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Bawtry store co-operative proves a success

A trading association set up by independent retailers in Bawtry, South Yorkshire, is raising the profile of town traders and boosting local spending.

The Bawtry Retail Association has grown to 100 retailers in under four years and is now sponsoring events to raise its profile, such as this weekend’s Bawtry horse racing event, which is expected to draw 25,000 visitors, up from 5,000 last year. An annual fashion event is also hosted by the group, raising over £250,000 to date.

Retailers pay at least £20 a month into a pooled fund to join the association, with some larger retailers contributing more. Chains are welcome to join, with the Co-op a member and coffee chain Costa, which is about to open a store in the town, also likely to sign up.

The businesses meet every six weeks “to share ideas and skills sets,” premium indie Robinson’s of Bawtry owner James Jones told Drapers this week. The association also works to boost sales by ensuring that businesses do not cannibalise each other.  “We have a lot of womenswear boutiques, for example, so we make sure there isn’t too much crossover.”

Jones said that the association is key to the market town’s strong roster of independent shops, with efforts such as these boosting trade. “At Robinson’s, our average basket is up from £190 last year to £220. Transactions are up – from 700 a month this time last year, to 770 in April. Our store has had on average 10% growth per year since we took it over in 2009, and we’re currently 20% up on last year. It is because we’re proactive – the second you stand still, you’re overtaken.”

Jones said such measures have become necessary for independent retailers to compete with multinational chains and online retailers. “Being a single-store, family-owned indie, we can’t compete with the likes of Mr Porter. Their weekly marketing spend is the same as our yearly one.” Ploughing efforts into local marketing and building a strong local social media presence is now key to building business, he said. “We see the retail association work as a long-term investment alongside our individual marketing.”

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