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Daring to be

different Holly Wilson wanted to run a cool cookshop. Within a couple of years of starting out, she was running two

Get more for less Our approach to designing and delivering insurance for bira members always starts with defining how we can deliver more for less. The bira insurance policy is exclusive to bira members and includes:

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Damage to stock, premises and property

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Cyber threats Practical online advice through our cyber assessment tool

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Make the most of what’s yours in 2019 Are you claiming all you can from government, asks CEO Andrew Goodacre

Cover photograph: Peter Searle

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope all bira members had a good festive period, both in business and personally. In the build-up it was great to see the focus given to independent retail businesses. We saw TV and billboard advertising from Visa, while American Express ran a Shop Small campaign. bira worked very hard in the final quarter of 2018 to raise the profile of independent retailers and clearly other organisations are recognising the important role you play. So, 2019 will be another challenging year for the high street as we can expect more purchases to move online. Changes we cannot control are impacting our sector, including Brexit. As I write this, we do not know the exact situation regarding our withdrawal – or not – from the EU. Irrespective of their personal views, all politicians need to recognise the need for maintaining consumer confidence. Any downturn in this will result in less spending, which is not good for anyone. There are things, however, to look forward to:


This is your bira magazine, so share your news, views and ideas with like-minded retailers by contacting us at All contributions will be gratefully received JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

l From April 2019, for businesses with a rateable value below £51,000, there will be a 33% reduction in rates. We expect this adjustment to be applied automatically by the local authority. The reduction will apply to all retail premises owned by a business and will be applied after any reductions for small business rates relief. This beneficial change is a direct result of bira’s campaign before the budget. l Another positive from the budget is the decision to maintain the employee allowance at £3,000 (in future this will be available only to small businesses). This allowance reduces your employer’s National Insurance contributions by £3,000. If you have not been getting this benefit, you can claim back up to £2,000 for a previous tax year, dating back to 2014-15. If you do not know about this arrangement, speak to your accountant. l Finally, the chancellor announced a £695m fund to support high streets. I urge you all to check with your local authority to see what local schemes and grants are available to support

independent businesses. I strongly encourage you to make one of your New Year’s resolutions to always check what help you can get, and should be getting, from local and central government. At bira HQ we too are expecting a challenging year. In 2018 we had a record number of business failures within our membership. This year we shall implement ideas to increase membership and the use of our services, such as bira direct and bira bank. At times like this, independents need all the support they can get. As a start, we will keep all subscriptions at current levels. As I look forward to 2019, my mind turns to our board of management, which comprises executive directors, elected and non-elected members. We like to change membership every year to allow people to bring new ideas. The role is not too onerous with only four meetings a year and members’ contributions are vital and valued. If you would like to be part of the board of management for 2019-2021, please contact me directly on

news for 2 Trade all bira members

a dogged to get legislation 10With devotion to style 13It'sintotime gardening 7 Shaping at the sharp end

New independent shops keep opening, pet shop owners protest at new rules, awards victories

bira’s campaign for realistic regulations on knife and acid product sales continues

Dog & cat outfitters Mungo & Maud run a lifestyle store for wellheeled pet owners

Nurture your own green shoots of recovery by investing in garden products

he Big Interview: 16TDaringly different 21Counterpoint: Hilary Cookson

smart 24Getting about security

Last Word: 32The Classic Oils

After a career in fashion, Holly Wilson has brought her eye for style to two cookshops in North London locations

We examine how new technology is improving security for both the home and business premises

The vintage, veteran and classic car community is a huge market opportunity for Guy Lachlan's products

The award-winning retailer reflects on the process of closing down her long-established fashion shop


TRADE NEWS bira bank helps avert a vehicle disaster ALERT STAFF AT bira bank saved Agwood, an agricultural and garden machinery dealership serving Kent and East Sussex, from buying two vans that were insurance write-offs. As part of its procedure for providing vehicle finance, in November the bank conducted a standard HPI (Hire Purchase Inspection) for Ian Wood, Agwood’s owner. The vans had low mileage and looked in good condition, but their true history was revealed. Ian said: “This shows the importance of getting an HPI check before making a purchase. There was nothing to suggest anything was wrong with the vans and the dealer conveniently forgot to mention it, but if my employees had accidents in them, where would we stand as a business? Also, in a couple of years, when we come to trade them in, we’d get a much lower price. As soon as bira bank brought it to my attention, I cancelled the order.” John Collins, MD of bira bank, commented: “This isn’t the first time we’ve seen members looking to buy vehicles that fail an HPI check. We do a check as standard as part of the service we provide when offering vehicle finance to any member. We always welcome members coming to us for vehicle finance and we make the process as simple as possible.” If you are interested in buying a vehicle through bira bank, get in touch with Frank Burton or David Pears on 0121 446 6688 to find out bira bank’s latest rates.

Dexter has been created to advise on Making Tax Digital

Are you ready for Making Tax Digital? A CARTOON CHARACTER called Dexter the Digital Tax Advisor has been introduced as the face of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT, the biggest change to tax in decades. The campaign was launched by accounting software company Xero after research revealed one in four small business owners admit they have no knowledge that the legislation is taking effect from 1 April this year. From that date, every VAT-registered business above the £85,000 threshold company in the UK will be required by law to go digital and file its tax through MTD-compatible cloud software. In a survey conducted for Xero in November, some 22 per cent of small business owners said they thought digitally submitted tax returns could cut between six and 10 hours from the process yearly. Despite the rapid approach of the new rules for 1.1m small businesses operating above the VAT threshold, almost a third of small business owners

(29 per cent) admitted having heard of the legislation but not understanding anything about it, while 36 per cent said that the only thing they know about is the 1 April start date. Furthermore, over a third of small businesses (38 per cent) are concerned about the complexity of the switchover, while the same number have concerns due to a lack of understanding and knowledge about the legislation. Just 23 per cent of small business owners know that MTD will be compulsory for all businesses, while fewer than a third (29 per cent) understand the penalties associated with noncompliance. Videos of Dexter, which have been created by the Oscar-nominated animators Alison Snowden and David Fine, can be viewed on YouTube. There is also a Making Tax Digital hub on the website. For more on Making Tax Digital, see page 9.

Business rates relief success THANKS TO PRESSURE from bira, the budget in October contained a proposed business rate discount for retailers. Here bira’s rates specialist Mark Radford summarises the key points from the government’s guidance notes on the deal. The scheme will take effect for both the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 rate years and will comprise 30% relief. The relief applies to occupied premises “wholly or mainly” used as shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments. Qualifying properties must have a current rateable value of less than £51,000. The following uses are intended to be excluded: Financial services (banks, cash


points, betting shops); Other services (estate agents, employment agencies); and Professional services (lawyers, accountants). Relief is applied after mandatory or discretionary rate relief has been applied, so it would appear that charity shops will continue to receive charitable relief and then the 30% allowance will be made. Ratepayers occupying more than one shop will qualify for relief on each shop subject to State Aid rules. There may be opportunities for some BAGMA members to claim the relief because the guidance envisages display rooms, car and caravan showrooms, second-hand car lots and garden centres as qualifying uses.

Paul and Julie Batts with (right) Pete Hughes



Retailing still is attracting new entrants despite the pressures SOME 15,340 INDEPENDENT shops were opened across Great Britain in the first half of 2018, but the overall number operating fell by 1,554 because 16,894 pulled down the shutters. The ongoing volatility in the sector is revealed by the latest research from The Local Data Company (LDC) and bira. It also showed that multiple retailers continue to close units. In the first half of 2018 the multiples had a net loss of -2,848 shops (-1.36%), which compares to -659 shops (-0.33%) in H1 2017. With 32,234 changes, independent activity actually rose in H1 2018 compared to the same period in 2017 when 28,076 opened (14,419) or closed (13,657). In 2018, Service retail (which covers barbers, hairdressers and tattoo parlours) was the only retail category to see growth, with a net increase of +104. Most bira members fall into the LDC’s Comparison goods (non-perishable goods) category. Here the net change in the number of shops was -1.63% (-0.74% in H1 2017), representing a net decrease of -1,394 units, much more than the -596 in H1 2017. The sectors in decline include women’s clothing and fashion shops, estate agents and newsagents. Andrew Goodacre, bira CEO, said: “This report perfectly illustrates the problems for independent retail businesses. Despite more businesses opening, we have seen more closing resulting in a net loss from the high street. bira have been saying for a long time that independent retailers need support from local and national governments. The recent budget announcements regarding a rates reduction and the setting up of a high street fund are very welcome and we hope it is not too late to provide a lifeline to these important businesses.” Most growth has been with barbers, beauty salons, tobacconists/e-cigarette shops, and mobile

phone shops. Vegan restaurants (+32%) and vaping/ tobacconists (+6.7%) have increased the most as a percentage of their total units. Leisure units, such as restaurants, cafes, bookmakers & entertainment, stayed at the same level as in H1 2017. Convenience retail (bakers, butchers, food shops, & supermarkets) saw a net decline of -264 units (-0.86%) in H1 2018 versus an increase of +24 units (+0.08%) in H1 2017. The North West showed the greatest increase of independents at +84 units (+0.71%) in H1 2018, versus +843 units (+0.71%) in H1 2017. Yorkshire & the Humber and Scotland showed the greatest decline of independents at -494 units (-1.64%) and -276 units (-0.40%) respectively. Independents account for 65% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain, the same as in H1 2017. Some 310,080 independent businesses were covered in this research. Top 10 independent openings by type

Category Barbers

Beauty Salons Tobacconists

Mobile Phones

Net change %

Units Net Change







133 88

Restaurant & Bar


Café & Tearoom



Convenience Stores




Nail Salons

Health Clubs






50 47

Table 1. Largest numbers of independent units opened by business type in H1 2018 across GB (Source: LDC)

Triple awards success for outdoors specialist PAUL BATTS, OWNER of the Outdoors and Active shop in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, is on a winning streak of competition success having had three accolades in recent months. In November the business was named one of the 25 finalists in the national Best Small Shops competition organised by Independent Retailers Confederation, which includes bira in its roster of trade associations. This was the first time Paul had put the business forward for an award and his was the only outdoors retailer in the final group. In December,, the sector’s trade title, named Outdoors and Active as the Best Independent Retailer in its Excellence Awards 2018. Soon after this, Paul heard that the shop was


shortlisted in the Weston Chamber of Commerce retailing awards. The winners will be announced in February. Paul set up the shop 12 years ago and runs it with his wife Julie, assisted by Pete Hughes, a regular part-timer who was a customer before joining the team. It is the official Scout shop and Cadet shop in the area. Paul, who prides himself on his community work, is chairman of Weston Business Improvement District (BID), which covers over 400 businesses in the town centre Also among the 25 Best Small Shops finalists was bira member Arragons Cycles of Penrith, run by Sarah and Phil Graham, who were profiled in the March 2018 edition of bira magazine.

