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BAFTS, the British Association of Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers, brings you the latest news in fair trade retailing.

One vital way that BAFTS members work to bring about improvements in the status of developing world producers and to raise awareness is through fair trade retailing and campaigning. In November 2015, two of our member shops held grand opening events with precisely this in mind. All's Fair, Selby celebrated its official launch mid-November, marking it as the first ever Fairtrade shop in Selby. It simultaneously launched the campaign for Selby to gain Fairtrade Town status along with Linda McAvan MEP, Founder of the All Party European Parliament Fair Trade Group and displayed the #CottonOnToFairtrade bags designed by celebrities.

One World Shop, Edinburgh, moved premises recently, and promoted its family-friendly launch event in its new location towards the end of November. This included free refreshments, a visit from the Lord Provost in a bid to highlight their new situation and a reminder to customers of the benefits to producers and recipients of the wide range of fairly-traded gifts on offer - all nicely in time for Christmas.

January sees the annual trade fairs roll again, when one of the biggest events for our suppliers is Spring Fair at the NEC, when we often have nigh on 30 suppliers exhibiting their new season spring/summer 2016 products, to offer diverse and quality Fairtrade items with which retailers can stock up with again. It's an exciting time of the year. February also sees our Marketing and Membership Coordinator travel to Nuremberg to participate in a one-day Annual Global Fair Trade Exchange entitled Reconnecting: Finding Common Ground for a Stronger Way Forward arranged by American NGO Fair World Project wwwfairworldproject.org. We're delighted that she's attending a meeting where there'll be workshops and networking, focusing on participant-led discussions of key topic areas and ongoing collaborative partnerships. This meeting will attract committed Fairtrade brands, small-scale producers and fair-trade activists from across Europe. The main idea is for participants from various countries to forge stronger links and common fair trade foci, despite there being a variety of certification systems and approaches involved.

Shortly afterwards comes Fairtrade Fortnight arranged annually by the Fairtrade Foundation, www.fairtrade.org. This runs from 29th February - 13th March, 2016 with its focus on Sit Down For Breakfast, Stand Up For Farmers. Quite a number of our retailers and suppliers get involved with local Fairtrade Towns' events at this time of year, and may well have special offers available to look out for during this period. But, the crème de la crème is our two-day Annual Conference, booked for 15th - 16th May, 2016 at the Create Centre, Bristol. It's the highlight of our year, primarily attended by our own members, but any retailer or supplier interested in fair trade is more than welcome to join us for a small booking fee. The AGM is open to anyone who wants to attend. We have great conference speakers lined up such as Greg Valerio (he worked with The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) and other national Fairtrade organisations from 2010-2014, coordinating their international Fairtrade Gold programme); and Dr Sara Parker, owner of Fair Connections, a community interest company which promotes global awareness in primary schools. Workshops on Fairtrade marks and symbols, and optimum use of social media are on the cards, plus there are plans to host an African dance session on the Sunday night - watch this space!

The conference follows on immediately from World Fair Trade Day on Saturday 14th May, 2016 - the theme of which is Be an Agent for Change, and our own promotional BAFTS' week follows on from that. Look out for updates on all the above on our website and social media sites.

BAFTS is the British Association of Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers, a national member organisation offering advice to, and providing a community for fair trade shops and wholesale suppliers who trade fairly with the developing world. The company currently has just over 140 members and this figure is increasing all the time. For further information, please visit www.bafts.org.uk