29th June, 2015.

Geoff Charley, the founder of Townfields Saddlers, died last Sunday (21 June). He was 75 and had been ill for some time.

Alongside his family, Geoff ran a successful retail operation for more than half a century.

With a store near Coventry, Townfields Saddlers has become perhaps the best-known tradestand name on the UK show circuit.

Geoff had been involved with gymkhanas and show jumping from a young age. He also enjoyed hunting, team chasing and point to pointing. He qualified for the Horse of the Year Show working hunter championships on several occasions.

Having set up a riding school, Geoff started selling second-hand saddles. The venture led to him and his wife Gill setting up what’s remained a family owned and run business, Townfields Saddlers.

Geoff could be found on his tradestand exhibiting at most of the big horse shows and events. Indeed, he had been a pioneering trader at several of them.

As well as equestrian customers, Townfields also served the shooting community at fixtures such as the CLA Game Fair.

Badminton horse trials director Hugh Thomas was among those to paying tribute.

"Geoff will be sadly missed by all the show organisers,” he said. “He was a real character who contributed hugely to the atmosphere in a successful tradestand village."

Geoff leaves his wife Gill, their children Adrian and Sarah, Adrian’s wife Julie and four grandchildren Ben, William, Tom and Harry.

Sarah said of her father: “He built Townfields to what it is today because he loved horse sports and adored working alongside his family. In fact, spending time with family, especially his grandchildren, was one of his great loves, alongside fishing and shooting and being part of the equestrian fraternity.”

• A private family funeral takes place on Tuesday 7 July at Moreton Morrell Church. Following this, a service to celebrate Geoff’s life will be held at 3pm at Walton Hall Hotel & Spa, Walton, Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, CV35 9HU followed by afternoon tea. The family requests family flowers only. Those who would like to make a donation in memory of Geoff can do so to the British Heart Foundation c/o A. Pargetter & Sons Funeral Directors, City Mews, Lamb Street, Coventry, CV1 4AE. Telephone 024 7622 3343.


29th June, 2015.

Suitably qualified persons (SQPs) and vets can boost their CPD points via a series of webinars by Norbrook.

Of particular interest to equine SQPs is a webinar entitled Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, What you need to know.

Taking place on 14 July from 8pm, it’s presented by Emily Haggett, BVSc DACVIM MRCVS. Emily is an equine internal medicine specialist from Rossdale & Partners.

Participation in the webinars is free. To take part, sign up in advance at

• ETN’s next SQP CPD feature will be published in the September issue.


25th June, 2015.

Show trader and ETN diarist Guy Roper reports from a surprisingly busy Bramham horse trials.

Having just about dried out after a damp ‘Brammers’, I’m pleased to say that there was the usual buzz about this popular Yorkshire event - despite the weather.

That buzz was one reason why the ‘Gatcombe of the north’ won out for me over the Royal Three Counties show at Malvern. Same dates but the latter is a bit of an unknown quantity to yours truly.

In deciding where to put the pitch - or which pitch to put – it’s sometimes a balancing act between experience and anecdote.

Last year’s attendance figures - if you can get them and if you can trust them - can help in evaluating a new venue. But going with what you know helps control risk.

Besides which, the Bramham team always make you feel welcome; and the quality of the event they deliver never fails to draw in the crowds time after time.

Above all, they ‘get it’. Brammers host Nick Lane Fox again paid tribute to the importance of the shopping offer in the event's success while we tucked into the bacon butties at the BETA tradestand holders’ breakfast.

Yorkshire folk do like a bargain. But trading was brisk and - despite Sunday morning's rain keeping the day's numbers down by a broad margin - it was a worthwhile trip.

The business was there to be had; but I'm always aware that the passing punter’s discretionary purchase makes the difference between this year’s holiday being Morecambe or the Maldives.

It was notable that the chums who did well were the ones that went the extra mile, either in presentation or in pricing.

