Theo Paphitis encourages retail businesses to prepare in lead-up to 2014 Independents’ Day

With less than a month to go until Independents’ Day 2014, Theo Paphitis, long time star of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, Chairman of Ryman Stationery and Robert Dyas and founder of the lingerie brand Boux Avenue, has thrown his weight behind the campaign and urged small retail businesses to make use of the training on offer in preparation for the day.

Run by People 1st and the National Skills Academy for Retail (NSAR) and now in its fourth year, the Independents’ Day campaign celebrates the contribution small businesses make to the UK and culminates on 4 July, when the public are encouraged to visit and buy from their local independent tourism and visitor economy businesses.

Paphitis has encouraged businesses to take part in the campaign, and stressed the importance of making sure staff are trained in advance.

He commented: “I would definitely encourage town centres to embrace Independents’ Day. Small and independent businesses are the lifeblood of the UK’s high streets and tourist hotspots, so making sure that they have the right skills for success is vital to the economy.

“Independents’ Day is a fantastic opportunity for small businesses to take the limelight, attract new customers and show off the unique offer that sets them apart. But it’s important that business owners are prepared to take advantage of this opportunity. That means making sure that their staff are trained to deliver excellent service, and that they themselves have the skills to promote their business and maximise sales.”

People 1st and NSAR are providing training support to businesses in the lead-up to this year’s Independents’ Day, with a particular focus on customer service skills through the WorldHost training programme, and online marketing skills through the Digital High Street Skills programme.

Retail businesses in England may also be eligible to take part in the Digital High Street Skills programme at a special subsidised rate until the end of July, thanks to funding support from the Employer Ownership Fund.1

In addition, independent newsagents, convenience stores and out of home operators can enter a competition by Independents’ Day sponsors, Mondelez International, to win one of 30 free places on the Digital High Street Skills programme.

Paphitis added: “The key to growing a small business is not to stand still. The most successful business owners are always looking to learn and develop both their own skills and those of their staff. I would urge small businesses to use the training that is on offer through the Independents’ Day campaign to ensure they really make the most of the celebrations on 4 July.”

Simon Tarr, managing director at People 1st said: “We’re delighted to have Theo’s support for the Independents’ Day campaign – as a successful entrepreneur he clearly understands what it takes for businesses to succeed and grow, and that skills and training is a critical ingredient. We want to ensure that small and independent businesses are able to benefit from improved sales not just on 4 July, but all year round – that’s why we making training such an important part of this year’s campaign.”

A large number of local businesses and towns have already confirmed their support for Independents’ Day and are currently finalising plans for events and activities that will take place on Friday 4 July. The campaign also has the support of 18 trade associations.2

More information on Independents’ Day, how businesses and other organisations can get involved and the training support on offer is available at www.indieday.co.uk

1 The Fund is accessible to all retail businesses with fewer than 250 employees in England and is available until the end of July 2014.

2 Association of Cycle Traders; Association of Town and City Management;  Act Smart; Beverage Standards Association; Bira; Booksellers Association; British Council of Shopping Centres; British Sandwich Association; Entertainment Retailers Association; the Guild of Fine Food; Horticultural Trades Association; the Hospitality Guild; Independent Retailers Confederation; National Association of Goldsmiths; National Federation of Meat and Food Traders; National Federation of Retail Newsagents; Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association; National Market Traders Federation.

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