Launched during a reception at the Houses of Parliament, hosted by the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, the new look BFA is dedicated to serving and promoting its members in an increasingly complex and challenging retail landscape.
Designed by Leicester based OfficeTwelve, the new website will offer a range of new features for BFA members, including a searchable database of British Footwear companies.
Commenting on the importance of the new site BFA CEO John Saunders said:
“The new website provides us with a vibrant new platform that is integral in enabling us to continue in our commitment to develop and promote apprenticeships, skills and knowledge across the UK footwear sector.”
He added: “It will also give members faster and clearer access to the lobbying & representation we carry out on behalf of UK footwear with government, including Brexit planning.
“A more up to date web presence also gives us the opportunity to greater market and promote the positive things happening in UK footwear.”
Welcoming members to the launch event, the Leader of the house, Andrea Leadsom touched on ‘the elephant in the room’. She spoke of the government’s activity in global jurisdictions and congratulated the industry on the level of engagement with government in often difficult circumstances.
BFA chairman, Dan Gyves then spoke of 120 years of British Footwear, from the 1890’s through to the innovative and globally respected product available today. To mark this, the BFA in partnership with the shoe collection at Northampton Museum have created the ‘12 decades of British Footwear’ story, with a decade released each month throughout 2019 #bfa120.
He noted the challenges faced by the footwear industry in the past were still very much the focus of businesses today.
“From the BFA’s inception in 1898, through to its centenary in 1998, similar issues, albeit with a different and contemporary emphasis repeatedly arise. International trade, training, collective working and bargaining and promotion of our members were the priorities of our members.”
Mr Gyves added: “Trade bodies are critical in enabling industries to collectively debate, collaboratively take action on issues of the day, and facilitating that group knowledge.”
BFA CEO John Saunders stressed the importance of working together in unsettled times, highlighting that members are ‘stronger together’ under the BFA umbrella than they are alone:
“British Footwear continues to prove its resilience and flexibility under pressure. UK shoes are in increasing demand around the world, being recognised for great quality, innovation and design.”
He encouraged BFA members to approach the challenges and changes in trade arising from Brexit, as a chance to push forward positively to a wider, world-wide audience.
“Brexit brings a new set of challenges but the sector is in a great place to exploit the new opportunities that will come from new trade agreements and relationships in the future,” Mr Saunders explained.
“Digital platforms are crucial to the industry, but international trade shows, despite the market challenges we all recognise, are still a vital international promotional tool, and perhaps particularly right now.
“We are supporting firms at international shows such as Micam in Milan and FN Platform in Las Vegas this Spring. For FN Platform we have negotiated an enhanced networking and support package for firms this year and I am looking forward to supporting our members this season.”
BFA members will be invited to a series of roundtables on March 28th 2019.