That's why I couldn't quite believe one stand which had a lot of stock labelled ‘Badminton Show Offer’. OK, I know that events blur into each other a bit after a few weeks on the road, but Badders was a month and many miles ago. Come on chaps, make the effort!

Even more astonishing was another label that happily proclaimed ‘RRP £65 Show Special £65’. Interestingly, this stand seemed to have quite a lot of stock left at breakdown, despite a prominent position.

The customer isn't always right, but they're not often stupid…




23rd June, 2015.

Online reviews are read by more than half of consumers before making a purchase.

But can they always believe what they’re reading? Not necessarily, according to a new report published yesterday by a Government watchdog.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has expressed concern about potentially misleading practices including:

• fake reviews being posted onto review sites
• negative reviews not being published
• businesses paying for endorsements in blogs and other online articles without this being made clear to consumers
• The CMA is already investigating a number of unnamed companies over alleged non-disclosure of paid endorsements.

“Consumers who use online reviews and endorsements find them valuable, but we have also heard about some practices that may be unlawful,” said Nisha Arora, of the CMA.

“We are committed to ensuring that consumers’ trust in these important information tools is maintained, and will take enforcement action where necessary to tackle unlawful practices.

“We have opened an investigation into businesses that may be paying for endorsements in blogs and other online articles where the payment may not have been made clear to readers.”

Information for businesses telling them how to stay within the law can be found at


22nd June, 2015.

A shortage of warehousing in the UK could force up rents by as much as 10% by the end of next year.

Online retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers planning to expand should look at bigger premises early, property experts are warning.

With less than a 10-month supply currently available of buildings that total over 100,000 square feet, a knock-on effect to smaller units is likely.

Steven Mitchell, of Colliers International, warned that in some areas – such as the south-east – rents could increase by between 5% and 10%.


17th June, 2015.

Next Friday (26 June) is Take Your Dog To Work Day.

Businesses are encouraged to participate in the event which raises money for the canine rehoming charity All Dogs Matter.

The idea is that workplaces that don’t usually permit dogs welcome them in for the day.

Last year, ITV This Morning presenters Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford were among the celebrities taking their dogs to work.

In the equestrian trade, Jeff - office junior at MirrorMe PR, will be among the dogs clocking on for the day. His duties will involve sausages and squeaky toys, said company boss Ashley Rossiter.

Fund raising is not compulsory to take part, but if you wish to find out more, visit

If you take your dog to work on Friday, 26 June, ETN would like to hear more. Please email with your name, company and doggy details. You never know, your dog’s day at work may even make ETN’s pages!


17th June, 2015.

BETA’s sponsorship of last weekend’s CIC 3* at Bramham International Horse Trials was a thoroughly Yorkshire affair.

Run on the trade association’s home turf, the competition was won by local rider Nicola Wilson with Annie Clover.

Bramham put BETA’s work in front of consumers and raised the profile of rider safety.

It offered free riding hat and body protector checks and supported the Pony Club Team Show Jumping for the first time, presenting competitors with BETA stable plaques and goody bags.

BETA hosted its popular tradestand holders’ breakfast, where the winners of its Best Stand Awards were announced.

Best Large Stand was French saddlery company Voltaire Design, with Friendship Estates runner-up. North Yorkshire-based Sue Barratt Creative Equine Photography claimed the Best Small Stand award with fruit gin and vodka maker Raisthorpe Manor as runner-up.

“This year’s horse trials proved another highly successful outing for BETA,” said its executive director, Claire Williams.

“We were able to show people what the association can do for them, answer their queries and find out what they were up to with their horses, which is always extremely helpful.”

Throughout the four days, BETA attracted hundreds of entries for its luxury prize draw for £1,500 worth of equestrian gear supplied by BETA members, signed up consumers to its National Equestrian Research Panel and handed out goody bags and BETA doggy bandanas in return for donations to the RDA.


17th June, 2015.

Yorkshire horsewoman Alison Harris as received the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

She has been recognised for services to the British Horse Society and equestrian sport in Yorkshire.

