Trade association ‘deserves’ its independent status

The CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association (bira), Andrew Goodacre, admitted that when he took up his post in 2018, he couldn’t understand why BAGMA (British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association) had independent status within the bira group.

“Tractors and mowers didn’t seems to fit into the core of the rest of the bira membership,” he said, “but I soon came to appreciate it’s strength. There’s a real affinity amongst its members for BAGMA’s heritage and history. They wear and display the brand with pride - and it would have been totally wrong to have disturbed that close affinity.”

Andrew Goodacre was speaking in a wide-ranging interview with Chris Biddle in the latest episode of his Inside Agri-Turf podcast on the day that England went into Lockdown Mark2.

He praised the ingenuity of many independent retailers in finding new ways of connecting with customers. “They realised that if the customer couldn’t come to them, they had to find ways of going directly to the customer, and many of them have really stepped up to the mark in very challenging trading conditions”.

He said that there was still much to be done by the independent sector. “Our research tells us that 80% of independents have a website but only 25% have transactional software to complete an online sale.”

Mr Goodacre also queried the haphazard and woolly definition of ‘non-essential’ retailers that had to shut for another month, particularly in the run-up to Christmas. “I think they allowed garden centres to open too late in the Spring, but it is wrong they should have exemption this time of year, because hardly anyone goes to buy plants and the centres are almost totally given over to Christmas items in competition with many bira members who have had to shut.”

Listen to the podcast.

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