BHETA row: ‘A housewares association would save members money’

While BHETA has failed to cut costs and has run at a loss, a new housewares association would be profitable and pass on financial savings to members immediately.
So says CAT Enterprises managing director Charles Harrison in a document sent this week to all housewares members of the British Home Enhancement Trade Association.

The association has called an extraordinary general meeting for July 23 following unease amongst some members about its imminent merger with the British Jewellery, Giftware & Finishing Federation. Harrison wants to see the merger called off and a new housewares association created instead.

In his document, called The Case for a Housewares Association, Harrison says BHETA’s latest accounts show that it made an operating loss of £78,000, and adds that the association’s assurances of financial savings following a merger are “vague assertions”.

On the other hand, he says: “The new housewares association would start with a strong asset base, be able to operate profitably, give immediate financial benefits to members and above all focus solely on the housewares industry.”

Harrison promises a reduction on BHETA membership from £550 to £350, a 10% reduction in the cost of exhibiting at Exclusively Housewares and reduced costs for exhibiting at Ambiente in Frankfurt.

In addition, he says the association would have a state-of-the-art website to give members instant access to essential information, and provide additional benefits.

Harrison has also produced a separate document outlining his opposition to the merger, in which he accuses BHETA and the BJGF of a lack of transparency about the new “super federation”.

“The debate is whether the terms of the merger as shown in the formal Heads of Agreement deliver what the board obtained approval from the members for and whether this is the best way forward for BHETA,” he says in the document. “To date the board has refused to release a copy of the formal Heads of Agreement but given the commitment to ‘openness and transparency’ this should be a prerequisite for any reasoned debate.”

Harrison also points out the financial implications to BHETA when linking with BJGF. “On joining BJGF as a federated association BHETA will be required to pay to the BJGF capitation charges. Capitation is a process whereby new members joining an organisation make a payment equal to the value of the existing members’ share of the organisation’s assets,” he explains.

“Based on the latest figures available in BJGF published accounts these charges will be in excess of £1,500,000. This money will be lost to BHETA and belong to the BJGF. The Board of the BJGF (of which one in 14 directors is appointed by BHETA) will determine how or if the money is used.”

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