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Annual Conference 2017 Review

Catch up with everything that happened at this year’s NFRN Annual Conference, which took place on Monday June 12 and Tuesday June 13 at the Riviera International Centre in Torquay.
Over 250 delegates descended on Torquay in June for two days of debate, elections and presentations from industry experts.

During the elections for national office, Portsmouth newsagent Linda Sood was elected National President, with Mike Mitchelson voted in as National Vice President. Stuart Reddish was elected as Deputy Vice President, while Dee Goberdhan was elected as National Trustee.

There were discussions and presentations on the future of the news supply chain, how retailers can increase profits in their stores, the issue of ‘plastic pollution’, illicit sales, retail crime, plus lots more!

Don’t despair if you didn’t make it to Torquay this year. Along with following us on Twitter, you can catch up with the action by watching all the speeches and presentations from conference on our video site (see below). If that’s enough there will also be a full report in the July edition of The Fed!

Watch the highlights from conference

You can now watch all the main speeches and presentations from Annual Conference on our dedicated video site.

Just follow the instructions below:

  1. Click the ‘Watch Now’ button below (this will take you to the video site)
  2. Click the ‘Register’ button at the top
  3. Enter your name and email address
  4. Click ‘Register’
  5. Click ‘Continue’
  6. Scroll down to the end of the page and click ‘Browse Event’
  7. You can now view all the videos from conference

An automatic email will also be sent to the email address you provided (please check your Junk/Spam folder in case it goes there). This will contain a password you can use to enter the video site for future visits.

Top Tweets

Read Linda Sood’s inaugural speech as national president
Good afternoon conference, colleagues, family and friends.

It is a huge honour and privilege to take up the office of National President and the responsibilities that come with it and I promise that this is something that I will not do lightly.

I am also extremely proud to be only the second female to hold this position within the NFRN’s 98 year history.

This industry of ours is very male dominated and it is 17 years since Margaret Adams was our National President. Ladies, we need to increase that percentage!

Reaching this exalted position has only been possible through the help and support I have received from so many people.

I must thank my district and branch colleagues, my husband Kamal and my sons for their belief in me.

Having spent the past two years as deputy vice president and vice president I have seen at first hand the incredible work and dedication of my predecessors.

And I hope that I can emulate that.

It has been a pleasure and joy to work with outgoing National President Ray Monelle. Ray, you are a hard act to follow but I promise to do my best.

I have been involved in retailing since the age of 11 when I first came to this country from Kenya. My father bought a shop in Harlesden and I can remember bagging up bags of rice because we couldn’t get basmati rice to sell in the shop!

In more recent times and together with my husband Kamal we have run two shops in the Portsmouth area so I know only too well the stresses and strains of running a business.

But challenges aside, we are proud to be independent retailers.

And although as a sector there are many financial and practical demands that are put upon us, I have always found that being a member of the NFRN has helped me to address many of them.

Although, sometimes, it does seem that as quickly as they are resolved that other issues arise.

For those reasons over my presidential year and working together with the NEC, with national council and with NFRN staff I hope to find practical solutions to overcome these challenges.

To find initiatives and opportunities for members to act – to adapt, change and transform – the ongoing theme of the federation

For the NFRN to remain relevant to our 15,000 members it has had to act.

Over the past 12 months this has meant changing the way it operates so we continue to best represent our membership and be recognised as the voice of independent retailers, not just today but in the future.

This change has manifested itself through a restructure.

Not only have we seen a reduction in the number of districts we now have, some branches have disappeared completely.

But communication with members has not suffered as a result. Indeed, we have organised more trade shows and networking opportunities to alert those retailers attending to new sales opportunities and services available.

Much has already been achieved, but restructuring is a gradual process.

It’s a learning curve.

But it’s also the way forward.

And while some districts have been eager to embrace change, others have sat on their hands.

Of course, all districts are different and I appreciate that in some parts of the country the traditional branch structure operates effectively.

But to survive, organisations like the NFRN must have strength in numbers and that means attracting young blood.

And progressive young businessmen and women will argue that they do not have time to agree minutes or discuss matters arising. They want to hear where their next profits will come from.

So as an organisation we must move forward.

We need to find new ways of getting members engaged and open their eyes to ways that will make them more money.

The NFRN has an obligation to help independent retailers meet the demands of the future by helping them to improve their retailing skills, becoming better retailers and enhancing the shopping experience in their stores.

We must ensure that we help them to the best of our ability.

Following conversations with fellow members I have introduced loose tobacco in my store, with great success.

And from talking to my customers I now stock buckwheat wine, smoked sausage and more flavours of zero soft drinks than I actually knew existed! And it’s all helped my bottom line.

