“It’s good to talk” was the slogan for British Telecom many moons ago and it’s true that dialogue is vital, which is why engaging with all parts of our industry is something that I want to do during my term as your National President.

Talking to as many of you, our members, as we can to gain a better understanding of the challenges you face is top of my list, so the NFRN’s comprehensive benefits and services can be even better tailored to your needs.

To date, our programme of joint open days and social events has been incredibly effective in bringing together members, and I am delighted that these are being rolled out to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland later this year. But, running alongside these will be a series of focus groups where younger retailers can share their experiences of building successful businesses and advise on the future direction they would like the NFRN to take.

Secondly, we will engage with non members to show that we mean business and that we provide the best representation and assistance in a difficult and ever changing marketplace.

Engagement with politicians is also key, and you you will see that I want to talk to ministers face-to-face to make them aware of the consequences of their decision making and the many ways in which they can lend assistance and support to independent retailers.

I hope every one of you will rise to my challenge and meet your own MP between now and Annual Conference next year, as well as engaging with police chiefs, such as your local chief constable or your police and crime commissioner. That way we will send a very clear message that rising instances of retail crime and poor police responses can no longer be tolerated.

Through our successful news forums or through regular meetings with news wholesalers and suppliers we will continue to press for an end to the injustices and unfairness that currently plague us.

To secure the future of news – and particularly home news delivery – we must all get round the table to right the wrongs and find solutions. Publishers will be left in no doubt that they must take some responsibility; they must stop thinking about themselves and their shareholders and demonstrate a real willingness to tackle late deliveries, rising costs and falling sales. The alternative is to see the entire distribution network collapsing.

And while we regularly engage with our suppliers, new relationships will be built to enable members to fully capitalise on new selling opportunities.

Engaging in this way will ensure that the NFRN continues to offer an extensive range of support activity along with detailed advice and tips that give you full value for your membership fee.

It will also make the NFRN strong, vibrant and forward looking and ready to face the next 100 years.

Mike Mitchelson
NFRN National President

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