Congratulations to Lynn Sharpe, who celebrated 25 years with bira in November, making her our longest-serving member of staff. Lynn works in Clearing, although over the years she has been in several departments.

Sell online the easy way with New River A NEW ONLINE marketplace for small independent retailers, As Seen On The High Street, which is linked to a national network of pop-up shops, has been set up by NewRiver REIT, a specialist retail & leisure property. The site, asseenonthehighstreet., allows independent businesses to sell online without the hassle of setting up their own website. Customers can see the products before they buy in pop-up shops across the UK. NewRiver owns 34 convenience and community shopping centres, plus retail warehouses and pubs up and down the country, from Hastings to Paisley. Its idea is for products being sold on the marketplace to be displayed for several weeks at one of the centres. The site will carry details of venues and products. Independents also can take physical space at one of the 34 centres. NewRiver says it understands that local independent retailers play an important role in the wider retail marketplace and community and so it is committed to helping support growing independent businesses. There are no upfront costs, listing charges or minimum sign-up period. NewRiver takes a commission of 10%. Interested retailers should contact NewRiver via the website



Pet shops protest at strict new rules BIRA HAS MADE representations to DEFRA to voice the concerns of pet shop owners who are critical of new regulations that came into force on 1 October 2018. The new Animal Activities Licensing (AAL) regulations replace several laws dating back to 1925. Now any business in England selling live animals or boarding cats or dogs will need a licence issued under the new regulations. The rules do not apply to activities such as pet sitting, grooming and dog walking. Concerned members have complained to bira that local councils, which issue the trading licences, are in danger of closing down traditional pet shops by rigorous enforcement of the new rules. One member, who has been trading for more than 30 years as a bird specialist, has been told that he has to change all his cages as they do not fit the exact measurements specified in the new law. This is even though his existing cages, in cubic feet, are considerably larger than what is required. Cages with the designated dimensions are not available commercially, he says. Another demand is that the shop keeps a daily “mood record” of the birds it sells. The owner told bira magazine: “I work so hard usually I don’t even have lunch. How am I supposed to find the time to note the mood of my canaries and zebra finches? And how do I describe the mood of them anyway?” The bira member, who wishes to remain anonymous so as not to antagonise the local council, believes the underlying aim is to close down shops that sell live animals to satisfy the demands of animal rights campaigners: “The regulations are set out in a 91-page document from DEFRA and the local authority officers have told us they intend to enforce every detail.” Andrew Goodacre, bira CEO, commented: “DEFRA has told us that it is too late to change the regulations and it will be down to the local authorities to how they interpret them. This appears to be another example of unnecessary legislation being loaded on to honest retailers. It shows again that bira as a trade association must keep up our pressure on the lawmakers when they are putting together new regulations. To do this effectively, we need our members to be fully involved and engaged with us.”


Footwear retailer Prégo has relocated to Shrewsbury’s premier retailing location, Market Square, after 13 years in its original shop in Fish Street. Owner Mark Edwards was approached by the landlord of his new premises and the opportunity to take a more prominent position in the town was too good to miss. Women’s brands stocked include Caprice, Irregular Choice and Moda in Pelle. Men’s include JefferyWest, Loake and Pantofola d’Oro. Mark has added men’s shirts by Claudio Lugli in his new location.

Reducing the card security burden THE PAYMENT CARD Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of protocols that all companies have to comply with. The aim is to ensure every company that accepts, processes, holds or transmits card information does so in a safe and secure manner. One of the best ways to do this is literally to reduce or remove the data that you store and limit the number of systems involved in the processing of card data. Global Payments, bira’s specialist partner, can advise members how to reduce their scope, secure their data and reduce the number of systems needed to ensure compliance. Global Fortress is a service designed to simplify the process for you to achieve and maintain PCI DSS compliance. As part of this service Global Payments gives customers access to Security Metrics,

its Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) partner and gives them access to the tools they need to highlight any actions the retailer may need to take.   The prospect of fraud is not a one-off battle. Businesses must be ready to combat it all the time. That’s why there is software that operates around the clock. Fraud Management Solutions helps optimise conversions so that genuine transactions are processed seamlessly and that irregular activity that could be fraud are investigated. Global Payments has a number of rules designed to spot this sort of activity, so members can rest assured their data is safe. For more information about how Global Payments can help your business, please call the team on 0345 702 3344.

Be ready to adapt in 2019, says bira president HOLD STEADY. BE prudent. Be cautious. But coming into us with problems on things they’ve don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. bought elsewhere. When they see the knowledge That is the message for bira memwe have, they tend to come back to us bers for 2019 from president Surinder first next time. And we have also seen Josan, who says that the multiples a lot more card payments, especially envy the ability of independents to via contactless.” react quickly to trading conditions. Now half way through his presi“As independents, we can be very dential year, Surinder has enjoyed quick to adapt to circumstances. The travelling the country meeting membig boys would love to be in our posibers: “It’s been good to see the success tion,” he says. “In my own business, Surinder Josan: we had in the budget with our camoptimistic for 2019 I am very upbeat and very confident paign for business rates reform." about whatever comes our way in 2019. We always Surinder has enjoyed working with bira’s new have lots of stock, but I've been buying even more.” CEO Andrew Goodacre: “It’s good to have someThe owner of All Seasons DIY in Smethwick, one looking at bira in an analytical way, through West Midlands, admits that 2018 was challeng- a fresh pair of eyes. Some of us have been in the ing, but also produced some positives: “Our sales association so long, maybe we can’t see the wood on Sundays rocketed. We have had more people for the trees.” JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019


Lakeland Leather boss speaks up for indie retailers THE PRESSURES FELT by independent retail- spoke to the committee immediately after they ers from rising people costs, long leases, an iniqui- had been addressed by Sports Direct and House tous business rates system and declining footfall of Fraser owner Mike Ashley. were explained to the Housing, Communities and Martin said: “I was a little despondent at first Local Government Committee at the Houses of Par- as the MPs’ session with Mike Ashley ran over as liament on 3 December by Martin Foster, CEO of they seemed to be scoring political party points by bira member Lakeland Leather. asking him about zero-hours Martin was suggested by contracts and House of Fraser bira when the committee asked gift cards, not the future of the us for an independent retailer high street. who traded in several parts “But once our session got of the country. As reported in going, I did feel they underbira magazine’s feature in the stood that we retailers are operOctober 2018 edition, leather ating under a considerable tax jacket specialist Lakeland has burden, that town centres have 15 stores from Cumbria to changed, probably for ever, and Somerset. that the structure of leases in Listing the “horrible costs” Martin Foster: telling MPs the the UK is so restrictive that it harsh realities of retailing life he operates under, Martin forces retailers to use insolvenpointed out to the MPs that his cy devices like CVAs when they people costs for shop staff had risen by 20% since want to reduce their burden, which actually make 2014. His rent bill is £1.2m, or about 10% of the no commercial sense to either tenant or landlord. company’s turnover, but the rates bill costs £0.5m “I did think, however, the MPs showed their on top. “And I’m not sure what I get for that,” he lack of basic knowledge about retailing by calling observed. In one of his stores, rates amount to 62% this meeting on a Monday, when we’d all normally of the rents bill, in another it’s only 28%. The cur- be in our weekly trading meetings!” rent rates system, he said, doesn’t make sense. The proceedings can be viewed on parliamenMartin, who appeared with a representative for 3 December. The meeting started at from Marks & Spencer and one from New Look, 15.32 and Martin’s session began at 16.53.

bira calls for mental health First Aid training BIRA CEO ANDREW Goodacre has co-signed a letter to the prime minister with other business leaders calling for mental health provisions to be added to health and safety in the workplace regulations. The letter noted that each year workplace mental health issues cost the UK economy almost £35bn, with 12.5m working days lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. The cost is not just financial because left untreated mental ill health impacts a person’s relationships with friends and family and ultimately their quality of life. Requiring employers to implement some basic steps to protect an employee’s mental health makes would reduce these impacts. The letter added: “Success will ensure employees across the country JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

can access a trained staff member to receive initial support and guidance if they are dealing with a mental health issue at work. Success will ensure every employee has the right to a mentally healthy environment.” Andrew added: “We are fully in support of retailers getting greater knowledge of dealing with mental health issues as part of their First Aid training. This will not only help employees but will also give employers the ability to deal with any physical or mental health problems that arise. It is important, however, that this isn’t just another burden for business owners, so it needs to be handled as part of the training they would already have to support physical health.”

Want to join the bira board? BIRA WOULD WELCOME members nominating themselves to join its Board of Management for 2019-2021. Retailers from many sectors and from all over the country make up the board, which guides the vital work bira does for the independent community. If you want to offer your input to bira’s activities and policies, please contact to find out more about the board and to have the process for self-nomination explained.

Six of the best

In 2019 members will receive bira magazine every two months. We have taken the decision to reduce the frequency of the title from 10 issues a year in an effort to reduce costs. We will continue, however, to focus on delivering a highquality publication offering insight to the retail sector and information to help independent retail business owners.

NEW NOTES FOR NORTHERN IRELAND New £10 and £5 notes with a vertical design and in the polymer format will be issued in Northern Ireland on 27 February. The Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank will introduce both valuations, but Danske Bank will issue only £10 notes. Unlike Bank of England notes, the existing £10 and £5 notes will always be legal currency, so although they will start to be withdrawn, they still can be used in the future. Meanwhile, the introduction of a new Bank of England £20 note has now been put back to the first half of 2020. A new polymer £50 note is not expected to appear until 2023.


