Watch all the action from Annual Conference 2019
The NFRN’s Centenary Annual Conference took place on 17-19 June at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Brighton.
To open the NFRN’s 100th Annual Conference, we were delighted to welcome the MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who paid a glowing tribute to the role independent retailers play in their communities.
During the elections for national office, Stuart Reddish (Chesterfield branch) was elected as National President for the forthcoming year, while Muntazir Dipoti (East Lancashire) and Jason Birks (Durham) were elected as vice and deputy vice presidents. Nilesh Patel from the Barking & Havering branch was elected national trustee on a 3 year term.
Meanwhile, three new faces will grace the National Executive Committee (NEC) with Andrew Taylor, Shahid Razzaq and Suleman Khonat joining Gwen Patterson, Bhavesh Patel and Peter Wagg who were all re-elected.
There were discussions and presentations on a wide range of topics, including how members can increase sales and profits in their stores through new business opportunities, the future of the news industry, the growing problem of retail crime, and deposit return schemes.
Running alongside conference this year was a special trade exhibition offering independent retailers a great opportunity to meet with leading trade partners and suppliers and take advantage of some fantastic deals and offers.
A full report of all the action from conference will be available in the August edition of The Fed. That’s not all – along with looking back on all the goings-on from Brighton on the NFRN Twitter or NFRN Facebook pages, you can also watch all the speeches and presentations from conference on our video site which will be available on this page next week.
Watch the action 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:
- Click the ‘Watch Now’ button below (this will take you to the video site)
- If you haven’t registered for the video site before then click the ‘Register’ button at the top (if you already have an account then sign in as normal)
- Enter your name and email address
- Click ‘Register’
- Click ‘Continue’
- Scroll down to the end of the page and click ‘Browse Event’
- 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.
Read Stuart Reddish’s inaugural speech
Distinguished Presidents, Conference
When I stood for the DVP position some three years ago, I stood for the grass root members.
I would like to thank my branch and district for their support, in particular the district. They have always been fully behind me and for that I am truly grateful.
I would like to thank Andrew Taylor, Stephen Hunter, Gillian Jones and James Wilkinson, to name a few, for their unstinting support over the years.
I also want to recognise my good friends Roy Turnbull, Peter Stead and Barry Taylor. They have always supported me and kept me true. They have always believed in me and I hope to make them proud. I’m pleased to see Barry and Roy at conference to see this moment.
I am standing in front of you today with the opportunity to lead our new teams into a brighter and more optimistic future for the Federation.
I assure you, I will, as always, put members first and will stay loyal to my principles of being open and transparent even though some may find it unpalatable.
I am known for straight talking, I will deal with the inevitable challenges head on and, whilst I will not always get it right, I will listen to National Council and change my mind when convinced.
I don’t mind being challenged as long as whoever is challenging can offer an alternative. It’s all too easy to criticise, but not so easy to come up with a solution.
We have a great future but need everyone to pull together, including staff and officials. Now is the perfect time to rebuild the Federation and make it fit for purpose.
We have been talking about our challenges for long enough. It’s now time for action. We have only one chance to get this right and, as we continue to celebrate our 100 years and look to the future, we owe it to everyone who has ever been involved in this great federation to succeed.
When I look to the side of me, I see past presidents who have given their best for the well-being of those they represent – collectively, they have over 2400 years of knowledge.
They come each year and listen to Presidents stand at this platform, like me, and deliver a speech. I want to make sure that next year, when I stand before them, I do so having achieved the Federation’s aspirations and goals.
I would like to welcome the new NEC and National Councillors for 2019/2020.
As I indicated at spring council, I will be calling upon members who have specific skills to use their expertise in order to push the federation forward, even if they don’t hold a position of national office.
As Earl Spencer said: “you don’t have to have a title to be recognised and carry out good work”.
As you now know we are in the final stages of the interview process for the two key positions of COO and Head of Business Development and I look forward to working closely and productively with them in my year as President.
To consolidate our vision of having everyone working more closely together, we have recently merged the Operations and News departments which has created what will be a very busy department.
I intend to hold one-to-one meetings with the NEC members and will announce the committees very soon thereafter.
