Gifts Today magazine

bira bank celebrates record-breaking 2014

Lending is up 26% for the bank that says 'Yes' to independent UK retailers

The UK’s only trade association bank is celebrating a record breaking 2014. Having twice surpassed the £1 million barrier of lending in a month to members during 2014, the first time in its 59-year history, the bank rounded the year off with a 26% increase in overall lending compared with 2013.

Its portfolio of financial products enjoyed year on year growth across the range, most noticeably 62% on vehicle lending and 255% on equipment loans. Low borrowing costs, tax incentives and an increase in confidence amongst small shops are cited as the key driving forces, ably supported by the bank’s specialist team.

The bank wrote 20% more agreements than in 2013, supporting the trade association’s members with their financial needs. Significantly, 25% of all enquiries came from new sources demonstrating a confidence to not only invest in their business but to use their own trade association bank as an alternative to more conventional sources.

As part of the British Independent Retailers Association (bira), bira bank provides a specialist service, with the aim of supporting and enabling independent retailers to grow and develop their businesses. With a core range of seven financial products in its portfolio and plans to add further products, bira bank is always looking to support the independent retailer in an intensely competitive marketplace.

Whilst it is acknowledged that it is still difficult for many SME’s to access funding from high street lenders, bira members can access their bank’s products quickly and easily as part of membership services. The bank operates a traditional approach to banking with someone always on hand to deliver a professional and easy to use service.

John Collins, Managing Director of bira bank, commented: “The bank worked tirelessly last year to satisfy as many bira member enquiries as possible, whilst coping with the same pressures any other regulated bank has to contend with these days. The year-end figures are a reflection of the commitment of the team to bira members, as we aim to not only help independent retailers survive but to enable them to flourish and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. This level of growth in the current market is fantastic by any standard and one we will be aiming to sustain in 2015 and this is only part of the picture. What really excites me is the number of enquiries from first time users we are receiving and converting which is reassuring for the future growth plans the bank has adopted.”

David Pears, Executive Director of bira bank went on to say: “The bank celebrates its 60th year of business in 2015 and the growth shown in last year is testament to the depth of experience and knowledge the bank holds for our members. Our most popular products such as vehicle and equipment lending have increased significantly, we like to say yes where we can and our members like to challenge us. We recently financed our first fleet of 10 vans for a member as well as a couple of £100k+ specialist lorries.”

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About bira bank
bira bank is the only trade association owned bank in the UK. As part of the British Independent Retails Association they specialise in products that benefit independent retailers both commercially and privately.

The British Independent Retailers Association (bira) is the voice of independent retailers. Its aim is to provide first class support, business services, free advice and specialist representation to its members helping them to trade more effectively, profitably and sustainably for the future.

bira Retail Membership is open to independent retailers across the UK from single retail outlets to small chains, department stores, dealers and merchants, as well as Associate Membership for suppliers, manufacturers and distributors to the independent retail sector.

bira membership connects you with a national network of like-minded retailers, gives you access to free expert knowledge, support and access to a wide range of specialist business services, saving you valuable time and money.

It is passionate about championing independent retailers in the UK and is continually evolving in response to the changing retail world and the needs of its members. In a highly competitive market, it helps independent retailers stay one step ahead.

The British Independent Retailers Association comprises six divisional trade associations across a range of industry sectors. Through dedicated committees, you have an industry voice and benefit from the sharing of specialist trade and product knowledge.
• British Hardware Federation (BHF)
• Fashion Association of Britain (FAB)
• Cookshop and Housewares Association (CHA)
• British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association (BAGMA)
• Pet Product Retail Association (PPRA)
• Home Decoration Retailers Association (HDRA)

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