Star Spangled Retailers Celebrate the 4th of July as Independents Day
Forget the Star Spangled Banner, this 4th of July sees Star Spangled Retailers throughout the country celebrate the fourth “Independents Day” for independent retail businesses. The initiative which has been championed by Theo Paphitis and has received support by David Cameron, Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna as well as local business leaders including Friska Founders Griff Holland (Regional Representative for Independence Day) and Ed Brown, celebrates the importance of independent retailer sector within our communities and the economy at large.
The campaign has quickly become the voice of independent retailers in reaching their local communities as well as giving them a chance to be heard on a national level with fun activities, events and a host of special offers to encourage people to support them.
The Role of Independent Businesses in the UK Economy
Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) play a crucial part of the UK economy and account for 99% of private sector companies and 60% of private sector jobs according to a recent study by the investment bank Goldman Sachs. The upturn in the economy has also been significantly fueled by the growth and creation of new businesses which productivity growth.
The trickle down benefits of the Independent sector has also been shown to be significantly more than online or out of town spending. Research has shown that £1 spent locally is likely to trickle down around 50p - 70p into the surrounding region compared to about 5p when spent out of town or online.
Friska Co-Founder Griff Holland says “being an independent business has allowed us to connect in a more meaningful way with our community be they customers, local suppliers or new team members. The passion we bring to our food and service is something that the big boys can’t easily compete on. Ed Brown goes on to say “Being independently owned (we started it with our life savings) means we are able to make decisions with a longer time horizon as opposed to only dealing with short term quarterly results. In our opinion this makes for a happier company and by proxy, happier customers.”
The South West and Bristol in particular has a thriving Independent Retail economy with Park Street recently being identified in Colliers International's Mid Summer (2014) Retail Report titled “Coming up for Air” as one of the most vibrant retail centers in the UK, St Nicholas Market cited as one of the top ten markets in the country, and Gloucester Road as Britain's longest and best independent high street. All these areas have seen quality led independents compete and often come out on top against larger brands and multinationals.
Eva Stuetzenberger, Retail Sector Development Manager at Destination Bristol and founder of the Park Street, Old City and Stokes Croft Traders Associations says "Bristol has an amazing depth and variety of independent businesses that give each high street its unique flair and identity. Places where the wares are as varied as the customers, where the food served in a restaurant is full of surprises, locally sourced and not replicated in hundreds of identical outlets across the country, and where the shop keepers spend time to listen and talk to their customers. And it’s not just the shopping experience that benefits – it’s also the local economy, with each pound spent in an Independent supporting local jobs and trade.”
Room for further Improvement
Despite the strong performance within the sector, a recent American Express study identified a possible sales boost of up to £900m (up to an average of £30,000 per merchant) if independents look at collaborating in activities such as joint marketing campaigns, loyalty schemes, local events and joint promotions. Furthermore Independent businesses are still lagging behind chains in terms of keeping up with technologies like cashless payment which as increasingly seen as a decisive factor in wether or not to choose to visit a store.
Founded in Bristol in 2009, Friska serves breakfast, lunch and great coffee around its idea of ‘Feel Good Food’; globally inspired food made using the best quality, fresh and responsibly sourced ingredients. With a target market of young professionals within central business districts, Friska is focused on being the best place to go for breakfast and lunch whether eating in or taking away.
Co-founders Griff Holland and Ed Brown (graduates in economics from The University of Bath) are focused on building an A-Team of people who strive to grow the company throughout the UK in an authentic, fresh and full-of-life way which truly redefines expectations within the grab-and-go breakfast and lunchtime market.