UK co-operative group of independent hardware, DIY and garden retailers – Mica – is proposing to merge with the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), the UK’s largest independent trade retailer association.
Mica has 50-plus hardware, DIY and garden member stores across the UK with members working together to market their businesses, buy together at group terms, share retail support and digital development.
The proposal, if ratified by Mica members at an EGM on 13 August will see Bira invest in the group, becoming a major shareholder and the co-operative will join the association as a new division.
The agreement will, if approved, allow the two businesses to work closely together to seek new members, and give existing Mica members access to a wider range of support services Bira provides.
“While we had an excellent year in 2018 achieving growth and great returns to the membership, these remain challenging times for the high street,” said Michael Ball, Mica CEO. “Our members understand the strength of working together, and in Bira we have a partner organisation with the same vision – to ensure the high street continues to thrive in the long term.”
Chairman of Mica, Mr. David Morris of Morris Mica Hardware, Alcester added: “The proposal put forward has the full support of the Mica Board, which is made up of retailers from across the UK.
“Joining forces with Bira offers us the opportunity to further develop one of the main reasons I joined Mica in the first place, greater strength in numbers by independent retailers working together.”
Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO commented: “This is an exciting time for Bira and Mica employees, members and suppliers, as this new partnership, if approved, will further increase our influence in the corridors of Westminster.
“Mica also bring a new skillset, 20 years of consumer marketing experience to the table, and through the combined group we will have the largest Hardware & DIY buying group available for independent store owners. We expect both Bira and Mica members to benefit from wider access to more suppliers and preferential rates, more good news for taking the fight to the retail giants.”
There will be no changes affecting the general public, as Mica works on behalf of its retailer members not directly with customers. For suppliers there will be total continuity as Mica DIY Ltd will continue as a separate limited company within the Bira group if the proposal is ratified. After a transition period Mica will relocate to new offices in Birmingham.
Michael Ball continued: “Mica’s continued co-operative status within Bira will ensure the group retains its identity and heritage, it’s a real win-win for members, suppliers and consumers.”
Consolidation among trade associations appears to be something of a mini-trend, both among retailer and supplier groups; The start of this year saw the Federation of British Hand Tool Manufacturers (FBHTM) join BHETA (the British Home Enhancement Trade Association). BHETA told Torque Magazine that the associations believe collaboration is key for growth.