Mike, the IPP, and myself are nearing our end as senior officials and we need to make sure that all the knowledge and expertise we have gained in our years of office is passed on to those who succeed us.
Of course, the federation will survive without us, but we are determined that it does more than survive.
Conference, many of you are district delegates, and as such, I want to remind you of your responsibility to hold your elected National Councillors to account. National Council also has a responsibility to hold the NEC and National President to account.
Our meetings need to be pro-active and productive, therefore I will be asking for suggestions and opinions at National Council and will expect elected officials to have taken the time to read the paperwork and be prepared for action.
All I ask is for National Councillors to be strong and embrace change. Be prepared to be bold and recognise that change is needed.
Compromise is not a dirty word
My year will focus on working closely with the National Trustees, Finance Committee, NEC and staff. I know I cannot do it alone, but I also know there have been years of talk – now it’s time for action.
It is essential that all staff know and understand what we do every day, the challenges we face and to recognise it’s not easy being a retailer. All staff will have a small window of opportunity do so as, during July and August, they will work alongside a retailer and see first-hand what we do.
I have spoken to your vice president and newly elected DVP and we are all on the same page – our aims and objectives are the same.
We have a business plan which will be discussed and actioned during our first NEC meeting. Once approved, it will be rolled out to National Council. We need to have a clear path and direction for all stakeholders.
The NEC will focus on six main areas:
1. member benefits /support
2. recruitment and retention
3. Retail Crime
4. engagement / publishers / wholesalers
5. assets of the federation
6. internal procedures
First and foremost, I’ve been privileged to head up and run the operations team and see first-hand how experienced and dedicated they are in providing our members with a lifeline and support through difficult times. I’ve also seen how they help develop stores and help members flourish in retail as well as keeping them legal. They are one of our biggest assets and this is what sets us apart from other Trade bodies, but we need to fully utilise their skills, provide them with essential tools and training to develop them further.
As a result of the restructure, we have appointed a senior RDM in the field to support our already dedicated field force, and will be bringing more benefits to members via the field force.
As you can see from the comments from members, the team really do make a difference.
NFRN Connect is another vital part of member contact and are the heart of the Federation. When telephoning our members, they have a great opportunity to promote the NFRN.
We have a highly skilled team who, over the years have gained the trust and respect of not only members but wholesale personal. I hope you met part of the team on the stands during this conference.
Every day they help members with issues which would otherwise go unresolved if it was not for the team.
They document these issues which this is vital when we are talking to wholesalers and publishers about our members concerns.
Since conference last year, we have saved members over £250,000. It is clear that not all members use this service and we need to move with the times and adopt new ways in which contact can be made which may include WhatsApp Groups, email, text and we are developing an app in order to keep our members informed – whatever our members need in this ever-changing world of retail.
Our membership services team are vital in making sure our democratic process is well oiled, but as branches and districts change, then so will the work of the dept. Business meetings are what the membership wants.
I’m pleased the motion to change branch meetings to business meetings passed and now we need to make them attractive to all independent retailers which should result in better attendance.
We currently have a five-star legal policy and we need to ensure that this is regularly evaluated and adapted to ensure it offers the service and support our members require. This is the single biggest external cost to the Federation and many of you will have had occasion to contact legal and benefit from this invaluable service.
We hope you all will by now have received your membership cards, every member will be given a card and we intend to use this as a platform for suppliers to offer great one-off, EXCLUSIVE deals to our members.
We have a diverse portfolio of retailers with different needs and we will look at offering a platform of silver, gold and platinum membership categories with additional benefits for extra commitment which suppliers can buy into.
I’ve long said that not every member wants a visit. Some simply want us as an insurance policy to dip in and out of when required.
Some members need one-to-one help which is something the Federation is extremely good at.
As members, we always want more, we want to see the benefits of being a member in real hard cash.
We all hear so often the quote “What does the federation do for me? Well, we really do a lot. The benefits alone cover the membership fee, but add in the money saved on the services available. It’s a fantastic offering BUT we need to shout about our success.
Credit union is a great benefit as they support members when their requests for help have been rejected by the mainstream banks.
The Credit Union team has invested a lot of time in putting a new system in place to help members both save and obtain loans allowing them to invest in their businesses and develop even bigger, more profitable stores. This will be rolled out in the coming months.
