comment JULIE HOLDENDirector of Splendid Work based near Tamworth in Staffordshire On The Move

management experience within the education sector, firstly within FE [Further Education] colleges and then a further five years at Cambridge Assessment’s leading examinations board, OCR.

I initially joined Bira as interim head of

marketing and events whilst working freelance. During the interim contract, the full time permanent role of NMM became vacant, which required a complex mix of skills and experience, which made it an ideal choice.

And where are you now? Where were you?

Until the end of September, my role was National Membership Manager (NMM) at the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira). Readers may be more familiar with Bira’s specialist division for the housewares retail sector, formerly known as the Cookshop and Housewares Association (CHA). As NMM I was responsible for the

recruitment and retention of retail members and I directly line managed several teams, including a field-based sales team covering the whole of the UK, a national telesales team and an office-based subscriptions team. I also took direct responsibility for ‘key accounts’ which included the larger independent retailers, including department stores and groups such as other associations and buying groups.

And how did you get there? I originally started my working career in retail, working on a jewellery stall in Barnsley Market at the age of 15. When my boss went off for a coffee, I’d busy myself with shuffling stock around and reorganising the displays, which I later understood to be key merchandising skills! At 19, I moved to Birmingham to join an outbound telesales team within a family-owned electrical spare parts company called Electruepart. Little did I know they were destined to grow into the multi-million pound distributor, Connect Distribution. From there I went into mobile telecoms to sell mobile phones, the smallest of which was the size of a house brick! I returned to the retail sector to work for Sears plc, serving five years as retail training executive and four years as internal and external communications manager. Other roles have included business fundraiser for children’s charity Barnardo’s and membership and marketing manager at the UK IT Association. I gained additional marketing and campaign

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The idea for my business Splendid Work has been around for many years and if I hadn’t joined Bira in a full time permanent role, I may have launched it four years ago. My new business provides freelance business development services. This includes senior level strategic input, management and leadership support and hands-on business development activities. It provides a national service from a Midlands based location, near Tamworth in Staffordshire. Within the first two weeks of launching I

secured an amazing contract to work as membership development director for multi- award-winning ShopAppy: a web-based platform that builds a community of local businesses and place managers, to generate footfall and increase the level of spend within our towns and cities.

High point of your career? There have been many high points along the way and joining the team at ShopAppy is definitely up there! Another key highlight of my career has to be signing up Morleys Department Stores as a Bira member a couple of years ago. I was told that many had tried and failed over a period of 15 years.

And the low point? For me, the low points come when I hear about fantastic retail businesses failing due to the current trading climate. As NMM at Bira, I have personally spoken to far too many of these and the trend looks set to continue, for now at least. I hope that shoppers can change their habits, to consider their local places and to give hardworking independent retailers a higher share of their purse.

What will you miss? I’m going to miss my fantastic team and the rest of the people at Bira, including the

members. It has been a very special place to work and I have loved my time there.

What won’t you miss? I won’t miss the commute into Birmingham, which I did three or four times a week.

What’s next? I’ll be focusing on some key priorities for ShopAppy, as they prepare for some exciting enhancements to their platform and develop a strategy for growing the number of towns and places that implement the scheme.

Is it goodbye or au revoir to the housewares industry? Oh, it’s definitely not goodbye. There are so many opportunities to stay connected and my ShopAppy project will mean that I’ll no doubt be seeing some of Bira’s housewares members every now and again.

Julie’s contact details are: Mobile: 07952 531879


To find out more about Splendid Work visit Julie’s page on LinkedIn:

AT A GLANCE is a website that was created to ‘revive British High Streets by providing an alternative to supermarkets and online retail giants, allowing customers to book events and experiences as well as browse and buy local products online’. A click-and-collect service allows people to buy

from their local shops 24/7 and pick goods up from out-of-hours collection points, usually a pub or other late-night opening venue. The site doesn’t take commission on sales.

There are 28 towns signed up to with businesses ranging from greengrocers to hairdressers, with another 75 towns now considering the scheme. It is the brainchild of Dr Jackie Mulligan, a former academic and a shop-local fan from Saltaire in West Yorkshire. Her motivation was to give every local business in every town a 24-hour shop window and the power of a superstore by having all the local products in one place, making it easier for customers to support local shopping.

To find out more about ShopAppy visit the ShopAppy website:

October/November 2019

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