Jason Birks The Fed

Northern retailer Jason Birks has been elected national president for The Fed at its annual conference in Birmingham this week.

He takes over from Narinder Randhawa, who has held the role since October 2021.

Speaking on his election, Birks thanked his district for their support, and said: “I give four days a week to The Fed and I’m 100% committed. I’ve always wanted what’s best for the members. I’ve never forgotten that and never will. We are a great federation.”

Last year, Randhawa won a vote by 51% to be named national president, beating Muntazir Dipoti from the North West district, who was national vice-president at the time.

This year, Scottish member Mo Razzaq held his position as national deputy vice-president, allowing Dipoti to become national vice-president, with a view to being elected national president in 2023.

In his opening speech at the conference, Randhawa spoke about the event’s theme: Innovation and protecting your future. He said: “Innovation and protecting your future have been at the forefront of everything I set out to achieve when elected as your national president just eight months ago, and they will remain our priorities for the months – and years – to come.”

He praised the successes of the federation since October, despite the cost-of-living crisis and challenges facing the independent sector. These included the passing of legislation to give shopworkers greater protection from abuse and assault, and The Fed’s Contact Centre recouping £1.5m for its members.

The two-day conference included a retail crime panel session, discussing the challenges retailers are facing on the shopfloor, and a newstrade panel that tackled delivery and supply issues with publishers and news wholesalers.

Speaking on the newstrade, Birks said: “We will continue to be absolutely focused on news,” but he called for the need for “a level playing field” with news wholesalers.

There were also several presentations from suppliers, such as Booker Group, Mondelez and JTI, on opportunities for independent retailers to boost their profits.

In additional elections, 12 candidates went head to head for the national executive committee, with the successful six retailers named as Hussan Lal, Martin Ward, Andrew Taylor, Shumaila Malik, Anant Patel and Hetal Patel.

Colin Reed and Davendra Patel were elected to the national finance committee, while Mike Hopkins and Fred Pezhman were elected to the standing orders committee. Surjit Khunkhun was elected a national trustee on a three-year term.

Full coverage of The Fed’s annual conference will be in next week’s RN

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