COUNTER INSURGENT: The role of the TRA and BTHA

This month, Counter Insurgent looks at the recent resignation of Gary Grant and the roles played by the TRA and BTHA.
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The recent resignation of Gary Grant from the TRA is unfortunate and unnecessary. I understand the view of Toymaster and applaud it for speaking up for its members, but to question Grant’s commitment to the TRA and accuse him of a conflict of interest seems, from the outside, a little harsh.

Grant has worked very hard for the good of the industry as a whole and is never afraid to put his head above the parapet. Dream Toys wouldn’t be the media event it is without Grant’s drive and energy. Also, when the shit hits the fan, Grant is there to help calm the waters whenever the papers try to drag something up just as Christmas is coming.

I seem to remember last year that Grant quickly calmed the ‘Hamster-gate’ story when he wasn’t even stocking them. He was always fending the majority of Mattel recall media enquiries and in most cases, the industry as a whole. The media want and demand a quick response. Manufacturers can only now read from a legally-prepared statement and the BTHA doesn’t seem to want to say much, possibly for the same reasons. His resignation is a big blow for the whole industry.

Maybe the whole idea of a retailer association, which is made up of retailers, is outdated and possibly in these days of Monopoly Commission quangos, illegal now anyway. But until the two associations can work together, or the BTHA takes an active role in assisting the smaller retailers with the rules and regs that pour through, the TRA is vital to every indie.

Going back to the sentiments of Toymaster, I fully understand their concerns and they deserve credit for highlighting to their members and the trade the fine line between survival and another empty shop.

When a customer picks a toy up in a supermarket, that small sale of under £5 means nothing to a multi-million pound company, but that small sale of under £5 for an indie is lifeblood. Every year more and more support is given to the national chains.

The public perception is all retailers are rich and don’t have to do much work to enjoy a life of holidays in the sun several weeks a year. Well most of us aren’t rich, and by the time the Government has cleared up the deficit, we will be even less rich. Most small indies do this job because they love the industry, they have passion for what they sell and pride in making kids (hopefully) happy. But there does come a point when you do have to think: ‘Is it worth it?’ The hassle of running a business, the people who think they are entitled to just take what isn’t theirs, the hassle of yet more competition, and lack of support from some suppliers who, while on the crest of the wave, can be as arrogant as they like.

The argument for positive discrimination has raged since Peter Brown first coined it in a speech some years ago. Fairer allocation of stock and with positive discrimination to smaller retailers is vital for their very existence.

A small allocation means nothing to a supermarket, but to an indie is crucial. Stock is going to be tight this year, according to most suppliers, so please look after the indies with some decent allocations instead of just the scraps.

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