Annual Conference 2017

The NFRN’s 98th Annual Conference is taking place on 12-13 June in Torquay.

NFRN Annual Conference 2017








This year’s event will take place on Monday June 12 and Tuesday June 13 at the Riviera International Centre in Torquay.

As well as the conference, which will see trade motions debated and elections for National President, Vice President, Deputy Vice President, Trustee and NEC members, there will be a gala dinner held on the evening of Monday June 12 which will be attended by around 400 guests.

Follow the action on Twitter

You can follow all the build-up to this year’s conference through our official NFRN Twitter account – @NFRN_Online. You can also join the conversation by using the hashtag #nfrn2017 in your tweets, videos and photos! New to Twitter?

Catch up online

Don’t despair if you can’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 on our website. If that’s not enough there will also be a full report in the July edition of The Fed!

Take a look back at last year’s conference

Visit our Annual Conference 2016 page for a full round-up from last year.


Who will get your vote? Meet the DVP candidates

Kate Brown profile picture

Kate Brown

Muntazir Dipoti profile picture

Muntazir Dipoti

Martin Mulligan profile picture

Martin Mulligan

John Parkinson profile picture

John Parkinson

Stuart Reddish profile picture

Stuart Reddish

Kamal Thacker profile picture

Kamal Thacker

At Annual Conference six candidates are standing for the position of Deputy Vice President. Here’s your chance to find out more about who they are.


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


Kate Brown: My aunt and uncle had a newsagents and I spent my weekends and school holidays working there. This was before there were laws about how old you had to be to work! My aunt would put my wage in an envelope and I was paid 50p an hour. We bought our shop in 1998. Many of my family have their own businesses so it was a natural progression to purchase our own.

Muntazir Dipoti: I have been involved in the independent retail sector for the past 15 years and my brother and I run a total of 11 shops.

Martin Mulligan: I have been in the industry for almost 40 years. It was always my ambition to run my own business. My dream came true back in the late 1970s when I was able to purchase a shop and forecourt which had ceased trading a number of years previously.

John Parkinson: In 1972 I was working at Barclays Bank in the local head office. Although I quite enjoyed my work I could foresee that it might well become boring. My parents had moved to Wales and were buying two businesses; a launderette and a newsagents. When they asked if I wanted to join them as a partner in the newsagents, I jumped at the chance. We took over the shop on June 12 1972. In 1990 I took sole control.

Stuart Reddish: 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.

Kamal Thacker: Since 1981 when I first joined my father in his business in Rainham, Kent. My wife Varsha and I moved back to London in 1987 and ran a convenience store in Acton. We sold that business and bought our present shop in Edgware, Middlesex in 2001.


Tell us about your business?


KB: Thirteen years after building our business up and surviving the recession we sold our shop and set up as roundsmen. This business has increased and we now deliver around Leeds, Wakefield and York. I enjoy the change of direction and also welcomed a new challenge to starting a business from scratch.

MD: When I took over my store it stocked news and magazines, six flavours of crisps and had one double fridge. In my first year, after listening carefully to customers, I brought in new products to give more choice and had a full refit using the services of the NFRN Model Shop Programme. I have a very large door-to-door service and am the only retailer who offers to deliver to the whole of Todmorden. I also oversee the other 10 stores in our group.

MM: Upon purchasing our new premises along with my wife Mary, we were able to put our combined experience and knowledge to work and opened a shop and newsagents which we later expanded to include a forecourt and post office. Thankfully the business has gone from strength to strength over the years.

JP: When we took over the shop it was a typical CTN of its time with opening hours of 7am to 5.30 pm, half day closing on Wednesdays and Sundays and it shut for an hour for lunch! Wish I could get away with that now! I increased the opening hours and our HND to around 850 at its zenith. In 2007 an opportunity arose to buy the freehold. I took it, borrowed £90,000 from the bank to extend from 400 square feet to 800 plus square feet and became a convenience store trading as a Premier.

SR: 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.

KT: Stop Shop News is situated in Edgware, Middlesex, and is primarily a HND newsagent, tobacconist and confectioner, together with a good selection of greeting cards. We have just introduced an off licence on a small scale as we still close at our usual time of 6pm.


When did you join the Federation and why?


KB: We joined in 1999 when Paul Hunter, the area manager at that time, visited our shop and invited us to a local meeting. We were hooked after that.

MD: In 2011 I was having issues with my wholesaler and not getting anywhere. I joined the NFRN and the then district president invited me to attend meetings. By getting involved I realised I could ultimately help members who had the same sort of problems as me.

MM: Shortly after opening my store, at the invitation of a fellow trader, I was introduced to the Federation and I was eager to join as I believed it was the way forward. I could see the benefits and opportunity it would bring me and our business. Needless to say I have never looked back.

JP: Life is a fight and you have to stay ahead of the game to survive and win. I had always been in the Federation, but apart from attending the mass meetings that greeted Cap’n Bob Maxwell’s forays against the trade, I didn’t become involved till the mid 1990s.

SR: 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.

KT: I was aware of the NFRN in Kent as we were paying subs as a matter of course and then attended a few meetings and made some good friends. It was more of a social get together as we managed to sort out a lot of wholesaler problems by talking to the depot managers directly in those days.


What official positions have you/do you hold?


KB: I am the branch secretary for Leeds and Five Towns branches. I was on the district executive for Yorkshire for three years.

MD: I am currently vice president of the North West district, a national councillor and I sit on the National Executive Committee, public affairs and communications committee and the news operations committee.

MM: Over the years I have held numerous positions from branch president, executive member, national councillor and district president, to most currently being on the NEC.

