collection – Sports Bras – Anita
  • BestSelling SS2018 Collection – Lingerie Coordinates – Chantelle
  • BestSelling SS2018 Collection – Swimwear – Maryan Mehlhorn
  • BestSelling SS2018 Collection – Legwear/Shapewear – Charnos Hosiery
  • BestSelling SS2018 Collection – Nightwear – Cyberjammies


Next year’s event will be held on Thursday 14th November 2019.