I know sometimes it looks like officials are on “jollies” when you see photos at dinners and events. I want you to know such events are vital for two reasons:
1. to promote the federation
2. to network and do business
We also hold regional events with some success but we need to plan ahead and make sure we have the correct venue, times and be able to promote in a timely manner to give the event a fair chance of success. Afterwards, it essential that we monitor and evaluate to make future events more relevant to the needs of retailers.
Our national awards attracted over 450 people and was praised by the industry as the best event ever staged. This event was funded by the hard work of the News team, Business Development, Mike and myself and helped to raise the profile of the NFRN.
Retail crime is talked about along the corridors of Westminster and we need to continue to lead the debate and shape the way forward.
No member, in fact no one, should feel scared to provide for their family. We have heard so many stories of robberies and shop theft which is at its highest level in decades. 83% of staff experience verbal abuse, over 10k incidents of violence estimated this year and these are generally triggered by shop staff challenging shop theft, enforcing under age sales or refusing to serve a customer.
Crime ranges from shop theft to armed robbery with often tragic consequences. Staff assaults are at their highest level in decades and the impact can be devastating and long-lasting.
When Ravi from Pinner was killed in a quiet well-respected area whilst opening the store, it brings home how it could so easily have been anyone of us. The government and police need to act now and fast.
Our political engagement dept will work with communications to formulate a plan which outlines how, during my year of office, the NFRN will feature in the media and on TV to show government we have had enough.
Obviously, Brexit will dominate the political agenda, but we, as retailers, are still dealing with everyday issues which seem to fall on deaf ears.
Track and trace law is still causing concerns. Retailers are still unregistered and the ones who have made applications do not know where they stand in the process.
As the sole owner of Newtrade Publishing, which was purchased in order to benefit our membership, we need to work closely with them to make sure we both have a bright future. For so many years, this was not the case but that is all about to change.
We will have a new Business Development Manager and under their leadership I look forward to them bringing even more benefits to our members.
We need a commercial offering
Moving on to recruitment and retention – this is a key focus for the NFRN. As membership falls we need to stem the flow and add growth. Bev has outlined her vision, which we hope you all embrace, and look forward to our members earning money for recruiting. I hope you had the chance to chat to her on the stand and in conference. If each member recruits just one additional member, Wow, what a difference it will make.
Everyone who is part of this federation should be able to sell the Benefits of membership.
Now I want to turn to wholesaler and publisher issues. Members are faced with exorbitant carriage charges and now it’s tipping the balance between being profitable or making a loss in news. Many retailers are now turning away from having news supplied direct from the wholesaler – Publishers and Wholesalers need to wake up and deal with this issue.
I intend to call a summit on this subject and invite leading publishers and wholesalers to have a frank and honest Debate.
Newspro is a way forward for many members and studies by the wholesaler show NFRN members out-perform non-members by 5%.
We have a huge amount of retailers taking part with now over 700 and growing, so if you haven’t already signed-up, I urge you to do so as the figures speak for themselves. We are currently generating over £14m of revenue through Newspro. We have the winning formula to maximise profit when it comes to news.
Wholesale service levels fluctuate from region to region, branch to branch, but yet we still don’t get auto restitution which in the 21 century is backwards and I am pleased that the motion regarding automatic restitution has passed. We need to challenge them on all fronts but also recognise we have to work along-side them to make sure our members are not treated unfairly and when they are, challenge them on it.
Smiths News is moving a small part of their call centre to India which should be monitored and evaluated. If successful, I’m sure will open up additional communication channels with our members.
The publishers continue to cause concern and although we have met on an unprecedented number of occasions, we still have issues about terms. Not all publishers have strong relationships with us, but when publishers do give us pro-rata terms, like the Guardian and Mail, we need to recognise this. However, I dread to think where the industry would be without the federation and the work the news team do to stop the coach and horses driving through our members shops.
Brian, Phil, Pete and Jerry lead the team and they continue to drive and deliver first class service in this challenging category.
When we look back at our 100 years history, some former Trustees made some very sound investments, none other than our head office in central London.