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At the sharp end bira wants to ensure laws on knife sales are realistic for retailers BIRA HAS WORKED with the Home Office for several years to help tackle knife crime but also to protect the rights of retailers who legitimately sell everyday sharp objects. In 2018, this activity was ramped up after the announcement of the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy and the proposed Offensive Weapons Bill 201719, which outlined more restrictions on the sale of products containing acid and objects that could be viewed as weapons. The latest initiative put forward by the Home Office was for retailers to sell knives only from a locked glass cabinet or an obscured cabinet like cigarettes have to be placed in. At the end of 2018 bira presented reasons why this approach is not workable for its members at a meeting with the Home Office. Vin Vara from The Toolshop Group and bira’s commercial director Jeff Moody provided evidence to show the government that it simply is not practical to lock away all potentially dangerous items in a retail business as independent retailers are likely to have small stores and will not have the space available. There also would be a cost involved, which would be a challenge for many retailers. Additionally, there is unclear guidance on what even constitutes a potential weapon. bira is calling for clarity on this essential point. Government offiJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

cials agreed with bira’s comments and acknowledged that it is more workable for retailers to keep knives in an area that customers cannot access, such as behind the counter rather than in a locked cabinet. Vin, who is bira’s spokesperson on the topic, told bira magazine: “We’ve been attending lots of meetings in recent months on the subject of knives and we’ve been working with manufacturers, suppliers, bricks-and- mortar retailers, online retailers and other associations and groups to help the government. We are at loggerheads with the government over online sales of knives because they do not want them to be delivered to a residential address, but we will continue to work on this so that a sensible solution is found for all.” Representatives of bira including Vin, Alan Wood from Trevor Mottram in Tunbridge Wells, Haresh Patel from Tylers of Notting Hill, cookshop veteran Gary Gordon and Holly Wilson from London-based Prep Cookshop and Richard Dare (the subject of this issue’s cover feature) also attended a focus group with the Metropolitan Police in November last year. The session was organised to gain feedback directly from retailers on potential educational videos for retail staff to be used when selling knives. The day was run by the Met and MOPAC,

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. bira believes education of staff is important and the educational videos that the Met Police is looking at are a welcome tool for spreading the message of who can purchase a knife and who cannot, and what staff should do when dealing with a potential sale they are unsure of. bira will continue to work with the Home Office and other bodies including the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to support the fight against knife and corrosive substances crimes. One of the biggest goals of bira is to get clarity on what retailers need to do and to make it workable for those that legitimately sell knives and sharp objects. bira will keep members up to date with any changes to the law and their obligations as a retailer as and when they are implemented. bira wants any retailers that the proposed legislation would affect, if it goes through, to get in touch to support the arguments and evidence being presented to the Home Office. If you are in any doubt of your current obligations when it comes to the sale of potentially dangerous weapons or the sale of products containing acid, always refer to for guidance. And make sure that all your staff are aware of their responsibilities too.



The important HR changes for 2019 In 2018, employers had to grapple with GDPR and gender pay reporting. What’s in store this year? March 2019 - Brexit Under the EU Settlement Scheme, EU workers will be able to obtain settled or pre-stettled status. This will allow them to live and work in the UK after 31 December 2020. To achieve settled status, EU citizens will be required to have lived continuously in the UK for a period of five years. If an EU citizen has less than five years’ continuous residence, they will be issued pre-settled status. The government has said that the scheme will be open fully in March 2019. At the time of writing, it is not yet known how non-UK resident EU citizens will be affected by Brexit.

April 2019 - National Minimum Wage The National Living Wage (the rate for those who are 25 or over) will rise from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour. On the National Minimum Wage (for those aged under 25), the hourly rates will increase: lF  rom £7.38 to £7.70 for 21-24-year-olds; l f rom £5.90 to £6.15 for 18-20 year olds; l f rom £4.20 to £4.35 for 16-17 year olds; l f rom 3.70 to £3.90 for apprentices. To avoid falling foul of minimum wage rules, contact bira legal on 0345 450 0937. April 2019 - Payslips As of April 2019, the right to an itemised pay statement will be extended to cover workers. At present, this right is only afforded to employees. Furthermore, changes are coming to effect in regard to what needs to be shown on the pay statement. Employers will need to state the number of hours for which they are paying the employee on

the pay statement in cases where the employee’s wages vary in accordance to how much they have worked. The employer must either show the total number of hours worked for which payment is being made or provide the figures for different types of work worked or different rates of pay. What else is on the horizon? A new right to paid leave and pay for bereaved parents is expected to enter into force in 2020. Finally, there may be some movement following the recent consultations on the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, which considered the definitions of workers and employees in light of recent gig economy cases currently going through the courts.


To discuss any of these changes, contact bira legal on 0345 450 0937 or email bira@

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The retail software you need for Making Tax Digital Does your retail business have the right software solutions in place so you’ll be compliant with Making Tax Digital this year? Vend, bira’s approved retail Epos, is here to make sure all your bases are covered for Making Tax Digital in 2019. It’s likely you’ve already heard of Making Tax Digital (MTD), a government initiative aiming to transform the UK tax system by 2020. Nearly 3m businesses will be affected when it comes into effect on 1 April 2019. It’s essential that retailers make sure they have a compliant digital solution ahead of the changes. MTD will affect retailers in two key ways: lY  ou must use MTD-compliant software to keep a digital record of VAT transactions lY  ou must use MTD-compliant software to submit VAT returns on a quarterly basis Basically, all retail businesses will need to keep a digital record of all transactions including digitally storing sale prices, costs, taxes, etc. That means if you’re still doing manual transfers or storing records in a shoebox, you won’t be compliant under MTD. Vend can help get you ready for MTD Vend allows retailers to run their entire retail business digitally and pushes all digital sales, transactions, stock orders and cost of goods sold (COGS) on a daily basis to our partner accounting platform, Xero. Vend and Xero are integrated platforms, meaning information is transferred seamlessly, so no double entry is required. Xero is MTDcompatible software meaning a retailer will be able to file their VAT returns online. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

Dates for your diary This year bira has two very special anniversaries to celebrate – the 120th anniversary of bira’s foundations being laid and the 90th programme run by OSS Retail (formerly Oxford Summer School). As well as our local celebrations, we list here a few other dates that you may wish to add to your calendar for the first half of the year.* LAMMA 8 -9 January, NEC Birmingham Top Drawer 13-15 January, Olympia London

Not sure where to begin? Here’s how to get started: Research cloud Epos systems. Start looking immediately if you aren’t currently using one. We recommend taking trials to make sure the software is a good fit for your business. If you have an Epos system, look into integrating it with your accounting system as soon as possible.

Maison & Objet 18-22 January, Parc des Expositions, Paris Nord Villepinte

Look for a certified accounting system. Ma ke sure that your accounting system will be certified under MTD. If it’s not, start researching other options. We recommend finding an accounting system that integrates with your ePOS.

Christmasworld 25-29 January, Frankfurt am Main

Talk to your accountant. Getting professional advice is crucial. We recommend contacting your accountant or bookkeeper for more information on MTD and what it means for your business.

To find out more about Vend, get in touch with our friendly team. Go to to sign up for a free 30-day trial or give us a call on 020 3868 3219. Mention you’re a bira member to unlock exclusive offers.

January Furniture Show 20-23 January, NEC Birmingham Scotland’s Trade Fair 20-22 January, SEC, Glasgow BTME (BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition) 22-24 January, Harrogate Convention Centre Jacket Required 23-24 January, Old Truman Brewery, London

INDX Intimate Apparel AW19 17 - 19 February, Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull Moda 17-19 February, NEC Birmingham OSS Retail Masters

25-28 Feb, Saïd Business School, Oxford

INDX Accessories AW19 26 - 28 March, Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull Brexit deadline 29 March Making Tax Digital Effective from 1 April Submit your sales data for your bira Quarterly Sales Monitor 1 April. Look out for our email

Harrogate Fashion Week 27-28 January, Harrogate Convention Centre

RBTE (Retail Business Technology Expo) 1-2 May, Olympia, London

INDX Menswear AW19 27 - 29 January, Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull

bira Training, Visual Merchandising / Window Displays 21 May, bira head office, Birmingham

Cookshop, Housewares and Gift Retail Barometer

February. Contribute to the 2019 Retail Barometer in conjunction with Progressive Housewares magazine

Spring Fair 2019 3 - 7 February, NEC Birmingham Ambiente 2019 8 - 12 February, Frankfurt am Main PATS Sandown 10-11 February, Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher, Surrey INDX Kidswear AW19 10 - 11 February, Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull Pure London 10-12 February, Olympia London Scoop 10-12 February, Saatchi Gallery, London

bira Training, Buying & Merchandising 22 May, bira Head Office, Birmingham Royal Cornwall Show 6-8 June, Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge, Cornwall Exclusively Housewares 11 - 12 June, Business Design Centre, London Digital – Transforming Retail from OSS Retail 12-13 June, McCann Manchester, Bonis Hall Royal Highland Show 20-23 June, Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh Tendence June– 1 July, Frankfurt am Main *Have we missed any major event of

interest to bira members? Let us know via



Dogged devotion When Nicola and Michael Sacher could not find dog products to suit their own home, they started a business that now serves the cream of department stores around the globe. Welcome to the stylish world of Mungo & Maud. MUNGO & MAUD sells products for dogs and cats, but it is hardly your average pet shop. This premium-level business is better described as a lifestyle store for people who own dogs and cats. It’s the requirements of human customers that concern Michael and Nicola Sacher. The husband-and-wife team got the idea for their venture almost 15 years ago when they could not find products for their first dog, George the English setter, that suited their own home. They wanted something stylish and tasteful as well as functional. The choice was almost nonexistent. Michael recalls: “What we wanted were stylish well-designed accessories to fit in with the environment we had created in our home. When we looked around, we soon thought we must be able to improve, in design, fabrication and quality, what was available. Nicola started to work on design, we had them produced and it all took off very quickly from May 2005.” Named after a fictitious dog and cat – “We liked the way Mungo & Maud sounded” – the business started with a shop although trading online was added soon after. Luckily, in retrospect, the couple did not get the first unit they were targeting. “I was absolutely dead set on a certain location in Chelsea, but we kept hitting snags with it. One day a friend suggested Elizabeth Street in Belgravia. It was such a lucky turn of events for us. We opened there 13 years ago.” Just off Eaton Square in the heart of one of London’s most exclusive residential areas, Elizabeth Street boasts a delightful stretch of mainly upmarket independent businesses. Mungo & Maud’s neighbours include Royal florist Moyses Stevens, celebrity milliner Philip Treacy, premium perfumery Les Senteurs and luxury cake


