Bira knocks on the door of 10 Downing Street for indies

The findings of this year’s PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer spelt it out loud and clear – business rates are right at the top of the list of factors that are having a detrimental effect on an independent card retailer’s business.

(Left-right) bira’s Bob Jarrett, Fiona Cuthbertson (political advisor), Alan Hawkins and Vin Vara.
(Left-right) bira’s Bob Jarrett, Fiona Cuthbertson (political advisor), Alan Hawkins and Vin Vara.

Taking this issue to ‘the top’, the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) went to Downing Street to put forward a strong case highlighting that while there are a number of burdens on an independent’s business, business rates are a massive tax on the high street, and very much exacerbated by the recent overdue revaluation.

bira executives met with Jimmy McLoughlin, special advisor at Number 10, to discuss the nub of the matter.

The retail body made the point that although the government has raised the rates free amount to £12,000 with a taper run off to £15,000 this is nowhere high enough for the average high street retailer.

bira proposed that if there was an allowance, not a cliff edge of £12,000, this would mean that smaller businesses would not be under constant pressure, but instead able to contribute extra productivity and profit to UK plc. In addition, it would mean that the Government could scrap all current and often short term reliefs that cost the treasury at least £2.6bn a year.

Chris Beards of Mantons is a shining example of the bira member.
Chris Beards of Mantons is a shining example of the bira member.

Further to this meeting, bira is now looking to put together much more detailed costings and more information on this will be available in due course.

*Among the bira members is leading greeting card retailer Mantons Cards of Port Erin, Isle of Wight, owned by Chris and Debbie Beards. Chris has now won 16 national awards, including the British Independent Retailers Association’s ‘Independent Retailer of the Year’ award last year. Mantons has also won the bira Hero Award for fundraising and community work in 2016.

*Adding to its long list of claims to fame, Mantons Cards has now been selected as a finalist in The NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards as ‘High Street Entrepreneur’.




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