Focus on Brexit at future of retail conference

(FILES) In this February 10, 2015 file photo, British Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna speaks at the British Chambers of Commerce in central London . Rising political star Chuka Umunna announced May 12, 2015 he will run for leadership of Britain's Labour Party as it seeks to rebuild following last week's devastating election defeat.     AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS        (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The British Independent Retail Association (bira) will welcome former Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna to this year’s High Street Conference to discuss how retailers could be affected by the UK’s EU referendum.

Umunna will talk to delegates about what any potential changes to Britain’s relationship with Europe might mean for independent retailers.

The announcement comes weeks after retail heavyweights, including Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold and Marks & Spencer outgoing CEO Marc Bolland, signed an anti-Brexit letter addressed to The Times.

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The signatories joined the campaign to remain in the EU after Prime Minister David Cameron secured a commitment from the Union to “reduce the burden of regulation, deepen the single market and to sign-off crucial international trade deals”.

Umunna, who served as the Shadow Business Secretary from 2011-15, will join Greg Williams from Wired magazine along with a number of other speakers at the Chateau Impney in Worcestershire on May 11.

Shanker Patel from the Lords Group of Companies, and Claire Harper, owner of independent childrenswear retailer IndiaCoco, will be looking at the future of retail, with a particular focus on how digital technology can work with, rather than against, bricks and mortar businesses.

Delegates will be able to network with fellow retailers and suppliers and will have time to talk to bira’s service partners who will be available during the day.

Vin Vara, bira National president said: “The speaker programme is just one part of what will be a day full of inspiring and valuable experiences for retailers. We know that time is short so retailers will want to make the most of their time out of the shop, that is why we are providing a truly stimulating day that will leave retailers feeling excited for the future.”

bira will also celebrate the UK’s best independent retailers at the event’s British Independent Retail Awards 2016.

These rousing awards will recognise and reward the talent, hard work, innovation and achievements of members, celebrating their shining successes as independent retailers in the UK.

Sarah Golden, marketing and membership director at bira said: “It’s not often that independent retailers pat themselves on the back and celebrate their own successes. We recognise how hard our retailers work and our annual awards ceremony highlights the outstanding job they do.

“It is well worth entering the awards as they are a great way to raise the profile of businesses amongst the independent family and also recognise how hard retailers and their team’s work.”

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