We now owe it to the membership to sweat the assets, so I can announce project awakening will commence in the quarter 3 and quarter 4. You will see from the pictures on the screen what this building may look like in the future, but I am committed to working with the trustees and NEC in delivering a modern, money-making building during 2019.
We already rent out part of Yeoman House which produces a high rental income due to its favourable location.
Finally, now we have Bill Perry as Federation General Council and will work on procedures to protect members and staff.
Next year, we will bring rule changes to make our organisation more secure and less vulnerable to individuals who may want to take advantage.
Conference, the train is about to leave the station and I ask that we all jump aboard and embrace the change which is about to happen.
The last year has been exciting, disappointing, interesting and funny. This year will, I’m sure, bring challenges, but with the hard work of staff, official, NEC and its sub-committees, we will succeed.
Let’s all work together, because, together we are stronger!
Thank you and I look forward to seeing many of you over this next year.
Read Mike Mitchelson's farewell speech
Good morning delegates and visitors.
I would now like to add my own welcome to everyone here in Brighton for the NFRN’s Annual Conference which of course is our Centenary Conference.
This year has really been a big year for us as we celebrate 100 years. And it certainly has been memorable, too.
Not many organisations stand the test of time and reach 100 years, but that is exactly what we have achieved.
In many ways the Federation is very different to the one founded back in 1919, but our ethos remains firmly the same: to protect, promote and develop independent retailers in the UK and in Ireland.
Our existence today, 100 years on, is a credit to the hard work and wisdom of members and individuals who have shaped the NFRN and guided it over the years.
So in this milestone year we must honour the pioneers who set us on this path…
… We must recognise and celebrate our many achievements,
… But we must also keep an eye to the future.
It is fair to say that we might not always have got things right…
… And that some of our good work may have fallen under the radar…
… But despite this we should all be proud that the NFRN continues to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of independent retailers.
Belonging to the Federation can and does make a difference.
The industry that we operate in constantly evolves, and that everyone within it has faced radical and significant changes.
To overcome these, the NFRN has had to change.
And we have done so by staying abreast of the hot topics and fine-tuning our offer so we remain strong, resilient and fit for purpose.
So taking the mantle of National President and all the responsibilities that come with it and leading the NFRN in its centenary year has been a huge honour.
It is also one that I have not taken lightly.
I would like to thank everyone who has worked with me and supported me during this very challenging but special year.
Firstly, the NEC and, in particular, Vice President Stuart Reddish, our immediate past president Linda Sood, and deputy vice president Muntazir Dipoti for their guidance and support.
My thanks must also go to our Trustees and NFC members.
Our national councillors who have not been afraid to challenge our proposals and actions and I thank them for contributing to some lively debates.
Back in our districts and branches there is an army of elected officials who do not always receive the recognition and appreciation that they deserve – so I am putting that right now!
I would also like to pay a huge thanks to Anne and my family at home, without their support and patience I would not have been able to this job.
We have been without a chief executive for the past 18 months but with the help of our management and staff who do a wonderful job we have been striving to move the NFRN forward.
We are fortunate to have such dedicated and professional teams working for us.
Everyone’s contribution has helped over this period of time which we have spent stabilising and bringing back together the organisation.
We are now in the process of putting in the building blocks as we move forward into the next century.
We are in the final stages of appointing a Chief Operating Officer, last week we held a range of interviews with applicants. Next week we will be conducting in depth interviews with the short listed candidates and we will then be expecting to make an appointment.
We are also in the midst of interviewing for a Head of Business Development, another important appointment we feel is vital to the Federation as we look for Business Opportunities to help our members develop their businesses and address the challenges they face in the modern trading environment.
We have also completed a review of the Operations and News Departments and I can announce that we have amalgamated the two departments.
Brian Murphy has now become Head Of Operations and News, with Phil Williams becoming a Senior RDM.
NFRN Connect will now become part of their Membership Services team based in Durham.
But back to today and I would now like to focus on some of the progress we have made over the past 12 months.
In my inaugural address last June I vowed to step up engagement in a number of areas.
First and foremost this was with our members and I promised to talk to as many of them as possible to improve my understanding of the challenges they face and what they would like from our Federation so that our benefits and services could be better tailored to their needs.