Alison, a successful endurance rider who was closely involved with the Endurance Horse & Pony Society (EHPS), continues to support Riding for the Disabled too.

She lives near Harrogate.


16th June, 2015.

Decathlon opens a new store in Wandsworth, London on Friday (19 June).

The French founded retail giant, which has more than 850 stores in over 20 countries, offers equestrian lines among the myriad of sports goods it sells.

The new store opening was promoted via a Facebook game. Participants were invited to find products to be in with a chance of winning £250 every week.


15th June, 2015.

Tougher measures to protect broadband users are to be introduced by industry watchdog Ofcom.

Under a strengthened code of practice on broadband speeds, customers will be able to exit a contract should speeds fall below acceptable levels.

The move should benefit rural businesses for whom slow broadband speeds are a commercial handicap.

Ofcom is also promising to make switching broadband mobile and landline providers easier.

A Federation of Small Businesses poll shows that nearly half (49%) of rural small businesses are dissatisfied with their broadband service.


12th June, 2015.

Joules has secured £11 million of bank funding from Barclays to expand across Europe and North America.

E-commerce provides almost 25% of the label’s total sales with wholesaling a further 28%. Joules has 99 stores across the UK.

Barclays says it has now facilitated the business up to £26 million.


10th June, 2015.

An online retailer has been told to do better at taking information from consumers before prescribing and supplying animal medicines.

Edinburgh based is the subject of an improvement notice from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), a government agency.

Internet sales of veterinary medicines via and the marketplace were not prescribed or supplied in accordance with the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013, says the VMD.

The improvement required is for all orders of POM-VPS and NFA-VPS products to obtain sufficient information to allow proper prescribing/supplying. In addition, all supplies must be individually authorised.

The retailer was also told to update internet site questions on all VPS products with SOPs [standard operating procedures] put in place for prescribing and supplying.

• Veterinary medicines classified as POM-VPS may be prescribed by any Registered Qualified Person (RQP) ie a vet, pharmacist or SQP (Suitably Qualified Person). A clinical assessment of the animal(s) is not required and the animal does not have to be seen by the prescriber. However sufficient information about the animal and the way it is kept must be known to the prescriber.

• Veterinary medicines classified as NFA-VPS may be supplied by an RQP provided the requirements for supply are met. These medicines do not require a prescription.

• This story appears in the June issue of ETN.


9th June, 2015.

People who work in the feed industry, retailers selling feed and supplements and academics interested in equine nutrition will find food for thought at this month’s BETA Feed Conference.

The annual event, at Whittlebury Hall, near Towcester, Northamptonshire on Thursday 25 June, features influential speakers discussing NOPS (naturally occurring prohibited substances) plus new developments in feed and legislation.

The BETA Feed Conference is also a popular event for networking with others in the sector.

Attending the one-day conference – including lunch and refreshments – costs £85 for BETA members and £120 for non-members.

Tickets are available via the BETA office tel 01937 587062.


5th June, 2015.

American brand Noble Outfitters will be rooting for the Brits this eventing season.

The label’s sponsored rider Sophie Beaty was named today as part of the GB squad for the European Young Rider Championships in Poland in August.

Sophie (19) caught the selectors’ eyes following some good form with Stanly, a 16 year old bay gelding she owns jointly with Alison Booth.

She does more than simply lend her name to Noble Outfitters too. Sophie also models the collection, which has involved galloping on the beach as well as more conventional posing.

Noble Outfitters launches its equestrian clothing collection to consumers this autumn. See the July issue of ETN for more detail and pictures.


5th June, 2015.

Pets at Home plans to open around 25 extra stores across the UK over the next 12 months.

The pet specialist, which owns Yorkshire based retailer Ride-away, has reported year on year revenue up by 8% to £666 million.

Offering add-on services such as grooming and veterinary care are said to have contributed to increased earnings.

The retailer currently has 400 stores and says its aiming for 500.

