Two of the leading independent retail associations, the British Hardware Federation Group and British Shops and Stores Association, are to merge next year.
The organisations say the move will provide financial benefits as well as create a more influential body.
“This is a bold move, and one that makes absolute business sense, particularly in the current economic climate,” commented Alan Hawkins, group managing director of BHF Group. “It will lead to some significant savings in overheads and to greater efficiencies.
“This is no time to stand alone, when the opportunities of a merger ensure not only our long-term survival but, far more importantly, enhance the service we can provide to members well into the future.”
John Dean, CEO of BSSA, said that the merger would “create a powerful voice for over 8,000 independent retailers and provide the opportunity to leverage further economies of scale, giving members even better value for money. It’s a perfect fit between two very similar and strong trade associations.
“It will be very much business as usual, with members noticing no difference in their day-to-day dealings. However, it will result in synergies in both our combined ability to negotiate better deals for members, and our unified voice will undoubtedly carry more influence”.
BHF Group members will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed merger at the AGM in spring 2009, and the organisations would hope to complete the merger no later than the end of 2009.
The new group will have a combined balance sheet of in excess of £8m and will own its own bank and insurance brokerage. Particular benefits will follow in the areas of card transactions, training and central buying. The two associations are likely to maintain their current head offices.