Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Voice of independents needed more than ever

The BHF-BSSA quarterly sales monitor is dead. But only because BHF-BSSA has become the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA).

The BHF-BSSA quarterly sales monitor is dead. But only because BHF-BSSA has become the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA).

As a service provider and lobbying trade association, it has been obvious since the merger of the British Shops & Stores Association and the British Hardware Federation in 2009 that the original name, a suit of only barely matching separates, was neither an elegant nor a practical solution. Fashion retailers will appreciate the importance of a good, clear, memorable brand and all the evidence so far suggests we have found that in BIRA.

The organisation set out from the start to fight for the interests of its members, and was set to continue to do so this week at its quarterly meeting with the Bank of England as Drapers went to press.

The quarterly sales monitor - reborn as BIRA’s - for the first three months of 2011 showed there were winners and losers on the high street, with a bias to the losing side. Given the concerns around the rise in VAT and worries about job security in the public sector, a slight decline may look quite good to some people. However, BIRA was poised to report back to the Bank of England that 52% of independents feel anxious about the year ahead, while only 6% feel very confident.

Independents are evenly split (48% to 52%) on the question of whether the VAT rise has had a damaging effect on sales and this is most likely because 53% have cut margins to accommodate the sales tax increase.

BIRA will reinforce, as it did in February, that now is not the time to increase the interest rate, although the day when that happens is clearly approaching. Now more than ever, fashion indies need a clear voice from their trade association for their concerns to be heard.

Alan Hawkins is chief executive of independent retail trade body the British Independent Retailers Association

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.