There was a clear indication that they want business information, business meetings and trade shows where they can network and take something back to their businesses.
Through our programme of joint open days, trade shows and social events, by taking national council meetings out to Leicester, Manchester and Durham and by stepping up our communications activity I believe we have made a good start.
But we can and need to do more …
… we will continue to explore new ways of bringing together members who do not currently attend branch or district meetings
… we need to extend our appeal to non members and give them the chance to hear about new business opportunities and help them understand that they would benefit from being a member of the NFRN.
… Share experiences and best practice…
… grasp the opportunity to exploit gaps in the marketplace.
We need to continue to take every opportunity to shout about the Federation’s successes so that members are aware of exactly what we do for them, what we have to offer and confirm that their membership provides them with the best representation and assistance in a difficult and ever changing trading environment.
Another of the aims I set myself was to improve our political engagement and great strides have been taken in this area through a wide range of political activity. There are a whole range of political decisions which affect our members businesses.
We have deliberately done a lot of work in raising the concerns about retail crime. Retail Crime and in particular abuse of members and their staff is a serious issue as members have been seriously injured and even suffered loss of life. As we all go about our day to day job of opening, closing or just generally working in our shops we have the right to feel safe in our environment, police and politicians should take the necessary steps to make sure we are.
Following discussions with the NFRN, crime minister Victoria Atkins has begun to realise the severity of our issues, she has accepted that Government need to do more and has called for evidence from the trade on measures that can be introduced to prevent both the physical and verbal abuse of shop owners and their staff.
By lobbying MPs and by working with them through the auspices of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Retail Crime, the issue of retail crime and attacks on retailers is now firmly on the agendas of ministers who can make a difference.
It is great that our voice is being heard and that parliamentarians now realise just how serious a concern this is to retailers up and down the country.
Going forward I would urge all delegates to respond to the crime minister’s consultation ahead of it closing at the end of the month.
It is then our intention to meet with Mrs Atkins once again so we can explore the concrete steps that ministers, MPs and NFRN members can take to better protect everyone who serves behind a shop counter.
And it is crucial that the NFRN continues to put pressure on all of our politicians to make sure measures are taken. I make no apologies for again asking you all to play your part by contacting your MPs to visit their surgeries or get them to come to your shop.
Ultimately, well ahead of any decision making, the NFRN must be in front of politicians to spell out the impact that their policies and decisions have on the businesses of Independent retailers.
This is exactly what we are doing in Scotland where the NFRN is a leading member of an industry advisory group which has been set up by the Scottish government to consider the details behind the implementation of a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans.
Such a scheme is due to be introduced ahead of the 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections.
The NFRN has always been supportive of deposit return schemes but it is crucial that we ensure that when implemented these neither impede upon nor penalise smaller retailers.
Meanwhile, in Wales, the NFRN is now seen as the go-to organisation by the Welsh government for information and opinions regarding business and retailing.
Not only have Welsh ministers attended recent district council meetings, the district is in discussions with Alcohol Concern Wales over minimum unit pricing and has established a close working relationship with Business Wales.
Other political wins for the NFRN over the past year include the announcement that the 5p plastic bag charge would, subject to consultation, be extended to all retailers.
And in last autumn’s budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond addressed our concerns about the future of high streets by announcing some much-needed reductions in business rates along with the creation of the High Street Fund which will provide £675 million to make town centres in England “fit for the future”.
So, again, political engagement is an area where the NFRN has made some real progress, but there are always new issues coming to the fore and, therefore, there is still more that our elected officials and political engagement staff can do to influence policy.
Over the past year service failings by publishers and news wholesalers have continued to remain a concern, with ever present challenges in terms of late or short deliveries.
It was disappointing that the Competition and Markets Authority decided – on prioritisation grounds – not to launch an investigation into the news supply chain despite all the evidence we shared regarding their monopolistic practices.
That said, we took some encouragement from the CMA confirming that it would be writing to all publishers to remind them of their responsibilities under competition law and that failure to do so would result in enforced action.
While an investigation into the unfair practices in the newstrade would have been very welcome, at least we have made the CMA aware of the injustices that exist.