JP: Having joined my local branch I was soon ‘promoted’ to the executive and then branch vice-chairman. I hadn’t even heard of district council let alone national council, I soon would though. I became branch secretary and also a member of the district council, becoming president over a number of years. Since 2005 I have been a national councillor, though I stood down for a couple of years in 2012.

SR: 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.

KT: I became active in the London district and my London North West branch a while ago and was privileged to have been elected branch president and subsequently the branch delegate to the district. I am currently branch treasurer. From 2013-2014 I was honoured to serve as the district president. I continue to serve on the district executive committee and have been a national councillor for many years.


How have you personally helped fellow NFRN members?


KB: As branch secretary my phone number is widely available for members to call when they have any problems. This mainly involves liaising with Menzies over delivery times, supply and allocations. At our branch meetings members are welcome to come with issues and I can usually resolve them.

MD: I have helped numerous members with Menzies and Smiths issues by resolving instances of late deliveries, which were affecting their morning trade. I also helped East Lancashire members who had problems with flooding. I gave assistance to a papergirl who works for one of our members and comes from a deprived family so she could attend a school education trip to France. I am a conduit for members in the district to help resolve their problems.

MM: I have always had a strong desire to help people. It is very rewarding to be in the position to extend a helping hand to a fellow member; not only is it our motto but it is one of the most positive bonuses of membership of such an organisation.

JP: I have always been approachable and encourage anyone with problems to contact me. Despite the growth of NFRN Connect, people often still do. Unfortunately, one of the main ways I have helped members has been to take their stock off them when they have put the shutters down for good.

SR: 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.

KT: Belonging to the NFRN is akin to having a large circle of family and friends constantly helping each other. Attending dozens of different branches has enabled me to meet many members and assist with wholesaler issues, and even shop lease problems. By getting them in touch with our NFRN Legal Advice Team I have helped a member suing a high street bank after he was offered an inappropriate account unsuitable to his businesses which had catastrophic effect. He lost one business and is working hard to maintain the one he has left. I have also helped to organise trade shows, getting the best deals for the night meaning more money in the tills of our members, and socials offering networking opportunities with invited suppliers.


Why should you be elected deputy vice president?


KB: I believe I would bring different aspects to the role of DVP. As a strong determined woman who relishes challenge, I know I can highlight the importance of our members in parliament, negotiate deals and services with suppliers and strive to use my passion of the news trade to engage with the heads of the news industry.

MD: The bread and butter business for most independent retailers is news and magazines, so I would ensure all is done to raise awareness of the challenges that we face on a daily basis and ensure support is there for members when they need it most. Rising
crime is a very threatening menace, so I would look to engage with police and crime commissioners and also the government to gain the support required to assist members. I can bring a breath of fresh air to the role with new, young ideas and my total commitment to the members.

MM: My most unique attribute is passion, as without this it is impossible to perform my job. My strongest quality is my determination, not only taking on every challenge head on and doing what needs to be done in order to accomplish my goals, but also my strong desire to help people. I believe I can bring the dedication and drive necessary to succeed.

JP: I believe I am in a good position to represent all our members’ interests right to the highest level. I look forward to a future where small businesses such as ours are truly valued and not just paid lip service to by the powers that be.

SR: 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.

KT: With legislation on tobacco and vaping products eroding sales, margin reductions on newspapers and magazines and falling sales, talk of a sugar tax, an increased living wage, higher rates, increased competition by the multiples and growing incidents of retail crime, members are facing a tough future. I would like the NFRN to engage and lobby vociferously with the law makers and the MPs on the issues affecting us. I would press hard with our wholesalers and publishers to safeguard our margins and sales and lobby to overturn the delivery charges imposed on us.


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


KB: The NFRN is a widely respected organisation within our industry and I feel that many retailers are not aware of how much we can do to support them, build their businesses, and provide unique business opportunities. We represent 15,000 members and if we increase our membership we can attract even better deals from suppliers. Personally, I feel we need to communicate with our members better. However, we do have a call centre, website and social media in which members can contact us.

MD: The NFRN needs to shout more on its achievements; we do so much for members, much of which is unrecognised. Many members are unaware of all the benefits that they have and these need to be shouted about. We are the fourth emergency service. There should be more large trade shows and events that non-members can attend so the benefits and advantages of membership can be explained.

MM: We need to get better at communicating with our grass root members, and get them involved at all levels, particularly lobbying at local and parliamentary level.

SR: 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.

KT: We are doing a good job already, but we could do better! Meetings should be more attractive to new and younger members by becoming more of a social networking event. We should also hold more local trade shows.


What do you do in your spare time?


KB: My business is run from home so once all the papers are out and the returns completed, my focus turns to my teenage boys to get them to school. In between chauffeuring the boys to rugby and football and cheerleading from the side lines, I enjoy dog walking and reading.

MD: I play a very big part in the community and provide funding for local schools for football kits. I support our local hospice in Bolton and help raise funds to ensure the continuity of the fantastic service it offers. Not that I get much leisure time, but I also enjoy walks in the countryside and supporting Manchester United.

MM: Whatever spare time comes my way I enjoy a game of golf, weather permitting.

JP: Spare time, what’s that? Given the chance I like to go wandering in the hills. I look forward to Sundays as I try to do minimal shop work then, and with my wife and daughter (23) try to go off for an excursion to National Trust properties, for example.

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

KT: A newsagent with spare time? Chance would be a fine thing! Joking aside, I enjoy NFRN events, listening to music – a bit of dancing, a bit of singing, reading, eating out, socialising and visiting historical places of interest, when time permits!

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NFRN delegates at NFRN Annual Conference
Linda Sood and Ray Monnelle on stage NFRN Annual Conference 2016