It’s your usual meeting room in a Midlands hotel (well, it’s in the sedate pastoral setting of suburban Stratford-upon-Avon to be accurate). Arranged committee style, the meeting discusses the next steps in the MSYS campaign leading to and including the third annual National Independents’ Day (NID) on June lst. And beyond.
What makes this meeting different from so many taking place in the grocery trade on a wintry day in early spring is the agenda. There are no references to market share, out-of-stocks, grocery politics, no hard-nosed men (and women) testing each other out … not a sliver of testosterone in sight.
What is clearly on the table is what is known as “the common good”. This is a PRAG meeting where some of the best brains and creative instincts in the supplier/wholesale community are engaged in an upbeat gear.
The media, parliament, environmentalists, women’s lobbies, defenders of the rural and so on have made the local independent retailer a news item.
Some of that news is not positive. But it should be.
== JEWELS IN THE MARKET ==
PRAG is unique in that it promotes an independent sector which, although it is under threat (when was it not?), contains so many shops serving their communities with distinction.
These jewels in the market are important to all types of shopper. But do consumers appreciate this importance?
These shoppers range from twenty somethings buying their daily cigarettes and a tabloid, or Hello!, on the way to the office, young mums dragging truculent children, the middle aged chap down on his luck, the “comfortable” pensioner, the vulnerable….
All human life is here.
On the other side of the counter these shoppers see the same faces every day, local people sharing the experiences of the local community – the retailer probably lives over the shop with their partner and children.
This interface is uniquely local.
The people who run this shop are local and proud of it. It is their shop, but it is also the community’s. The connection is unbreakable.
PRAG is meeting to finalise the plans for June lst, the day on which the trade will be invited to help celebrate the diversity that the independent grocer and newsagent bring to their locality. Public relations and marketing professionals are in attendance. Their ideas are submitted, chewed over, accepted, refused, amended.
== LOCAL AND PROUD OF IT ==
Successful retailers have an opportunity to appear in front of TV cameras in Manchester, Aberdeen, Glossop, Stow-In-The-Wold, Gateshead and points west.
If you know of independents who have a good local story to tell on camera let the FWD’s head office know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Cash and carry managers have the opportunity, working individually according to their own philosophies, to diary and promote June lst to remind their retailers.
PRAG plans to get more stickers boldly proclaiming My Shop Is Your Shop, Local And Proud Of It on the windows of more owner-managed stores.
This iconic logo informs the shopper of the independence of the store when the superstores and the Co-op are forecast to dominate the local shop market with their homogeny.
== MORE CHOICE NOT LESS ==
And it does so just at the moment in time when the population is beginning to signify that it wants diversity, more choice not less.
Before it’s time for sandwiches and chips – a speciality at the hotel – a programme has been hammered out. More ideas have poured on to the table, to be developed over time.
Meanwhile, in the corner shop down the road, the daily routine of serving customers with their daily needs goes on, offering a smile and a thank you, of asking when Olive’s operation is due after being cancelled again… and so on.
The owner is unaware that just up the road PRAG is seeking to put their type of business in focus on one day in June and planning to inject into the shoppers’ consciousness more awareness of the independent every day of the year.
=== The people who make PRAG tick ===
Barry Wallis (Spar), Barrie Breward (Nisa-Today’s), Chris Rose (Landmark Wholesale), Steve Fox (Booker C C ), Claire Henriques (Booker C C), Geoff Monk (Bestway), Mike Fitton Â (Musgrave Budgens Londis), Rosie McFarlane (MBL), Sue Knowles (Costco), Graham Shelley (IMA), Emma Sadler (Parfetts) and Sarah Atkins (Makro).
Graham Walker (Nestlé Rowntree, representing all Nestlé companies), Ian Toft (Unilever IC FF), James Russell (Gallaher), Jo Grainger (Constellation Wines), John Heynen (Coors Brewers), Mark Riley (Diageo), Andrew Macer (Pepsico), Kenny Chisholm (CCE), and Toby Manton (Carlsberg).
Graeme Collins (NFRN), Catherine Tong (NFRN), Sean Carter (RSA), Alan Twigg (Nexus pr consultants), Ann Merritt (admin manager). Alan Toft is the chairman.
Independent Â (sole trader owner manager) retail representation will be invited to the next meeting .
=== contacts ===
FWD 01323 724952 email@example.com
IMA 0161 440 2770 firstname.lastname@example.org
Nexus PR Consultants email@example.com