Ride-away is sponsoring a new series of Express Eventing under a three-year deal. The compact version of evening takes place at Bolesworth International later this month, and at the CLA Game Fair at Harewood House, Yorkshire, at the end of July.

• Shares in animal care firm Pets at Home fell by 3% on Tuesday (9 June) after its biggest shareholder sold almost half of its stake for £288 million, Pet Trade Xtra reports.

US buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) sold 108 million shares, or 21.6% of the business, at 267p a share leaving it with a 24.6% holding.

KKR bought Pets at Home from private equity rival Bridgepoint in 2010 for £995m.

The pet care and products retailer floated on the London market in March last year at 245p a share, valuing it at £1.2bn.


3rd June, 2015.

Visitors to next week’s Bramham horse trials who call at the BETA stand could win a luxury hamper of goodies for horse and rider.

The star prize in a free-to-enter draw on the trade association’s stand features equipment donated by BETA member companies.

BETA (the British Equestrian Trade Association) sponsors the CIC 3* class at the Yorkshire event on 11 to 14 June.

In a northern version of BETA’s support for the Festival of British Eventing, the Bramham sponsorship enables BETA to tell consumers more about its work.

There will also be BETA best stand awards and a BETA tradestand holders’ breakfast.

For the first time, BETA is sponsoring the Pony Club Team Show Jumping at Bramham too. Every competitor will receive a BETA plaque to commemorate their participation.

Rider safety and why it’s good to shop where they see the BETA sign are other key messages BETA will deliver to the thousands of Bramham visitors.


2nd June, 2015.

Sales staff who scored highly in animal health examinations picked up prizes at the NOAH (National Office of Animal Health) annual dinner in London last month.

The top award of £100 went to overall winner Rowena Rogers, equine territory manager for MSD Animal Health.

Rowena gained the highest score in the NOAH Certificate of Animal Health (NCAH) examination taken in July 2014.

“Although I approached [my job] with a lot of equine industry knowledge, and continue to receive technical training from my company, studying for the NCAH qualification provided a welcome opportunity to refresh my knowledge base and gain additional knowledge,” she said.

Second overall winner was Sian Griffith also from MSD. Joint third overall winners were Emma Worthington, now with Bimeda, and Sarah Abraham from Elanco.

Of four NCAH examinations during 2014, Thomas Sutton from Ceva was top student in the January 2014 examination, with Sarah Ward, also from Ceva, in second place.

From the April 2014 examination, Sian Griffith from MSD came top with Emma Worthington, now with Bimeda, in second place.

Rowena Rogers was top student in the July exam followed by Manjinder Singh Phagurey in second.

And in the September examination, Sarah Abraham was top with Thomas Sample, now with Carrs Billington, in second place.

The NOAH Certificate of Animal Health (NCAH) is designed to give sales staff in the animal health industry a thorough grounding in animal physiology, animal disease and treatment options. It also covers the legal framework in which medicines are regulated, advertised and sold.

The qualification is academically accredited by Harper Adams University which hosts the training courses and examinations.


1st June, 2015.

Nominations have opened for the 2015 Virbac Equine SQP of the Year Award.

The accolade is designed to recognise and reward the UK’s outstanding equine suitably qualified person (E-SQP).

Previous winners have been acclaimed for giving excellent advice on worming and top class customer service.

Retailers are encouraged to nominate any E-SQP they believe is deserving of the award by 31 July.

The Virbac Equine SQP of the Year award recognises SQPs’ dedication to being animal health professionals. Virbac is the company behind Equimax and Eraquell wormer brands.

The winning SQP and guest will enjoy a VIP hospitality evening at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) with overnight accommodation at the Genting Hotel.

Other prizes include £500 of Virbac 3D Worming branded clothing, dual embroidered with the winner’s company logo/name; plus a keepsake trophy and certificate.

Nominations for the Virbac Equine SQP of the Year can be submitted at The winning nominator will receive a pair of Saturday night HOYS ringside tickets.

• ETN runs regular AMTRA accredited CPD features and quizzes to help SQPs maintain their qualifications.