maker Peggy Porschen. From its compact 300sq ft corner shop, Mungo & Maud soon caught the attention of Harrods, which is located less than a mile away. The Sachers have had a concession there for 10 years and has been Harrods’ sole specialist supplier of dog and cat accessories since the store closed its own Pet Kingdom five years ago. “Harrods approached us. It’s a great opportunity when something like that happens,” Michael explains. “Although close, the two locations serve very different markets. In Elizabeth Street we have our core of local regular customers, augmented by tourists and people from other parts of London, plus lots of overseas customers, some of whom may live in London for part of the year. “The huge benefit from Harrods, apart from serving its many customers, is the exposure it gives to potential wholesale customers globally. It’s a very effective high-profile showcase for us.” Mungo & Maud’s stockists include or have included premium department stores such as Holt Renfrew in Toronto, Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Brown Thomas in Dublin, Printemps and Le Bon Marche in Paris and Isetan in the Shinbuku district of Tokyo. The business has had a distributor in Japan for five years. It also sells to some premium lifestyle stores around the world. “Last year we were asked to do a popup store in Jelmoli, the innovative department store in Zurich, and that has led to a permanent presence there. Typically, we are positioned in the homeware or gifting areas of a store – and there is usually nothing else like us on offer.” High-profile collaborations have included projects with Mulberry, US denim brand Paige, Peanuts for Snoopy,

Michael and Nicola Sacher, plus Rupert the English setter, in their stylishly-appointed Elizabeth Street shop. At below right, their concession in Harrods



to style

MUNGO & MAUD 79 Elizabeth Street, London SW1W 9PJ Shop opened: 5/05/05 at 5pm. Harrods concession opened: 2008. Size of store: 300sq ft sales area. Size of concession in Harrods: 500sq ft Shop opening hours: Mon-Sat 9-6 bira member since: 2005  @mungoandmaud  @MungoandMaud


and Kingsman, the film franchise connected with Savile Row. Virtually everything Mungo & Maud sells is exclusive to the business, with books the obvious exception. Nicola is the creative director and the products are made mainly in the Far East or Europe. It is, unapologetically, a very premium offer. The largest dog bed is £279.50, plaited leather dog collars are £117.50, and a sixpiece catnip-filled Choco-chip Cookies Cat Toy Set in felt is £25. It even has a dog fragrance, Petite Amande, at £45.50 for a 50ml / 1.7fl.oz bottle for those owners who don’t enjoy the aroma of, say, a damp pooch. “I can see why some people would regard these as high prices, but we care about what we make. Everything is done to the highest standards and we work only on reasonable margins,” says Michael. “We also take into account practicality when designing products. For us, it’s about the people, who live with or know a dog or cat, not just the creature. Our customers have a certain lifestyle and they want to buy our products because they fit in with how they live their lives, how they perceive themselves and the things that surround them.” Leads, collars and beds tend to be best-sellers, but Mungo & Maud also offers beautifully-made toys, accessories like soft wool blankets at £199 and practical clothing such as a quilted dog coat at £149.50. It also has organic dog treats like pumpkin-flavoured biscuits at £17.95 for 350g / 12.3oz, which are presented in a hessian drawstring bag. Mungo & Maud is run as a tight-knit family business with a strong and compact team. Just over 12 months ago, the Sachers took the plunge and updated four old systems to achieve one integrated IT system. “We moved the website to a Magento platform, which nearly killed us,” says Michael, slightly wincing at the memory. “I researched the market and

eventually took a best-of-breed approach across the inventory, accounting and Epos functions. We found that was the best solution for a small company like ours. “Despite the delays in implementation and the considerable headaches it all caused, it has been worth it as it’s allowing our people, including me, to do better, more interesting work.” The attention to detail and the cheery corporate identity at Mungo & Maud is impressive. Nicola’s career before becoming a designer for the brand was directing television commercials. Michael had more grounding in retailing as his grandmother was the daughter of Michael Marks, the co-founder of Marks & Spencer. She married Harry Sacher, a lawyer who was a director of M&S from the 1930s onwa rd s. For a period in the 1990s Michael worked for what he refers to as “the family firm” before fulfilling a desire to run his own company with Mungo & Maud. The business has had a dedicated website for north America for six years, as well as the main website, which was set up within a year of the brand's debut. So, how much does Michael know about his customers and communicate with them? “We know a lot about them, but the question is what to do with the information. We have a small group of customers who spend a great deal with us, so we are keen to keep them satisfied. We have almost never done any paid advertising, but we have used a mixture of in-house and agency PRs. Last year we stepped up our social media activity. We contact all of our customers once or twice a month with our email newsletter.” The focus for the business going forward is to expand into more global markets. Michael’s retailing mantra is a sensible one: “Listen to everyone’s opinion, then go with your own mind. Pay attention to what works. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on.”


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Getting into gardening Springtime is boom time for retailers serving gardeners. Are you making the most of the potential of this huge area? GARDENING IS BIG business. In a recent report by Oxford Economies for the Horticultural Trades Association (the HTA), household purchases of garden supplies and equipment totalled £5.6bn in 2017. In terms of general retailing, (that is, not including sales at garden centres,) horticulture totalled £4.8bn in 2017. With reportedly 27m people partaking in the pastime, there are plenty of potential customers for you. It is all about being prepared for the changes in weather, having a simple range of products, and, oh, apparently stocking bird food! The retail view Janet Rogers, who has owned Llanfyllin Home and Garden in Powys for nearly 21 years, says: “When we first started, we sold loads of loose seed-potatoes and had sacks of loose peas, beans and onion sets. After a couple of seasons of throwing whole sacks of these away we greatly curtailed our ‘loose’ offer. “In later years we have relied on Stax to provide us with a few pre-packs with pretty coloured images on the front, which seem to sell better. We can just buy a few at a time with no risk. Again, when we started, we sold masses of flower and veg seeds and had three separate supplier stands but now we just stick to the Johnson’s Seeds pre-chosen offer, which we buy in February. The good thing about Johnson’s Seeds is that any unsold during the season can be returned in the autumn for a credit against the next season’s order. “With the advent of garden make-over programmes such as Ground Force, younger home owners in particular tended to want instant colour and instant results, whereas many of our older customers would grow their own potatoes, peas, beans etc. Over the years the number of real gardeners has declined and many people now prefer to buy full-size plants and shop-bought veg, rather than rely on the vagaries of the weather to produce a decent crop. “Where we have seen an increase in business however is in our pet food and wild bird care offer. Many of our regular customers spend so much on the birds I sometimes feel they are eating better than the customers are!” The supplier view Terry Murphy, key accounts manager at Stax, a wholesaler offering preferential rates and rebates JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

through bira direct, says: “For most gardeners the season starts with the Easter holidays, which are quite late this year (19-21 April), so stores definitely need to be set up fully for this spike in sales. “Keen gardeners will be out in the garden once the weather warms up so depending on how this fares, the gardening season can start quite early, which is why it’s imperative to have ranges and product readily available from February onwards. “Early seasonal jobs in the garden include the continuation of tidying and pruning back along with the purchases of propagation items such as seed and plug trays. Trees, shrubs and hedges will be fed by keen gardeners with the likes of slow-release fertilisers at this time also. “Cleaning slimy patches from patios and paths will also take place at this time, so cleaning products and brushes should be in stock.”


To see the full range of suppliers offering gardening products, please take a look at your Membership Directory or visit

Leading gardening brands WOLF-Garten, Wilkinson Sword and Town & Country are now also available through Stax. These high profile, premium gardening brands provide all the tools and accessories a gardener needs.

Over the years the number of real gardeners has declined and many people now prefer to buy full-size plants and shop-bought veg Janet Rogers, owner of Llanfyllin Home and Garden, Powys

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Daring to be


Some independents take a long time to open a second shop. Many never bother. Holly Wilson decided to do it the hard way by taking over a long-established business only two years after opening her first shop. The owner of Prep Cookshop and Richard Dare in north London clearly is a retailer who is up for a challenge LIKE MOST ASPIRING independent retailers, Holly Wilson had in her mind’s eye exactly how she wanted her shop to look. She wanted to preside over a rather cool, rather beautiful, cookshop, with minimal displays of carefullyselected special products on show. Price was not going to be a major concern. It was going to be the sort of place she wanted to shop in but could not find. So much for the theory. Reality made its presence felt very soon after Holly opened Prep Cookshop on Stoke Newington Church Street in north London in February 2014. The sparse displays of expensive goods made the shop resemble an art gallery, but they did not hold the interest of the local customers. “You could certainly see the shelves back then, but people came in, couldn’t see what they were looking for among the sparse displays, so walked out,” Holly remembers. “I had to change my merchandising mix pretty quickly.” Today’s Prep is a very attractive cookshop trading across compact ground and basement floors. While it is not as minimally stocked as it was, it retains a stylish ambience and the products have clearly been selected with someone with a great fashion eye. Fashion was, in fact, Holly’s profession before she became an independent retailer. She spent 10 years as a garment technologist, working for companies like Coast and Whistles to ensure that their clothes met the correct technical standards. It’s a job where attention to detail and understanding how things perform to do the job they are meant to do is essential. It’s proved to be good training. Holly has two children, Tabitha, who is seven, and Archie, who is five. It was when she was on her second stint of maternity leave that she began to think it was time for a

new career because as a garment technologist she had to spend a lot of time travelling to factories in Asia. “Even as a teenager, I fancied having a shop. Originally I was interested in a fashion shop but having lived just 10 minutes’ walk away from Stoke Newington Church Street for five years, I began to think what it was missing was a really good cookshop. It’s a bit of a foodie area and a lot of the residents work in creative or design-led industries, so I thought it was a good idea,” she recalls. Church Street, which has a strong selection of independents was her chosen location, but it took 18 months to find the right premises at the right rent, so there was plenty of time to clarify the concept. “I wanted it to be a really practical shop, filled with products that everyone would need, but beautiful products. I didn’t want to compete with John Lewis and I didn’t want it to be one of those cookshops that has so much stuff you can’t see what you are looking for.” As well as presenting more stock, Holly rejigged her pricing architecture soon after opening, keeping her topend products but dropping her entry price points: “Not enough people wanted to pay £12 for a quirky mug.” There was also an insight into the local clientele: “Stoke Newington is an interesting district, with a very familyoriented community. Parts of it are down-and-dirty and border some of the rougher parts of Hackney. The houses here are expensive but no one has much disposable income because they all have huge mortgages to pay! Superficially, it feels affluent but it’s not.” Today Prep Cookshop has its more design-led products, gadgets and gifts on the ground floor area, while the larger and more practical products are kept downstairs. An idea of Holly’s original vision is seen in the bespoke shelf units 