And when systems fail, we will continue to provide them with firm evidence.
Throughout the past year we have increased our engagement with publishers and distributors, regular meetings have taken place where the NFRN has pressed home the financial challenges and pressures facing independent retailers on a daily basis.
What we have made abundantly clear is that the future survival of the news trade is dependent on all sectors working together.
This means that everyone’s needs – not just those of shareholders – must be taken into consideration when business decisions are made.
And more importantly, that all sectors should receive their fair share of the income from cover price rises.
Without this the future of the news industry teeters on a precipice.
It is pleasing that some publishers appreciate the crucial role that retailers play and have accompanied cover price increases with pro rata terms.
Sadly, there are still too many others who fail to pass on the share we deserve.
However, stronger relationships have been created with our newstrade partners.
And I know that regular meetings will continue over the coming months so our concerns over poor service can continue to be laid bare.
Over the past 12 months we have continued to demonstrate against unfair and illogical carriage charges, culminating in a fantastic response to our Enough’s Enough campaign.
The fact that more than 1,000 completed petition cards have been sent back to Yeoman House has illustrated clearly just how fired up members are about these ever increasing burdens which threaten the viability of many of our members’ shops.
With regard to service from distributors I still strongly believe that some form of automatic compensation should be available when retailers suffer serious service issues.
If parcel and rail companies can compensate their customers for lateness, why can’t our publisher and wholesaler colleagues do the same for late newspapers?
This is something that the NFRN will continue to pursue as I at last feel that we are on the point of a breakthrough in this area.
As part of our centenary celebrations, various events have been taking place up and down the country throughout the year.
As your National President I have been particularly proud to address guests at two important events to mark the NFRN’s centenary.
The first, on November 7, brought together NFRN members and 100 of our leading suppliers at
News UK’s central London headquarters.
Not only did this give us an opportunity to celebrate the NFRN’s major milestone, but we had the chance to say thank you to them for their unstinting support for the Federation and for the tremendous support they give to all of our members.
We explained how looking after independent retailers was still our number one priority…
… that the Federation was changing and that we wanted to work with them more closely and do business with them for our members.
On February 12 around 500 guests assembled for our Centenary Dinner and our 2019 Awards ceremony.
This very special event was all about celebrating success:
The NFRN’s success in grasping new opportunities to keep the independent news and convenience store sectors vibrant and forward thinking;
Our success in keeping the independent retail sector at the forefront of the minds of people who matter – whether in industry or the government.
And above all, our success in being an influential and well respected employers’ trade association.
Meanwhile, the presentation of our 2019 Awards allowed us to recognise all that is best within our industry, with awards to individuals and to businesses that in their many different ways have made outstanding contributions to the independent news and convenience market.
For me, it has been a privilege to preside over the NFRN at such a significant time in its history.
A time when we have reflected on how and why the NFRN started…
…and Just how far we have come…
… Our achievements over all those decades…
…Of the unrivalled help and support we have given to our colleagues working in the independent retail sector…
… How we have positively raised the profile of both the NFRN and our members and the key role they play as the beating hearts of their communities.
It is also a year when we must also consider the future and what our industry has to offer…
…And, as we move into the next century, the exciting challenges ahead…
… So we can equip NFRN members across the UK and the Republic of Ireland with the skills required to build better and even more successful businesses…
… Ensuring they can continue to serve thousands of communities each and every day …
…Delivering newspapers and magazines to approximately one million homes…
… And welcoming millions more people into their stores for the convenience, friendliness and top class customer service.
With the challenges facing independent retailers being greater than ever before , so is the need for a strong and dedicated NFRN.
So this Conference is a hugely important occasion.
Conferences shape the direction of the NFRN.
It gives us a time to reflect on the past year’s achievements before deciding on policy for the coming year.
Over the next three days you, as delegates, will decide the next all important steps that the NFRN will take.
You decide on our priorities.
What has been evident from the past year is that when we speak loudly and with one voice we get heard.
So we have raised our voice and we are being heard by the people who matter.
And for the next three days these are your debates and it will be your voices that we will hear.
It is your Federation, and your voices will shape our future.
So do take part, join in and take pride in your NFRN membership.
It has been a real honour to serve you.