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Trade body to court indies after rebrand

Newly rebranded trade body the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) - formerly BHF-BSSA - is appealing to fashion indies as it seeks to build its membership.

Attendees at BIRA’s annual general meeting last week in Lingfield Park, Surrey, heard the organisation’s chief executive Alan Hawkins unveil the new identity and pledge to use it to attract new independent retailer members.

He said: “The new identity is designed to say exactly what we are about, to be clear and unambiguous. We want to use it to attract new and younger businesses and reflect the modern retail environment.”

BIRA head of marketing Sarah Golden told attendees she would be overseeing sector-specific marketing drives, including a push to independent fashion retailers.
The group was formed following the merger of the British Hardware Federation and the British Shops & Stores Association in 2009, and includes almost 4,000 members from the fashion retail sector.

Hawkins said the cumbersome post-merger name - BHF-BSSA - had proved a hindrance in communicating the group’s aims to government and that the rebranding exercise, which had taken a year, had included clarification on the group’s aims and objectives.

He pledged that BIRA would represent the interests of independent retail, support sustainable family businesses, and attract younger businesses to swell its membership as well as retaining its heritage and core membership.

BIRA deputy chief executive Michael Weedon, also director of communications, told delegates that his job - lobbying and fighting independents’ case through the media - would be made easier by the change in name.

“Our old name obscured our conversations with government and hampered us politically,” he said. “I used to meet with ministers and spend half the time explaining who we were.”

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