Blog: Sainsbury’s rebuff undermines BRC

Catherine Sleep | 21 March 2006

Sainsbury’s gung ho departure from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) could seriously undermine the trade body’s position. The grocer has suspended its membership over the BRC’s lack of support for the food labelling system advocated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The issue raises the thorny question of the BRC’s ability to represent a diverse group of businesses whose managers do not agree on the appropriate response to government initiatives. Such an association always requires a degree of consensus if it is to work for the good of the majority of members, and this consensus can be hard won. Where industry heavyweights are at odds, it can be impossible to achieve.

With market leader Tesco staunchly opposed to the FSA’s recommendations but Sainsbury’s broadly in favour, the BRC finds itself between a rock and a hard place. Its alleged support for Tesco’s views irked Sainsbury’s significantly for the latter group to feel it had no choice but withdraw from a trade body that does not represent its views. If any other major companies follow suit, the BRC’s raison d’être will come into question.

British Retail Consortium


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