Evolution is essential to succeed in business and besides sussing out the competition, what better way of gaining inspiration and new sales opportunities than from our NFRN colleagues.

Now through our public affairs work and when parliament resumes we will be pushing to ensure that the pre election promises in its manifesto will be delivered.

I promise that our efforts to bring greater attention to the impact that retail crime has on independent retailers everywhere and the need for greater police and government action will continue to be a priority.

Sadly, I speak from experience as earlier this year an employee that I saw as loyal and completely trustworthy was jailed for what the local media described as an illegal supermarket sweep.

The woman, who had worked for us for 11 years, gave away groceries and cigarettes to her friends and took money from our ATM.  The scam only came to light when we checked our CCTV.

The support we had from the local police was second to none but I know that’s not the case for too many of our members.

And NFRN surveys have shown that all too often retailers will not report crimes because they do not believe they will get the response they require.

I therefore intend to continue the good work that Ray, and Ralph before him, have done to make sure that tackling retail crime is given the attention, energy and priority it deserves.

And I vow that through our operations team, benefits committee and NFRN Mutual, we will push for reform.

I want to see a fairer system for small brick and mortar retailers and the removal of free to use ATMs from the rating list completely.

In recent years, the NFRN’s relationship with elected parliamentary representatives and government departments has reached impressive heights.

But we cannot afford to be complacent and we all have a role to play in making sure our local MPs, MSPs, Assembly Members and TDs are fully aware of the issues facing independent retailers and the assistance that we require from them.

As a previous chairman of the news operations committee I am a great believer in the future of the printed word.

The news category is still vitally important but publishers, wholesalers and retailers must work together if news stands are to remain at the front of stores and if home news delivery is to continue.

During my presidential meetings with both wholesalers and publishers I will stress the need for pro rata terms when cover prices increase, for timely and accurate deliveries and for carriage charges to be incorporated into the price.

For the next couple of years, negotiations will continue regarding Brexit and I want to make sure that at every opportunity the NFRN are part of these.

To make the most of the opportunity that leaving the EU presents and to ensure a profitable and sustainable future for independent retailers.

A year is not a long time for changes to be made.

But during that period I have set myself four objectives:

  • to lead our Federation forward into the future;
  • to continue to provide you, the member, with a service and with benefits that are tailored to your needs;
  • to ensure that during NEC and national council meetings the day to day issues that affect your businesses are addressed;
  • and, finally, at every opportunity that arises to champion the cause of independent retailers.

Yes, I am nervous.  As I said before I have a hard act to follow but I am honoured, proud and, at the same time, humbled to have this chance.

The Federation has always been recognised as an organisation that listens to its membership so over the coming weeks and months I’ll be going out and about to meet as many members as I can.

I’ll be talking to independent retailers with shops of all sizes about the challenges we face and how we can work together.

But more importantly, I will be taking time to listen to what they have to say to me.

We operate in challenging times but if we are prepared to adapt, change and transform then I am confident that independent retailers and the NFRN have a strong future.

Thank you.

Read Ray Monelle's final speech as national president
Good morning delegates, guests, trade partners and visitors.

I cannot believe a year has gone by since I walked in at this very room a year ago. It goes so quick – yet when I look at the activities in the Activity Report, I also wonder how I managed to fit it all in.

After 34 years in the trade, I can honestly say I still find it constantly changing and a pleasure to be part of, and it’s great to meet the public every day, interact with them and to be a part of their community spirit.

This year going out to all the districts, I’ve really enjoyed meeting members who are very happy to be part of the district setup, but want to go no further. They run very successful businesses, some of the stories I hear it’s become clear to me that their pleased with the direction and the support they are getting from the Federation. They do feel change is long overdue, so I’m glad to see how all of you have grasped the change and are looking forward to the future.

Time is precious to most members, more precious than it’s even been. Those with young families, the new blood that we’re looking to come in and are trying to develop their businesses, they need different types of meetings, they want more events, with more emphasis on business development to generate new ideas and to give them new drive to go forward.

I have already seen the benefits of this in my own district, we’ve had two social events at a Cash and Carry and one at our news wholesalers. And at both events I saw members I haven’t seen for years – who happily interacted with us, talked to us, and hopefully got more interested in being part of the Federation. So, it’s a good step forward.

On talking to these members, many who I haven’t seen at district or anywhere, they value the membership, they were happy to know we were there in times of need, but we need to add to this.

We want them to look at us as a ‘one-stop’, if they want to develop their shops, if they want help, if they want direction – they phone (NFRN) Connect – and we can do that.

So we still got a lot to do. Communications is always being improved, but what I have seen with independents is the ability to adapt and meet consumer needs very quickly, and very often at minimal cost.