I wanted my cookshop to be filled with practical but beautiful products. I didn't want it to be one of those shops with so much stuff you can't see what you are looking for Holly Wilson, owner of Prep & Richard Dare

Photographs: Peter Searle


on the ground floor, which were made a local craftsman using copper tubing. Customers regularly ask if they can buy the shelves. Once she was up and running, Holly learned just how demanding the role of an independent retailer is. Every day she would update an Excel spreadsheet with her sales information (this was before she graduated to a Vend Epos system). Even before she opened, to find her products she was a regular at trade fairs like Top Drawer and Exclusively Housewares in London, soon adding Ambiente in Frankfurt and Maison et Objet in Paris to her calendar. Once established, news travelled fast about her shop and she has been regularly approached by suppliers ever since: “Once you have one thing from a supplier, it’s easy to take on something else.” She admits too to being very adept at “Instagram cruising”. The compact space is used well, so Prep offers a comprehensive selection of products ranging from a Zone silicone trivet at £6.99 to a Kai Shun Made-in-Japan knife at £199. Coffee-making equipment is a regular seller and Holly has been selling about five reusable keep cups a day since the publicity about avoiding disposable cups. Within a year of opening and getting her mix right, Holly wanted to open a second branch as the small Stoke Newington shop was always going to have a finite turnover, but she could not find a suitable area that was not already served with a decent cookshop. There was nowhere for her to shoehorn Prep 2 into. She had asked friendly reps to keep her informed on any opportunities and through this network she heard that a well-known cookshop character, Lionel Vincent, who had run Richard Dare in Primrose Hill, just north of Regents Park, for 20 years, was planning to retire.


PREP COOKSHOP 106 Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, London N16 0LA Founded: 2014 Size of store: 450q ft ground floor Staff: 1 full-timer, 4 part-timers Open: Mon-Sat 9.30-5.30 Sun 11-5 Brands include: Broste Copenhagen, Dexam, Eddingtons, Hario, Kuhn Rikon, Lodge, Rosti Metal, Silverwood, Taylors Eye Witness, Zone Annual sales: £250,000   @prepcookshop  @prepcookshop

RICHARD DARE 93 Regent’s Park Road, Primrose Hill, London NW1 8UR Founded: 1969 Acquired: 2016 Size of store: 600sq ft ground floor Staff: 1 full-timer, 2 part-timers Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9-5.30 Sun 10-5 Brands include: Broste Copenhagen, Dexam, Eddingtons, Ferm Living, Kinto, Rosti Metal, Staub, Stelton, Silverwood, Taylors Eye Witness, Zone Annual sales: £270,000 @richarddarecookshop  @Richarddarecookshop bira member since: 2014

In April 2017, a little over three years after opening Prep, Holly bought the Ricard Dare business and immediately set about gutting the two floors of the shop. “My father is good on DIY, so I got him involved and we lifted floors and tackled the damp. It took us from April until June.” Looking back now, Holly cannot decide whether her decision was brave or stupid. It was, she says, quite terrifying to take on a business which had been something of a high-level cookshop institution for the 48 years since Richard Dare himself opened up. It is the sort of cookshop that attracts professional chefs. Although the second shop is only five miles from the first – Holly likes to cycle between the two, which takes 25 minutes, rather than going by Tube, which can take over an hour – it presented a noticeably different demographic. And not everyone was pleased to see a newcomer taking over from the well-established previous owner. “Primrose Hill is super-affluent. There are 1970s hippies with old money, there are the bankers who moved in during the 1980s and there are the new rich, particularly Americans whose companies spends lots of money on making them feel comfortable in London,” Holly explains. “Some JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019


Main photo and images at left and below right: Views of Richard Dare in Primrose Hill. Photos at right: The basement and ground floors of Prep in Stoke Newington

of the locals, including other retailers, were quite vocal and mean about my plans for the shop. I brought in cheaper lines, which some people complained weren’t expensive enough, but I couldn’t survive selling just Ruffoni copper pans at £450 a time. It took me about nine months to win everyone over.” The Primrose Hill shop is similar to Stoke Newington in that it trades across ground floor and basement, but it is somewhat bigger and with its pared-back wooden floorboards and substantial wooden shelves, it has a different feel. While there is some overlap on products, Richard dare has a more high-priced and refined selection. Having two shops that were two different companies was, predictably enough, “a logistical nightmare”, so a full-time manager was hired for Richard Dare. Holly now spends a day a week in each branch and the rest of the time she is, in her own words, “the admin queen”. She has become well-known in cookshop circles thanks to a bi-monthly column she writes for Progressive Housewares magazine, covering topics that concern her and other owners, such as business rates and the changing relationship with suppliers that sell online. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

She is also vocal on her experience of operating in two London boroughs. “My first shop is in Hackney, which is massively supportive of the high street and wants to keep the independents open in places like Stoke Newington. The council organised extra business rates relief and applied it to my bill without me having to apply. I am paying less than half of what I should be on rates,” says Holly. “Camden, on the other hand, doesn’t give a damn. Even when the whole street in Primrose Hill puts together a petition about something, we are just ignored.” As soon as she opened Prep, Holly joined bira, attracted by the advantageous credit card fees and the supplier discounts available through bira direct. She has been active in the bira cookshop community and recently she has been part of the bira contingent advising the Home Office and Metropolitan Police on their strategy to reduce knife-related crime (see page 7). In 2016 Holly joined Trouva, the online site that sells the products of independent boutiques. Using it for Prep only (Richard Dare does not have a website), she is happy with the experience, although admits she should be making better use

of the opportunity by loading more products to the site. As always for an independent, time is in short supply. “I was attracted to Trouva as I needed an online presence and I didn’t have the time or the money to do it properly myself,” Holly explains. “I can’t abide websites that don’t work efficiently and I didn’t want to be one of those. We have very little storage space and my stock holding is small, so it would be difficult to run my own site. I liked the idea of Trouva as it only works with independent boutiques.” Trouva charges 20% on all transactions and although Holly thinks she could do more, it already accounts for 8% of her turnover. The physical shops trade seven days a week and although she employed a full-time manager for Prep for the first time last year, Holly knows she is the face of her brand. “I am never not on call,” she admits. Almost five years later, Holly has no regrets about her change of career: “I became an independent retailer knowing it would be hard work. I thought I would be able to work more flexibly, but it has not turned out like that. I work evenings and I work weekends, but I love it.”


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Parting is such sweet sorrow Last September, after 40 years in the business, Hilary Cookson closed Maureen Cookson, the award-winning womenswear shop her mother had established in 1956. Here she reflects on that momentous decision.

Our last day was a party day and the nearest thing to attending my own funeral JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

SOME MONTHS AGO I wrote an article about the move towards closing my fashion shop, Maureen Cooksons of Whalley in Lancashire. It was an iconic store founded by my mother in 1956. A survivor of several recessions, dips and challenges, it became a victim to a lack of succession, bank personal guarantees and the demise of my own local high street. I approached a company that specialises in Closing Down Sales, but I didn’t progress that any further when I learned they charged 11% of all takings. When I asked what we got for that, it seemed to be advertising and a database. Well, we had those already, so I chose to ignore GDPR, working on the principle I needed everyone on my database to hear the news (and then sign up). Thus we built a campaign of media, radio and leaflets advertising my Retirement Sale. There was a phone-in programme on the local radio for customers to tell the stories of their visits. I had a whole radio prog to myself to talk about the history of the shop. The local rag ran a front-page feature, free of charge, the week of the sale. We maxxed out on social media. I wanted it to be a great story, but more than that I wanted free advertising to bring those customers in one last time. The last day, 29 September, was a party day. We served champagne throughout and I can only describe it as the nearest thing to attending my own funeral, complete with floral arrangements, letters and cards from folk who wished us all well. We ramped up the music and ended up selling everything off for £10 a garment. From 11,000 sq ft of retail space, we were left with one rail of garments, which went off to a charity. All credit to my staff who were at the coal face all day as customers lamented our demise and speculated where they were going to go now for clothes and shoes. Our stock answer to many was: “Wherever you’ve been going for the past five years.” Those who had been in business locally, or still are, shook me by the hand and looked me in the eye, saying, “Good for you.” They understand the pain of standing still and better still understand the hardest decision is when to say “Enough”. Getting out was very complicated, not least with 35 staff who we worked out had over 400 years of service. Several are over retirement age,

so their pay-out was a welcome end to a career. Some wanted to carry on working. All were placed immediately with long service at Maureen Cookson being an automatic reference. Me? Well, I am still working through accountants and advisors and closing things down. No delegation on tasks now. I have had to learn all the things I had staff to do historically! Every day is still a school day. I am hoping to walk away with nothing - and trust me, that would be a great outcome. Personal guarantees and the loans I have taken out to reinvent the business over the past five years need to be paid. My sympathies are with House of Fraser and Debenhams when the experts say they need to create theatre and invest in refits. We did all that, in our own small way, but you have to pay it back, folks. What next? My financial advisor has assured me I can retire well for around half an hour. I don’t want to start to draw my pension, so having thought in the past year that my ambition had evaporated, I find I am starting to get my head back over the parapet. I am looking to see who might want some part-time, eager, retail-loving input from a serial shopkeeper. I haven’t once looked back or regretted my decision to work in retail over the past 40 years. Nor have I thought it was the wrong time to get out. Certainly I feel sure it’s the right time to get back in again, but this time all I want is to leave work and go home and drink that glass of wine socially and not because it’s my only friend at the end of a very tough day.

