WATCH: “We want NAHS membership to be a no-brainer, without barriers to signing up’

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In a video interview for Natural Newsdesk, the new co-chairs of the (UK) National Association of Health Stores say they want to make NAHS membership “a no-brainer”, and as frictionless “as simply clicking a button”. 

Len Glenville and Melanie Beard took over the role earlier in the summer. Strictly speaking, Glenville is chair, and Beard deputy chair, but in practice the role will be a shared one. This, they say, is effectively an extension of the way they jointly run their growing retail chain Best Health Food Shop (which currently has five stores in Sussex and Kent). 

Glenville explains: “It’s how we work together in the shops. We have very different skill sets. They’re complementary but very much two ends of the spectrum. I am a business strategy, overview focused person, Mel is very day-to-day focused, knows the products inside out, knows all the people in the industry. We hope we can bring that combination of skills and experience together in the NAHS as well.” 

Beard adds: “It seems like a natural progression to combine the roles with the NAHS because it seems to work very well in the business. While we don’t have the wealth of experience, and knowledge, that Gary (former NAHS chair, Gary Trickett) had, we felt that between us maybe we could bring something to the table.”

Discussing the appeal of NAHS membership to retailers like themselves, Beard says: “When we signed up a few years ago at the Natural Products show, we were very much drawn in by being part of something bigger. And also being part of a community of like-minded retailers, and the affiliation with BIRA and the benefits of that.”

Glenville agrees that ‘support’ was a key attraction, explaining: “When we came into the industry just a few years ago we had no direct retail experience. To be able to email into the NAHS and say, for example, ‘we’ve been having problems with this supplier, we’re not really sure what to do here – can you help?’ – and always get a reply, or have someone pick up the phone, was really invaluable. That support works so well because this is such a collaborative industry, where people genuinely want to help you out.” 

“There shouldn’t be any barriers to becoming a member, it should be the easiest, simplest thing to do. In fact, joining is now is simply a case of clicking ‘add to basket’. We want NAHS membership to be a non-brainer”.

The pair have ambitious plans for developing the NAHS in the coming years, which they have set out in a “ten point manifesto”.  These include boosting membership through enhanced marketing and stronger branding, making better use of available technology, updating the NAHS website, increasing the number of patrons, associates and supporters, and strengthening the reputation of the NAHS.  

Beard comments: “We’d like more clarity on what the NAHS offers, and why every health store should be a member. But we also need to be working closely with our current members, and our current committee members – in other words, getting current members more involved. By drawing on their experience and ideas we can help shape the benefits and future offer of the NAHS. There shouldn’t be any barriers to becoming a member. It should be the easiest, simplest thing to do. In fact, joining is now simply a case of clicking ‘add to basket’. We want NAHS membership to be a non-brainer”. 

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