A Breath of Fresh AIR!

AIR has always been about cheering on our fellow Independents, about joining forces, inspiring and supporting each other, standing as one. Camaraderie over competition. Our latest Networking Event – our biggest and best to date – underlined the passion that runs through our organisation and throughout our sector. There was a buzz of consensus in a standing-room-only Joe Allen, a wave of support for a group of individuals who simply want to bring something back to the industry.

It was the perfect opportunity not only to unveil our shiny new website (please let us know what you think!) but also our ambitious growth plans. AIR may be made up of small Independents, but we have big plans for the future, plans to grow and become a nationwide organisation and give a voice to the thousands of restaurants and hospitality outlets flying the flag for the Independent up and down the land.

To show our commitment to building an army of Independents across the UK, we also unveiled a big change to our membership … which is now FREE for all Independents within the restaurant & hospitality sector! But we’ve only been able to do this thanks to the incredible support of our Supplier Members. Every single Supplier we’ve spoken to wants us to succeed; they, too, want to see the Independent sector thrive and prosper. We are their market.

We all know that it’s Independents who make the hospitality sector special, bringing innovation, diversity and creativity. None of us wants to see our town and city centres hijacked by the same old formulaic brands. And that’s why AIR is so important.

Being an Independent is certainly ‘on trend’ right now (even the big boys are trying to get in on the act, with ‘indie brands’ popping up all over the place) and there’s an ongoing and very definite desire among consumers to go ‘local’. AIR’s job is to encourage our Members to seize this opportunity and to help them deal with the very things that currently make the playing field decidedly less level than it should be.

AIR was originally launched on the back of the enthusiasm of a group of like-minded Independents who set out to provide the sector with the voice it was sorely lacking and its Members with a ‘club’ that not only brought them together but delivered tangible benefits in terms of savings, networking, advice and support.

From the outset, I have found myself swept along by the infectious energy and positivity of the Co-Founders and their commitment to grow AIR to become a nationwide force. It’s heartening to work with a bunch of people who have remained true to their original vision: to see a profitable, thriving sector in which Independents compete on more of an even footing with their bigger competitors. How many people can say that?

There’s certainly a long way to go but exciting times lie ahead. We are ready for lift-off and only need one thing to fly: fresh AIR. So why not come and join us, too?

Mark Linehan

Big Flavour