Have your say Would you like to share your views and experiences with the bira community? We welcome contributions like Hilary Cookson's. You can write under your own name or under a pseudonym. You can contribute regularly or occasionally. If you are interested, please email



FOR PRICING, DEALS AND UPDATES Height; 35cm Width: 35cm Depth: 27cm





Remember that customers generally don't mind paying more for a good experience to move of your old stock or even sell more new products. Staff working in your store can manage your online outlet and your existing store room can handle more, can’t it? More income for the same cost? We’ll take it!

Increasing your profit margins Profit margins in the retail sector are often tight. Between buying stock, paying staff and renting space, independent retailing is a high-cost form of commerce. Here London-based Cottons Chartered Accountants suggest eight ways to increase your bottom line. Placement power Let’s start with the basics: big hitters at the door and up-sellers near the till. Place your most crowd-pleasing products near the doors and in your windows to attract more people into your store. By doing this, you’ll increase the number of people entering your business, make visitors more likely to pick something up immediately and encourage them to browse right up to the till where they’ll pick up one of your strategically placed accessories. By increasing sales, you’ll maximise your return on running costs. It costs the same to hire a member of staff for a day no matter if they manage 10 sales or 30, so it makes sense to consider how to sell more on their time. Go for software or go home Forget your old till system and desktop accounting programme. Smart tills and cloud-based record keeping are where it’s at. For retailers, these innovations have proved to be game-changing because they drastically decrease the amount of time being spent on data entry. That’s great news for those who have lots of transactions. By moving to new systems, retailers can save both money and time spent on admin, thus having more cash in the bank, not to mention time available to spend on selling and business development. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

Deal or no deal If The Banker calls and offers you the following deal - Pay your suppliers what they ask and on their terms - do not take it. Always negotiate with your suppliers, ask for discounts when ordering in bulk amounts and so, compare rival supplier prices regularly and, if you have a good relationship with them, you can always ask for stock to be sent before you pay to help with cash flow. More is more Consider your prices and do not be scared to increase them! After all, as rents increase along with living wages, so too must the cost of the items you sell. Constantly check what rivals are charging and remember, customers generally don’t mind paying more for a good experience. This is something that should be kept in mind when hiring. Investing time in your business can often return as much as investing funds. Think Deliveroo Deliveroo has enabled restaurants to extend their earning potential beyond the number of seats in their restaurants and there’s no reason retailers can’t harness the power of the internet to do the same. By having a transactional website or using an online marketplace, you can reach more people

How are you managing? To increase your profit margins, you must always be on top of what’s coming in and going out. This will allow you to make better buying, not to mention other spending, decisions. You can monitor costs, review staff hours, rent and rates by utilising monthly management accounts and these need not be expensive either. They now go hand in hand with the software mentioned earlier and trust us, better accounting solutions and sound knowledge of your finances will mprove any business. Brand power Earlier we noted that consumers are often OK with paying more when they get a better experience but there’s another reason they’ll do it – when they recognise the brand. Invest in your shop’s brand, establish your culture and the service levels you want to give. By creating a community, you can nail your marketing by attracting a loyal following, ensure repeat custom and get people talking. It costs nothing to establish your tone and once your brand is in demand, you can always afford to charge a little more. Think inside the box Have you got space on your shop floor? Unused room above or beneath your shop? Then think how you could use it to generate income. Could you rent out space on your shop floor to complementary brands? Or even be more creative? Stores are introducing nail bars, coffee shops, even tattoo studios. This two-fold trick can bring in rental fees, but also more consumers to your store. And, if it’s not shop floor space, you can rent out other areas to freelancers or small businesses to use as desk space. Just check with your landlord or local authority first. Thank you, come back again Over and above these general tips and tricks, increasing your profit margin is largely down to your business individually but savvy cash flow management, a great team, staying on top of retail trends and knowing where you’re going will always leave you in good stead.



Getting smart about security: prevention is better than cure We’ve asked experts on security products to tell us what they think about new smart technology and what are the best methods for protecting your business and homes ARE YOU SELLING home security products to your customers, but neglecting to protect your own business adequately? Or do you want to put some smart measures in place to make it harder for your business or home to be a target of crime? Matt Parkes from German security specialist Burg-Wachter says smart locks, alarms and CCTV are the current buzz words when it comes to both shop and home security: “The big trend is definitely towards the “smart home” and integrating locks and alarms as part of this, alongside CCTV.” The latest products in security technology let you monitor and control your home or business from your smartphone. Wireless security cameras and motion sensors allow you to be miles away and still keep an eye on your property from your phone.

For the home, smart doorbells allow you look at who is outside your property and speak to them even if you aren’t physically there, useful when you need a parcel to be left somewhere. You can also be notified if someone has approached your door and if they are attempting to break in. Some door bells can sound an alarm or you can speak to the criminal to tell them they are under surveillance. Last year Burg-Wachter launched a CCTV range and a new smart alarm system called BurgProtect. Matt told us that while it might be scare-mongering, some police forces have informed the public and business owners that unless they collect their own video evidence, the police won’t investigate the crime due to a lack of resources. Matt added: “That said, when you think about your friends and family, how many have smart locks yet? There is definitely something to be said still for physical locks. We are launching a BSI 3-star euro cylinder which offers maximum security against lock-snapping attacks. Scarily a common weakness in euro cylinders means a criminal can gain access

through the door in under a minute, or in seconds in some cases.” Tom Draper, director of Draper Tools, added: “Adequate lighting is another essential for safe and secure premises. A well-lit area is far less tempting for thieves and if you’ve gone to the trouble of installing CCTV cameras and warning signage, you need it to be seen at all times.” Draper Tools offers security lighting options featuring cutting-edge COB (chip on board) LED technology, which delivers superbright light and maximum efficiency. When it comes to advising your customers, Tom added: “Customers need to feel confident the products you stock will protect them, their property and their possessions. It’s one area



Above and far left: Burg-Wachter integrates smart phones in its home security systems like Burg Protect. Below: A strong padlock is a strong deterrent. Opposite: The safes, clockwise from the far left, are from Karat, Burg-Wachter and Sterling

67617-031_AM_Dining_BIRA_87_5x265 • FOGRA 39 • CMYK • tp: 19.10.2018

where cost may not be the driving factor in the decision to purchase. When the security of a home, workplace or possession is at stake, consumers will prioritise reassurance and reliability over cost savings. Stocking security products from a trusted, well-established brand will help provide these assurances to your customers.” “Locking up valuables and important possessions remains one of the best ways to keep them safe, whether that’s at home or the workplace. For complete peace of mind, a safe is the ideal place to keep valuable items and important documents. So, making safes part of your security range could prove to be a worthwhile investment. Be sure to choose one constructed from solid steel for maximum durability.”

DU: 04.12.2018


the show

sensational exceptional original 8. – 12. 2. 2019 The outstanding diversity of the international consumer goods market. Eye-catching innovations and designs for the table, kitchen and household in sight at the Dining area. The trade fair that leads your industry into the future. Information and tickets: Tel. +44 (0) 14 83 48 39 83

Partner Country India





BURGcam WiFi Video Surveillance BURGcam Bullet, Dome, PTZ and Indoor cameras offer up to 2K resolution with easy installation & monitoring via free app or browser.

BURGprotect Smart Alarm

BURGprotect offers an easy to install wireless alarm solution with convenient remote management & notifications via free smartphone app.

Certified Safes

Extensive range of AiS approved certified safes offering up to £100,000 of insurance approved cash cover and one hour of fire protection.



Keeping your business safe the smart way IT’S WELL KNOWN that burglary rates rise at this time of year. Burglars usually try to avoid confrontation, so while residential properties tend to be targeted during the day when owners are out at work, it’s the night when retail premises are most at risk. Good retail security is all about building in layers. The perimeter is the first line of defence, so any gates need to be chained shut and doors secured with the best quality locks you can afford. Any outbuildings should be secured with a strong padlock, hasp and staple, while it’s also worth thinking about a padlock with chain/ cable and ground anchor for larger items kept outdoors. Any retailer knows CCTV is a good visual deterrent, and modern systems such as BurgCam Wifi offer remote monitoring and event alerts on a mobile phone or PC. Similarly, Smart wireless alarm systems such as BurgProtect will alert you in the event of a burglary, fire or flood via a dedicated app on your phone. Another Smart system worth considering is an access control solution such as secuEntry, which offers keypad/phone/keyfob/fingerprint entry and allows access to be logged and/or time-restricted.

seeking to protect against, where it’s going to be kept and how frequently you need to access it. Burg-Wachter is Europe’s largest manufacturer of safes and has been producing highquality security solutions for over 100 years. Cheaper safes tend to be little more than glorified cash boxes, while “proper” safes come in a wide choice of sizes and locking mechanisms, plus have a selected range of ratings which can be broadly split into monetary insurance values and fire resistance. It doesn’t always follow that a safe with a high insurance cash rating will also have a high fire resistance rating, as these ratings are based on different criteria. It’s important, therefore, to check your insurance policy for the required ratings and look out for the “AiS Approved” logo. Crucially, the safe must be properly installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions for insurers to recognise the ratings in the event of a claim. Finally, the increase in popularity and affordability of simple to install and use “Smart” security solutions means that selling video surveillance and wireless alarm systems is a growing market opportunity for many retailers.

Better safe than sorry Safes should be at the heart of any retailer’s security provision, protecting cash, valuables, important documents, high-value goods and even pharmaceuticals. At the outset it’s important to establish what you are going to put in the safe, what you are

Nationwide technical and sales support and customised training is available from Burg-Wächter UK’s dedicated support team. Contact them on 01274 395333 and via uksales@ See the entire world of Burg-Wachter on




Reviewing GDPR The most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years, the General Data Protection Regulation came into force on 25 May last year. Here Andrew Hartshorn of law firm Shakespeare Martineau reviews the first six months of GDPR activity.

