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Time to engage with innovation says CEO, Andrew Goodacre

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