BHETA to consult again on knife sales

Following the latest moves from the multiple retail sector to limit the sale of kitchen knives, The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) will again canvas member opinion on the selling and marketing of these items.

On March 8 the supermarket chain Asda announced it will remove single kitchen knives from sale in all its stores by the end of April – and last September, discount chain Poundland said it would completely remove kitchen knives from all of its 755 stores by the end of October 2018 – and called on fellow retailers to follow its lead.

BHETA housewares sector director Will Jones said: “In light of Asda announcing its intention to remove single kitchen knives from sale and Poundland’s decision to step into the fray encouraging retailers to limit the availability of knives in High Street stores, a debate that has been going on for two years or more has now escalated to a point where it impacts directly on BHETA members’ sales.”

BHETA is inviting members who are affected or potentially affected, either by legislation or industry opinion, to a discussion group at its Federation House headquarters in central Birmingham on March 25.

Will said the aim of the meeting is “to formulate a considered plan of action through which the industry can both address the very real and complex issues with constructive new thinking on, for example, knife design – and continue to represent member interests fairly.”

BHETA executive chairman Andrew Weiss added: “There are some four hundred million kitchen knives in existing domestic circulation according to CATRA (Cutlery and Allied Trades Research Association). So this is not an issue that any one part of the industry can effectively address alone. It is vital that all interested parties work together to find real, long term solutions which help to address the issues while supporting the responsible selling of cutlery and kitchen knives.”

BHETA said 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’. It plans to continue lobbying on the issue in a joint initiative with the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), originally activated following publication of the Offensive Weapons Bill.

In 2017, BHETA carried out a confidential survey of member opinion on the Government’s proposed legislative changes to gauge affected members’ views and to understand the potential impact that any changes might have on their businesses – in particular, the Bill’s intention to make it an offence to deliver bladed products to residential premises.

BHETA said the response from members was mixed, with some very concerned at the potential impact on commercial activity but others, while recognising the inevitability of new measures to address the issue of rising knife crime, saying that restricting the sale of knives online might encourage customers back into store.

Will continued: “This is clearly an important and emotive issue from many points of view. Some of our members have started their own representations to local MPs, including a formal petition on the subject, and BHETA has circulated details of these initiatives to the membership.

“BHETA has also represented the majority view from the member survey, raising concerns initially with the then Home Secretary and subsequently with the Minister for Crime. In addition, and in conjunction with Bira, BHETA attended Legal and Parliamentary affairs meetings to put across the potential impact that these changes would have on members. Following our latest consultation, we will continue to represent member views in conjunction with those of all the other interested parties.”

For more information about BHETA and BHETA lobbying, contact the Member Services Team on 0121 237 1130 or visit the BHETA website


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