WE HAVE YET to see the full impact of GDPR as recent breaches have not yet translated into fines, but the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which upholds information rights in the public interest, has become tougher. The much-publicised Cambridge Analytica case cost Facebook the first maximum fine of £500,000 under the Data Protection Act (DPA). More pertinently for many businesses, the ICO fined Heathrow Airport £120,000 (also under the DPA) for losing a USB memory stick which included the names, addresses and passport details of 10 individuals and details of no more than 50 Heathrow security personnel. The fine was of this magnitude because the ICO’s office found, on investigation, only 2% of the airport’s personnel had been trained on data protection and there was widespread disregard of the company’s policies. What to do: Ensure that you have appropriate policies for protection of personal data, that staff are trained on them, and that they are followed and enforced. Employers, beware your staff The Court of Appeal has found supermarket Morrisons vicariously liable for the actions of one of its employees who deliberately stole and misused Morrisons’ personal data. The facts were these: An employee of Morrisons who worked in the IT team, Andrew Skelton, was asked by Morrison’s to pass an encrypted USB stick containing all Morrison’s payroll data to its auditors. Unbeknown to JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

Morrisons, Skelton held a grudge against the business for an oral warning he had been given some months before. Before passing the USB stick to the accountants, he made a copy of the data to a stick of his own and later published it on a file-sharing website with the full intention of damaging Morrisons. A class action claim was brought against Morrisons by a number of its staff for breach of the DPA. The judge held Morrisons themselves had not breached the DPA but, as Skelton’s role included dealing with this personal data, Morrison’s were vicariously liable for his actions. The Court of Appeal agreed that Morrisons were vicariously liable for the actions of Andrew Skelton. Morrisons has said it will appeal to the Supreme Court. What to do: Be careful who you trust with personal data.

What to do: make a diary note of when your current registration expires. If you haven’t registered, check if you need to pay the fees via the self-assessment tool on E-Privacy The long overdue E-Privacy Regulation is still winding its way through the European Parliament and Council. The latest draft (issued 19 October) dropped the provisions requiring browser manufacturers to including cookie controls. It does though still include corporate personal emails in the rules for email marketing (which currently only apply to personal email addresses). What to do: Watch this space but be prepared to ask for consent to market to corporate email addresses ahead of the E-Privacy Regulations coming into force.

Heathrow Airport was fined £120k as only 2% of its staff was trained in data protection

Data protection fees While the obligation to notify or register with the Information Commissioner’s Office under the Data Protection Act has fallen away, businesses still have to pay fees if they are processing personal data. The new fees are payable once the previous notification period has expired. The ICO is, understandably, very keen to pursue businesses that are not paying.

Subject access requests The number of subject access requests has increased (although this was a trend we noticed prior to GDPR coming into force as people became more aware of their existing rights). What to do: Ensure the business is set up to deal with subject access requests, and that you can respond within the allowed month. Finally, if your business isn’t GDPR-compliant, it is better late than never.


Product news January/ February

Outstanding pen cases by Enesco Made from a pliable silicon fabric, these furry-friendthemed pen cases are in the Punilabo collection from Lihit Lab by contemporary gift supplier Enesco. Featuring different animals, such as pigs, penguins and cats, the cases have lids that fasten to the body with a zipper. The lids can be used to store an eraser or small

pencil sharpener. The cases have extendable bases forming the tail or legs of the creature. These can be retracted to allow the case to stand like a pencil pot. Available in two sizes, holding 15 and 22 pens respectively, they retail for about £16 and £19. 01228 404022 /

Big K ignites BBQs and fires Drawing on more than 40 years’ experience, for its new Instant Light Charcoal, Big K has developed a close-control mechanism for dipping the charcoal in a lighting agent, which results in a very reliable product that lights every time. Also new is the Big K Disposable Instant BBQ, which is bigger than most on the market, offering a more reliable and longer-lasting option. For 2019 Big K has introduced two new products: Premium Grade Charcoal 5kg, and Premium Cocoshell Barbeque Briquettes 4kg. From its base in Stoke Ferry, Norfolk, Big K can deliver anywhere in the country to a 5-day lead time. 01366 501 485

DIY installation for BurgCam professional CCTV Designed specifically for the DIY install market, the BurgCam Wi-Fi range of video surveillance systems offers a choice of zoom, dome, bullet and indoor cameras, all able to record directly onto an SD card and use as standalone units. Super HD 2K resolution, face detection/video analytics and the option to pair up to six cameras with a network recorder makes the BurgCam Wi-Fi range perfect for most home, small business and retail installations. Cameras are accessible remotely via the BurgCam app, providing real-time monitoring on smartphones, tablets and PCs. The app allows two-way audio communication with indoor camera and pan, tilt & zoom functionality.

The one-stop floor care centre by Bona Provide your customers with a quick and easy cleaning system for hard floors, with products that give you an ongoing revenue stream through the repurchase of cleaner cartridges. The neat Bona merchandiser transforms dead space into extra revenue. The special stand deal for bira members delivers 48% profit on return, while repeat orders are available at only £250 (ex-VAT c a r r iage paid). The 38cm x 47cm stand carries a range of spray mop s , r epla c e ment cartridges, floor cleaners and pads, polishes and refreshers for all hard floors. A FOC video screen and floor sticker for use at POS is included in the deal. 07903 230 169 liam.walsh

01274 395 333 /



Would bira members like your products?


Look great in no time with Tefal Perfect for quick touchups, this hand-held Tefal steamer gadget is small, making it portable and easy to store, but it still produces 22g/min of continuous steam with 1500W of power. Once a light indicates the 45-second heat-up time is complete, you can steam away. Its handy fabric brush opens up the weave of the fabric for better steam penetration and the steam trigger (which locks in place) boosts steam output on stubborn creases. The handy gadget is equipped with a steam cover, which filters water impurities and protects fabrics from water drips. 0844 800 8055 /

Tefal can precision steam your laundry

Snickers’ perfect winter combination Offering superb value for money and a great fit, the comfort fabrics used for Snickers’ newest street-smart Work Trousers deliver enhanced freedom of movement, improved comfort and close-quarter mobility. They’re perfectly complemented by the hi-tech range of AllroundWork and FlexiWork jackets, which include 37.5® fabric technology garments that are 100% waterproof. 01484 854788 /

Clean up with Bona's Spray Mop The Bona Spray Mop is designed to provide professional quality, streak-free cleaning for wood and other hard floors using a simple spray-on, wipe-off method and safe lowemission formulations. Developed by Swedish wood floor specialist Bona, the trigger spray releases a fine mist of cleaner which dissolves dirt on the surface, so it can be wiped away using the microfibre pad. The cleaning solution dries almost immediately and leaves no streaks or residue, even on shiny surfaces like black ceramic tiles. The boxed Spray Mop kit (spray mop, full cartridge of cleaner and a washable microfibre cleaning pad) has a RRP of £38.99. The cartridge can either be replaced (£8.49) or refilled, providing an ongoing revenue stream. Replacement pads are available at £8.99. 07903 230 169 /


Super charged adhesive from Sika Sika MaxTack Super Charged, the new super adhesive from Everbuild – A Sika Company, boasts a fast fixing time of just 20 minutes, allowing work to continue without a prolonged wait. Able to bond to almost any surface, Sika MaxTack Super Charged can be used indoors and outdoors, is completely weatherproof and waterproof, and will even stick in the wet or underwater. Available in white in a 300ml cartridge, this next level in adhesive technology is just one of the fantastic products in the Sika Pro Select range. 0113 240 2424

Impeccably smooth and fresh garments are the result of using Tefal’s Master Precision 360° Upright Garment Steamer, which does away with the need for an ironing board and trips to the dry cleaner. The robust 360° rotating hanger, complete with trouser clips, makes it easy to steam and sanitise your clothes on both sides. A pre c i sion steam shot at the tip gets rid of stubborn creases. To freshen up an outfit fast, this versatile steamer heats up in 45 seconds and is safe to use on the most delicate fabrics. For more intense sessions, the 2.5L water tank (removable for easy refilling) allows up to 80 minutes of steaming. Lightweight and ultra-portable, thanks to two large wheels, the steamer is ea sily stored as its telescopic pole is collapsible. 0844 800 8055



A quiet life Following the success of bira direct’s 2018 Footfall Drivers campaign, the team behind the offers tell us about the trends for 2019. AS WE LEAVE the noise of Christmas and the festive season behind, a good many of us will be looking for some well-earned peace and quiet in January. And this is exactly what our first trend of 2019 is focused on – bringing calm to homes and shops up and down the country. So we’ve teamed up with Quiet Mark to raise awareness and lower all the noise, because, according to a recent survey, six out of 10 consumers are looking for quieter appliances – and that feels very much like a trend. Quiet Mark is an international approval award programme closely associated with the UK Noise Abatement Society. It actively encourages companies throughout the world to prioritise noise reduction within the design

of everyday machines and appliances and find solutions to noise problems. Up until now, they’ve had an exclusive partnership with John Lewis but the good news is that they are now able to bring their approach to independent retailers. Over the last few years, the quiet revolution has been gathering real momentum, and it counts a wealth of leading global brands amongst its partners. From Dyson to Samsung, from Siemens to Bosch, there are a good number of manufacturers focused on keeping it quiet. Quiet Mark has so far awarded over 500 different products quiet status, including washing machines, vacuum cleaners, handdryers and even musical instruments.

Footfall Drivers 2019

We think it’s got real appeal for consumers and it’s something we would encourage you to make a big (but quiet) deal about in 2019. We’re working on adding lots of products with the Quiet Mark to our roster of offers, so keep checking back to see what’s new. In the meantime, you can find out a little more about the quiet revolution products in our Footfall Drivers insert from bira direct included in your magazine.

