Pushing the UK trade forward

A strong industry body is vital for every sector and nowhere more so than fishing. With a new board and a number of key plans in the pipeline, the UK’s Angling Trades Association is once again ready to protect our interests, as chairman Andrew Race explains…


TTW: Some trade bodies are stronger than others and things tend to go in cycles, so where was the Angling Trades Association when you came in as chairman two years or so ago?

Andrew Race: If I’m honest, the ATA was existing but not pushing forward with new ideas and our initiatives and industry goals were not clearly defined. There were too many competing industry brands and no close relationship between industry stakeholders. Also, when I started in April 2020, Covid was keeping us confined, so the first job was to get people fishing again.


TTW: You quickly established an executive work group alongside vice-chairman Michael Heylin and initiated regular meetings with members and the board. What key things have changed?

AR: Well, for a start, the ATA now has a brand new set of web platforms to promote our key industry initiatives such as take A Friend Fishing (TAFF) and National Fishing Month (NFM). We have also worked hard to establish closer ties with the significant industry stakeholders. Those platforms are also helping us to gather real-time data to understand where more investment is needed.

The ATA now has a structured approach to industry investment and the assets to attract new members. Those assets are designed to provide benefits to members both for brand promotion and for increased business in the long term.


TTW: You mentioned initiatives like Take A Friend Fishing and National Fishing Month – both designed to get more people top pick up a rod. How have you strengthened these?

AR: NFM and TAFF are now both recognised by the main industry stakeholders as the key brands for long term recruitment and engagement with anglers and non-anglers alike.

Both initiatives have seen real growth since 2020 and, with investment in new platforms and a wider remit, we should see that impact magnified across all social sectors.


TTW: It’s fair to say that the ATA has never had a huge membership within the trade. How are you going to build those membership numbers?

AR: Now that ATA has restructured its key assets, it has something to market to the wider trade. These assets offer both exclusive brand promotion and real-time investment in the industry that will promote growth in sales to members.

We are also developing our wider business benefits package for members that includes government updates and financial services amongst others, plus a monthly newsletter.


TTW: In this day and age, how important do you feel an industry body like the ATA really is?

AR: Individual businesses can invest in their own plans but the external factors that affect their ability to grow, like political, environmental and socio-economic forces, have to be challenged by a bigger organisation that understands market forces that affect the industry.

And that is where we come in. We are much stronger if we all work together.


TTW: So what else can the industry do to support you?

AR: First and foremost, become a member. The ATA will continue to invest time and money into long-term growth, industry standards, codes of practice and career pathways in the tackle industry. This will hopefully provide the industry with stable growth and the next generation of employees that angling needs to succeed.

We are also widening our remit further.

From a public perspective, alongside TAFF and NFM, we are working closely with the organisers of The Game Fair, the huge countryside festival here in the UK each summer towards an amazing event next year.

At the same we are working hard on our international connections with discussions around reciprocal agreements with the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA).