The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA)’s consultative meeting with UK kitchen knife suppliers on March 25 reached a consensus to back a proactive industry-wide ‘responsible retailing’ campaign.
Leading kitchen knife suppliers including Taylor’s Eye Witness, Amefa, Fiskars, George East (housewares), Kuhn Rikon and Robert Welch Designs met BHETA housewares sector director Will Jones and BHETA executive chairman Andrew Weiss to agree ‘a positive way forward in the light of announcements from Asda indicating a plan to stop selling single kitchen knives and small knife sets, and Poundland abandoning sales of knives altogether’.
BHETA said the meeting coincided with ‘a breakthrough’ in the manufacturer lobbying spearheaded by Taylor’s Eye Witness joint managing director Alastair Fisher and others, which saw an amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill passed in The Commons in line with the industry’s stand on the matter.
The trade association explained: ‘In effect, action by Sheffield MPs Paul Blomfield and Clive Betts has meant that the Bill, which originally proposed a blanket ban on the delivery of bladed items to residential addresses, now allows delivery to domestic addresses under certain restrictions. This means that responsible firms who have adequate age verifications in place to prove that the buyer is over 18 and use an over 18 delivery service, should not be liable to punishment under the new law.’
The meeting discussed a range of further actions including merchandising, packaging and point of sale innovations; retailer liaison; continued political lobbying; consumer education and product development.
BHETA said it was agreed that a collective plan of action would be co-ordinated by BHETA aimed at promoting and ensuring best practice concerning the sale of knives through all the channels in UK retail.
Will Jones commented: “In light of Asda announcing its intention to remove single kitchen knives from sale, BHETA consulted with its kitchen knife supplier membership to share updates on lobbying to date; conversations with other leading retailers; product, packaging and presentation plans; and proposals.
“At the meeting, several communications principles were unanimously agreed and BHETA is now pulling together plans for a combined stance on both retailing and communications. Our initial action in support of best practice will be BHETA writing to all major retailers to ask for their support and engagement moving forward.
“Knife crime is obviously a very serious and complex issue and it is vital that we play our part – not only in addressing it, but equally in ensuring the industry avoids knee-jerk reactions which do not necessarily accord with the findings of the relevant advisory, enforcement and legislative bodies concerned.
“It was heartening to see key companies from the BHETA membership affected by the issues coming together to discuss the not only the implications, but also the options for proactive contribution to the debate. We now have consensus for a plan of action which not only represents our members interests, but also looks at what suppliers and retailers can do to co-operate with all the other stakeholders in this very important debate.”
Andrew Weiss added: “With some four hundred million kitchen knives in domestic circulation [source: CATRA] , this is not an issue that any one part of the industry can address alone. It is vital that all interested parties work together to find solutions, while supporting the responsible selling of kitchen knives, which are essential tools in healthy cooking and eating trends.”
BHETA noted that it has been in dialogue with members for more than two years on how suppliers and retailers can ‘contribute constructively to this increasingly political debate’.