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Associated Independent Stores, or AIS for short, is the leading home, fashion and leisure buying group in the UK and Ireland. The Group overall has around 250 members with a combined retail turnover of over £1.5 billion. The Group supports independent retailers ranging from single high street shops to flagship department stores and specialist retailers across the UK, Ireland and Channel Islands. Included within the Group are specialist divisions such as Flooring One and Playroom.

AIS enables independent retailers to profit from the level of buying power and services normally enjoyed by big high street chains – yet with no loss of their independence.

Increasing member profitability

The principal objective of AIS is to increase member profitability. Collective buying power means that major suppliers across a wide range of furniture, floor coverings, homewares and fashion merchandise are keen to do business with AIS on some of the best terms available to anyone for the benefit of our members.

But AIS is more than just a buying group. As well as providing members with access to major brands in a wide variety of merchandise categories, the group's in-house team of experienced selectors source exclusive products and develop Own Brands to strengthen the independent retailer’s point of difference in the high street and improve margins.

AIS also gives its members access to key support services such as an efficient central payment facility (CENPAC) and expert advice in areas such as training, personnel, marketing, procurement and information technology.

Efficient, innovative and profitable

AIS exists to improve its members' profitability but the Association itself is non-profit making. Formed over 50 years ago by the merger of two separate buying groups, AIS has grown and evolved with its members and with the fast-changing retail environment. Today’s organisation is efficient, innovative and profitable with a strong sense of mutual advantage for members and suppliers alike. It has diversified its revenue streams to give an even more solid base to its core function as a buying group and has an impressive conference and exhibition centre at its headquarters in Solihull.

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Specialist buying divisions

Flooring One is the specialist carpet and floorcoverings division of AIS. Its aim is to support independent retailers, working in partnership with preferred suppliers.

Toy division Play-room was launched in 2008, offering members beneficial trading terms as well as two import programmes each year, giving members access to hundreds of branded and non-branded toys at high margins.

Committed to the concept of successful independent retailing, AIS constantly champions the benefits of individuality and entrepreneurship which the independent sector offers. One of our key strengths is our people and the focus that they have on members.

In short, AIS is a broad ranging organisation that has unique experience of supporting the independent retailer and it welcomes direct approaches from interested, independently minded, quality retailers and from prospective suppliers who wish to find out more about the organisation.