TEN of the countryâs top fishing shops have come together to form the Association of Independent Retailers that could take on the dominance of Angling Direct.
The AIR fishing trade group –Â the Association of Independent Retailers – intends to promote the sport and collectively support local trade in the face of fierce competition from internet sales and big retail stores. It also hopes to get exclusive fishing products.
As Anglerâs Mail revealed last week, the AIR fishing group has already sponsored the England Ladies Carp Team with an undisclosed cash deal.
Chairman Kevin Peet, owner of highly regarded shop, The Tackle Box in Dartford, Kent, explained why the AIR fishing group has emerged.
Kevin said: âQuality, service, knowledge, passion and dedication to the sport that we all love is becoming increasingly rare across the angling industry, and it was this realisation that brought us together.
âWe are united in our desire to improve angling for all, and we also have the passion, as anglers ourselves, to care for the long-term future of our sport.
âAlthough there are other factors contributing to the decline in interest in fishing, one of the main reasons is the disappearance of âlocalâ tackle shops that have in the past supported the interest in angling and kept it going in all areas. Thousands of shops have gone.
âIt is the lack of finance that ultimately kills off not just tackle shops, but any business.
âThe cause of this, particularly in the tackle trade, is the creation, by some suppliers, of an uneven playing field.
“The reality of this, and some bad retail practices for many years, is where we find ourselves heading now, to a world where there will be no independent tackle shops and fewer anglers because there is nowhere to support that interest.
âThe idea of the formation of the AIR group was to try to address a lot of the issues, firstly within the trade, but mainly to create a bigger voice to promote and encourage people of all ages and genders to try our sport, and where we can, support charitable organisations via tackle sales.
âThe launch of the limited addition pink Spomb was the first in a series of unique products commissioned by AIR, and is exclusively available in the stores that form the group. Â£2 from every sale of the pink Spomb is being donated to Breast Cancer Support, half by us and half by Fox International, and there will be other future projects along these lines.
âFrom a public aspect, we hope to help create well stocked shops where customer service is second to none and to support our local fisheries where possible, to create and maintain top quality environments to fish in, via the finances brought in by the promotion of our sport to current non-anglers and bringing past anglers back,â Kevin concluded.
AIR fishing group puts back into sport
Fellow AIR fishing group member Steve Lee, of Bedfordshireâs Browns Angling, added: âItâs important as an independent retailer to put something back into this sport, and the AIR group will be involved in fundraising, charity work and sponsorship deals that will encourage new blood into it.â
The other eight members are: Fat Fish Tackle, in Kent, Johnson Ross, in Hertfordshire, HF Angling, in Cheshire, Carp Scene/Carp Store, in Derbyshire, Arun Angling, in West Sussex, Wickersley Angling, in South Yorkshire, Total Angling, in Shropshire, and Surreyâs Yateley Angling Centre.
Angling Direct now has 34 stores nationwide, after a new Barnsley shop opened in December, their seventh new shop of 2019, and plan for even more stores in 2020. Its growth comes at the time when even large traders like Fishtec and Erics Angling Centre have closed.
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