To find out more and unlock exclusive content go to: footfall-drivers

Exclusive offers for bira members. Working to drive footfall to your store or website.

footfall jan.indd 1


29/11/2018 16:57:06



The membership magazine of the British Independent Retailers Association Published 6 times a year by bira publishing Editor Eric Musgrave 07702 628848 Design Alan Bingle 07949 024737 PA, senior communications & PR officer Kate Godber 0121 446 3730 Multimedia sales executive Simone Adams 0121 446 6688 Ext 259 All advertising and editorial enquiries Printed by Stephens & George, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales

bira, 225 Bristol Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B5 7UB Tel 0121 446 6688 Fax 0121 446 5215 bira national president 2018-19 Surinder Josan, All Seasons DIY, Smethwick CEO Andrew Goodacre Finance director Beverley Long Commercial director Jeff Moody

bira membership magazine incorporates bira alert, Hardware Today, Cookshop, Housewares & Tabletop and Pet Product Focus. If you would like to reproduce anything from bira member magazine, please contact the editorial team for permission. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the material we publish, bira publishing cannot accept legal liability for any errors or omissions, nor can they accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers or contributors. Unless specifically stated, goods or services mentioned are not formally endorsed by bira. Views of the contributors are not necessarily those of bira. All rights reserved. © 2019


Group restructure is now complete EARLY IN 2018 we wrote to all members about a proposal to restructure bira and make it a company limited by guarantee. This proposal was approved at the AGM in May 2018 and now we can confirm that the process was completed on 1 January. This is a technical process that required the creation of a company limited by guarantee and a new company, both to include the name bira to make it clear that there is continuity of bira’s existence through a different structure. To achieve this restructure the company limited by guarantee, BIRA Holdings Ltd, (“CLG”) has been appointed as a member of the association. This CLG has taken the place of bira for all association matters going forward. As a result, each bira member has been made a member of the new CLG

in exchange for giving up your membership of bira. It is very important to remember that none of your previous rights and obligations as a member of bira will change, other than you will have the protection of limitation of liability. Finally, bira will transfer its business and assets to the company limited by shares, BIRA Trading Limited, which shall be owned by the CLG (BIRA Holdings Ltd). This means that the structure of the group’s subsidiaries will remain as they do now, sitting directly under the control of the new operating company. Once the above structure is put in place the association will be dissolved as all members’ business and activities will have been transferred to BIRA Holdings Ltd and BIRA Trading Limited.

Welcome the newest members to our bira community A M Phillip Trucktech, Forfar, Angus; A Touch of Glass, Bridlington and Scarborough, Yorkshire; Arora Design, Fladbury, Worcestershire; Ashcott Village Shop, Ashcott, Somerset; Banks Stores, Benllech, Gwynedd; Barrhead Timber, Glasgow; Bathing Beauty, Denbigh, Clwyd; Belle La Vie, Binfield, Berwickshire; Belle Lingerie, Cleckheaton, Yorkshire; Betty & Claude, Chobham, Surrey; Birlinn, Edinburgh; Blend, Nottingham; Bluebird Fine Art, Derby; Bolton Properties, Bolton; Boom Machinery Inspections, Kettering, Northamptonshire; Burnley Catering Supplies, Nelson, Lancashire; C W Kirk Lawnmowers, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk; Clothing 4, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire; Cooks Boutique, Ilford, Essex; Cornerstone Jewellers, Stone, Staffordshire; Dae It Yersel, Dunoon, Argyll; Delton Foods, Derby; DeWaldens Garden Centre, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire; Sprockets Cycles, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire; Foundations, Nantwich, Cheshire; G T Inns Cleveland, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire; G T Inns Tiger, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire; Guru Enterprise, Birmingham, West Midlands; Hampstead Hardware, Hampstead, north London; Harbour Fish Bar, Teignmouth, Devon; Healthy Pulses, Plympton, Devon; Hereford Mower Services, Hereford; Infinity (Scotland), Wishaw, Lanarkshire; Just A Day Bridal Wear, Mannington, Essex; Kates Boutique, Glasgow; Lawson Whetstone, Colney Heath, Hertfordshire; Lifestyle, Chichester, Sussex; LoveU Tanning & Beauty, Stanmore, Middlesex; Luxurious Nails and Beauty, Ipswich, Suffolk; Luxury Vintage, Glasgow; Maidstone

Health Foods, Maidstone, Kent; MBS Building & Timber Supplies, Isle Of Arran, Argyll; Mill ‘N’ Mix, Dingwall, Ross-shire; Oakchurch Farm Shop, Staunton-on-Wye, Herefordshire; Oakley Garden and Estate Machinery, Frome, Somerset; Peak Health Food, Rugeley, Staffordshire; PM Car Sales, Macclesfield, Cheshire; Pretty Lilac, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire; Primus, Cradley Heath, West Midlands; Prust & Son, Llanfyllin, Powys; Purely Natural, Leeds, Yorkshire; Rapid Tractors UK, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire; Reigate Lighting Company, Reigate, Surrey; Roy Wilson Car Sales, Belfast, County Antrim; RSD Tool Hire, Coventry, Warwickshire; SeeSaw Lingerie, Altrincham, Cheshire; Shamrock Linens, Devizes, Wiltshire; Shopdeadgorgeous, Teignmouth, Devon; Stewarts of Trent Bridge, Nottingham; Stocks at the Vine, Stockbridge, Hampshire; Stocks Marlow, Marlow, Buckinghamshire; Stocks of Henley, Henleyon-Thames, Oxfordshire; Storm Hair Design, Street, Somerset; Subway, with franchises in Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Cannock, Solihull, Stafford, Stourbridge; Surf Rider Conwy, Conwy, Clwyd; Thai Lemongrass & Coconut, Stockport, Cheshire; The Kitchen Shop, Torquay, Devon; The Natural Choice, Colwyn Bay, Conwy; Top To Toe Hair and Beauty Studio, Ipswich, Suffolk; Totally Wicked Driffield, Scarborough, Yorkshire; Totally Wicked Malton, Malton, Yorkshire; Town Hardware, Exeter, Devon; Urban Avenue, Tayport, Fife; Woodcraft Group, Sandy, Cambridgeshire; Woodgrow Horticulture, Derby; Yeadons of Elgin, Elgin, Inverness-shire.


THE LAST WORD Guy Lachlan at the Kop Hill Climb in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire in his 1914 Fafnir, a German car powered by a First World War biplane 10-litre engine.

transactional website. In 2015 we opened Classic Oils at Bicester Heritage and then added our own-label products. In 2017 we sold Jones & Cocks to Flogas to concentrate on lubricants.

Photographs: Marcus Charter


Guy Lachlan


A hobby became a career for Guy Lachlan after he bought a couple of businesses despite having no retail experience. Having successfully spun one off, he is now working on what he sees as a huge opportunity in the vintage and classic car community for Classic Oils and its sub-brands.


What does Classic Oils do? We are a retailer – and now wholesaler - of lubricants, coolants and fuel additives for vintage, veteran and classic vehicles. We introduced our own brand about two years ago, and we act as a distributor across the UK and Ireland for Penrite oils from Australia. We own a related business called Tetraboost, which produces fuel additives, and another called Ethanil, which sells kits of my own invention to remove ethanol from modern petrol. We are based at Bicester Heritage, a former 1920s RAF base in Oxfordshire that was restored by a consortium of car aficionados as a centre of excellence for the specialist motoring and racing sectors. There are about 35 companies here.


It sounds like a very small niche… It is. But niches provide one way for traditional retail to thrive! Overall, the classic car market is booming, and worth about £5.5bn annually in the UK. Veteran cars are from before 1905. Vintage cars date from before 1931 and Classic cars are anything collectable after that. We also cover motorcycles, steam vehicles and earlier diesel engines. People who own old vehicles spend a lot of money on them, and specialist oils are part of that growing industry.



How are your oils different? Mainly in their viscosity. Modern car oils are very thin, so are not suitable for old engines. The chemistry of older oils is also different to allow for poorer filtration and earlier engine designs that incorporated poorly-lubricated rubbing surfaces.


What was your training for this? My father had old cars and I was into them from an early age. In my early 20s I built my own car and started restoring cars. My first career was as an engineer in the world of private aviation. I ended up as CEO of the UK trade body for commercial private aviation companies. One day in 2009 I popped into Jones & Cocks, a hardware store on an industrial site in Aylesbury to buy some nuts and bolts. Chatting to the owner, I learned he wanted to sell, so my wife Claire and I bought it. It had been around for about 110 years – sensibly, it had relocated from the high street in the 1990s - and had a good business in supplying gas for BBQs, central heating, welding and so on. Given my motoring background, I introduced an LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) filling station, which became important to the business. In 2010 I bought Classic Oils. It had been set up in 2002 but the owner was looking to emigrate.


How did you take to retailing? For a while, I tried to run the business while continuing at the trade association, but as bira members know, retailing is a full-time job. From 2010 we added Classic Oils to Jones & Cocks’ offer, which helped to offset the extreme seasonality of heating gas. In 2011 I added a

What’s the future plan? Our sales are split pretty equally between our shop, our website and our wholesale activity. I run the business with Claire, a manager and one other colleague who looks after the warehouse. Early in 2018 we linked up with Fuzz Townshend, who is well known in our circles as the mechanic from National Geographic’s Car SOS TV show and we rebranded to incorporate his name and image in our logo. Going forward, we see brand ownership and wholesale as being as important to us as pure retail. Potentially, there are thousands of customers for us, any individual and garage that works on old cars. We’re starting a franchise model next year too.


You’re very involved in bira, sitting on its legal & parliamentary affairs committee… Jones & Cocks was a bira member when I bought it and I could see the advantages of staying in. Having run a trade organisation before, I know how important they are. Like motoring, getting involved is in my blood! Fuzz Townshend’s Classic Oils, Bicester Heritage, Bicester, Oxon OX27 8AL / / /

Personally speaking Hobbies: Motor racing, bread making. Cars you own: 1914 Fafnir racer, 1930 Singer, 1956 Berkeley, 1983 Austin Maestro. Fave music: Anything! Fave film: Apollo 13. Fave food: Sunday roast with the family. Fave drink: Coffee. I drink far too much of it. Fave gadget: My infra-red thermometer. thousand uses in the house and in the workshop. Best holiday: Morocco in 2015. Business or life hero: I’m a Bill Grimsey fan, but anyone in retail is a hero in my eyes! Best advice received: From a boss when I worked in America, “Be right, but don’t be DEAD right.” Life motto: Always improve.


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BMM January 2019  
BMM January 2019