Sir, Over the past week independent retailers, wholesalers and suppliers have been involved in the annual National Independents’ Week. Newsagents, c-stores and rural shops have adopted or adapted the concept of the FWD My Shop Is Your Shop campaign and waved the flag of the retailer who lives over the shop.

The FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) was formed in 2003 as an experiment to drive MSYS. Access to PRAG is open to any independent retailer, wholesaler or supplier and their representatives. If you attend you automatically signal your interest in promoting the positive values of the local shop. 

PRAG does not tolerate trade politics. This sometimes causes confusion. Some meetings lack excitement. Others catch fire. We have had some rows!
But a core of continued committed support has ensured that MSYS has now celebrated its sixth NIW, thanks to PRAG members past and present and their very supportive businesses. This will astonish those who believed it was impossible to get a wholesale/independent generic PR and trade marketing campaign off the ground. We still have a scattering of agnostic MSYS sceptics. 

But if they spent half an hour with, say, Glenn Bowman, the Romsey Best-one retailer, and his customers, as I did on National Cuppa Day on Wednesday, they would admit that MSYS has influenced how positively many retailers think about marketing their business on a community basis. 

That is all MSYS set out to do, nothing more and nothing less. It’s just that it is still in its infancy and there’s more to do. 

Alan Toft, Chairman, MSYS