The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) celebrates 120 years supporting independent retailers this year.
Since 1899 when Bira’s predecessors – the Ironmongers Federation, the British Hardware Federation and the Drapers Chamber of Trade – 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 independents, from pet shops and hardware stores to cookware, furniture and coffee shops – in fact, anywhere that has a business rated premises. Members benefit from exclusive service offers, better buying terms and business support.
The association 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 issues 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.
“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.”
Bira is offering a special membership from £120 (ex VAT) for new signups this year.