More experts join speaker line up for bira’s High Street Conference

The future of retail and the opportunities available to independent retailers and suppliers will be the focus of bira’s High Street Conference in May.

The British Independent Retailers Association (bira) says it has secured ‘game changers from within, as well as outside the retail industry, to illustrate new trends and developments that will shape the way customers shop’. The conference will look in particular at how to address digital advances with a bricks and mortar business.

The event will take place at Chateau Impney in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, on Wednesday May 11.

Shanker Patel, ceo of the Lords Group of Companies, will give the retailer address, drawing on his experiences in business.

The Lords Group is a highly diversified family-owned firm involved in retail, distribution and manufacturing of construction materials, employing over 200 people. Its principal trading arms are Lords Builders Merchants and award-winning multiple housewares retailer Lords at Home, which has just scooped an international award for housewares retail excellence.

Shanker will be joined on stage by Greg Williams, deputy editor of WIRED magazine, which reports on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy and politics. He writes on a variety of subjects, including innovation, business, creativity and ideas. Greg will speak about what’s new and what’s next and how businesses and brands can best prepare themselves for what’s coming.

Claire Harper will also give a presentation. The owner of online childrenswear store IndiaCoco and former marketing director of retail chain Mamas & Papas is a leading business figure with experience in change management, branding and enterprise. She will share her journey from corporate marketeer to fledgling entrepreneur.

Finally, ‘gift wrap guru’ Jane Means will  talk about her global business. Her gift wrapping courses attract clients worldwide, and she provides training in the UK, Singapore and Australia. She has trained staff at London retailers Fortnum and Mason and Harrods and provided services for royalty and celebrities. Jane is brand ambassador for Scotch Tape, and recently launched her own gift wrapping book.  

Bira direct will play a key role in the event as headline sponsor, showing support for independent retailers and suppliers who serve the independent trade. Bira direct uses the combined purchasing power of over 7,000 members of bira to negotiate better buying terms for them.

Jeff Moody, managing director of bira direct, said: “We see the day as a key investment in our members’ business for today and tomorrow. The quality of relevant and insightful speakers makes this a not to be missed conference, for independent retailers of all market sectors.”

Bira national president 2016-2017 Vin Vara, who is managing director of Tool Shop Group in London, said: “As a retailer I know how important it is to keep up with the developments within retail, in order to meet our customers’ needs and to compete on the high street.

“Our speakers have been specifically chosen for their opinions on future technologies, advice on dealing with changes and adapting business models to meet the needs of customers. By coming together we can pool our expertise, share new ideas, and learn to adapt for a stronger future.”

As well as hearing from bira’s speakers, 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 on hand during the proceedings.

The day concludes with the bira Awards and Gala Dinner, where the UK’s best independent retailers will be celebrated.

Visit for more information and to download the booking form.


Speaker: Shanker Patel, ceo of the Lords Group of Companies


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