Gifts Today magazine

Banking on success

A milestone in turnover reached last month for the second time in a year by bira bank reveals both good growth and great confidence in UK retail

There are more independent retailers on the high streets of the UK than at any time since 2010. New research by the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) and the Local Data Company (LDC) shows that we are in the fourth straight year of growth in their numbers, the key fact that has seen the national shop vacancy fall from 14.6% to 13.3% in that period.

The confidence of those independents has been rising too, according to bira surveys, and this is reflected in increased borrowings from bira's own in-house bank, bira bank. Whilst it is acknowledged that it is still difficult for many SMEs to access funding from high street lenders, bira members can access their bank's products quickly and easily as part of membership services and this has resulted in the second million-pound month of lending to small shops this year.

Having broken through the £7m turnover barrier for only the second time in its history in 2013, March 2014 saw bira bank achieve another lending milestone with £1 million of loans to independent retailers for the first time in its 59 year history. This feat was repeated in September 2014 as a result of increased member confidence to take advantage of low borrowing costs and tax incentives to invest in their businesses.

A wholly-owned part of bira, bira bank provides a specialist service, helping to support independent retailers, enabling them to grow and develop their businesses. With a core range of seven financial products in its portfolio and new developments planned for next year, bira bank is always looking to support the independent retailer, whether with new products or modifications to existing ones. The bank operates a traditional approach to banking with someone always on hand to deliver a professional and easy to use service.

One bira member and bira bank customer, Janine Tozer, owner of Not Just Pets, commented: "Using bira bank has been essential to our business success, providing us no-nonsense business loans at the most competitive rates at crucial times, backed up by a friendly, helpful and supportive team. Another true benefit to being a member of bira."

John Collins, Managing Director of bira bank, commented: "We're extremely proud to reach this milestone in turnover for the second time in a year. This performance has contributed to a 26% increase in lending to members in the year to date as more as more members take advantage of a return to traditional banking values. We're proud that members can speak to an experienced manager with many years of retail banking behind him and who acts with speed and awareness of the importance of the service they provide to members."

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