It is also apparent we still need to communicate all the hard work that goes on daily resolving trade issues and tackling members’ issues sometimes with little results, but it is not for the lack of trying.

What I have seen in independents is the ability to adept and meet consumers’ needs very quickly and very often at minimal costs, we can react quicker than even the multiples and supermarkets.

In convenience there are still opportunities, this year being the growth of food to go and chilled, this has become a good profit earner but needs good management.

Vaping is the other area that is going to see huge growth and we need to devise an offer to members to tap into this area, this has and still is demanding as the products need to settle and we need to understand the category better.

I am amazed at the way members are grasping social media and using this to promote their businesses at low lost but reaching new young customers, this is again an area a lot of us need to come to terms with for the future.

This has been a hard year for our trade with increased legislation on aspects of our trade, this together with the living wage and auto enrolment has put extra pressure on us in times of reduced margins, this has had an effect in that full time staff employed by independents has reduced by 39%.

This has brought home to me the importance of parliamentary involvement as more and more pressures are brought on to us by legislation, through our hard work I have seen a positive increase in the profile of the NFRN and more and more we are recognised as a valued voice.

There are still several issues we will only see improvements through government, such as business rates, banking and particularly crime, so we must maintain pressure on parliament and here I must stress members’ involvement with their MPs helps tremendously.

To finish up there are a couple of important messages to get out there, first being an independent can sometimes be lonely, tell members, pick up the phone and call our (NFRN) Connect line, someone to talk to helps share the burden and an RDM can call or in fact another member to talk to can help.

Secondly, due to the resilience and diversity of our members and the Federation, we will be here for a long time – the positivity and the ability to adapt is strong, the opportunities are there and we are quick to grasp them.

Let us look to the future as I believe the future is bright and the good work the NFRN and our staff are doing is helping us get there.

Meet the new DVP - Stuart Reddish Q&A
On the first day of Annual Conference, Stuart Reddish was elected as Deputy Vice President. Here’s your chance to find out more about the man himself.

How long have you been in the industry and what made you first enter the trade?

Almost all my life! I started out as a paperboy and then got heavily involved in a multiple store while I was still at school. My parents wanted me to get a profession so I trained as a joiner, but in 1982 I opened my first shop in Chesterfield.

Tell us about your business?

I have two stores. I opened my first shop in Chesterfield in 1982 which was a traditional CTN that offered HND. I transformed this to become a convenience store and for several years it has traded under the Londis fascia. More recently I bought a shop in Sheffield and it is one of the biggest delivery agents in the area, with 800 customers and growing. A year ago I heard the post office was going to be relocated so I took it on. This was completely new to me but we are just about to celebrate its first anniversary.

When did you join the Federation and why?

I joined in 1982 after a local rep introduced me to the NFRN and took me to a meeting. In those days there would be 50 people in the room. I was completely new to the trade and wanted to learn more from my peers. I was intrigued to find out more – and I did.

What official positions have you/do you hold?

Nationally, I have been the only member ever to work at head office for over a year. I helped to found the NFRN Awards and CTN World and was events chairman nationally covering several presidencies. I have been Yorkshire president, am currently a national councillor and sit on the executive committee. I helped organise the Yorkshire five-a-side football tournament and sit on the executive committee. What might surprise some people is that I have never been on the NEC. I have been branch president in the past but for many years have been secretary for the Chesterfield and Sheffield branches. I sit on working parties for members and provincial publishers.

How have you personally helped fellow NFRN members?

Whenever I get a phone call asking for help I will go out and visit the member and do whatever I can to assist. Through my involvement in CTN World I have given members the chance to learn more about new developments, and through the NFRN Awards helped to raise standards.

Why should you be elected deputy vice president?

Because I am the right candidate. I am a members’ person and put them first above everything else. Personally, I don’t think we get involved enough in the issues that really matter to independent retailers. I have lots of experience of HND, retail, and running a post office so I am an all rounder who has much to offer the Federation and our members. I am not afraid to speak my mind and I am not frightened of taking on anyone or an industry issue.

What should the NFRN do to be even more effective and attractive to independent retailers?

Our membership is our strength, but it is also our weakness. Communication is key. We have got to communicate more and our officials should be more involved in this. Our members are only interested in what we can do for them. They want RDMs in their store so we have to expand the team.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love to travel and to spend time in Miami particularly.

Member Benefits

Retail Standards

Retail Standards

Training modules, customer service, health & safety, food hygiene. Essential business checklists and guides and factsheets. Free 1 hours advice from Licensing Matters, saving £120.

Member Benefits

Retail Standards

Retail Standards

Training modules, customer service, health & safety, food hygiene. Essential business checklists and guides and factsheets. Free 1 hours advice from Licensing Matters, saving £120.