British Retail Consortium

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Foodspin badge.png This article is part of the Foodspin project of Spinwatch.

The British Retail Consortium " for safe responsible retailing" is the "lead trade association representing the whole range of retailers, from the large multiples and department stores through to independents, selling a wide selection of products through centre of town, out of town, rural and virtual stores."

Their vision is "To work with our members to create a vibrant and sustainable retail industry for the future."

Their mission statement is "To make life easier for our members by: - Campaigning to promote and defend retailers' interests - Advising retailers of threats and opportunities to their business - Improving the perceptions of retailing in the UK - Offering members a range of services and products which add value to their business"

The Consortium has three main divisions; London, Scotland and Brussels.

Contact Details

British Retail Consortium 2nd Floor 21 Dartmouth St London SW1H 9BP

Tel 020 7854 8900 Fax 020 7854 8901


Board of Directors 2015

Previous Board of Directors

Kevin Hawkins was appointed to as Director General in March 2004. This followed nearly 9 years as Communications Director of Safeway Stores plc. He is a member of the Meat and Livestock Commission, the DTI's Retail Policy Forum, Defra's Food Industry Better Regulation Forum and served a four-year term on the Cabinet Office's Better Regulation Task Force. He is also a member of the Scottish Food and Health Council, the food industry Better Regulation forum, the food industry Sustainable Strategy Group and the Retail Policy Forum. He was awarded an OBE in 2004 for his services to the food industry.

He joined the BRC in 2003 having spent six years in political and corporate communications consulting at EU and international level.

  • Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Consumer Policy - 020 7854 8930. Andrew is a qualified rural surveyor. He joined the BRC in 2005 after eight years as head of policy services with the National Farmers' Union. He is a member of the Organic Action Plan Group.
  • Paul Smith, Director of Retail Services Policy - 020 7854 8955.
  • Gill Cronin, Director of Marketing & Business Information - 020 7854 8970 .
  • Tessa Kelly, Director of Business Administration - 020 7854 8940.
  • John Cormode, Chief Executive, BRC Trading Limited - 020 7854 8985.
  • Sir Geoff Mulcahy is the Chairman of the British Retail Consortium. He became chair in 2006 . Sir Geoff started work in the enginering and oil industry before moving on to work in the suger industry. In 1982 he moved to Kingfisher. He became group Managing Director of Kingfisher in 1984 and retired as Chief Executive in 2002. He is currently chairman of the Javelin Group, a retail consultancy and a non executive director in Instore plc and the Home world.

Their aims and objectives

They have a website containing details of the work they undertake in services to their members such as business information on retail pricing but also in policy work and consultations.One of their policy areas is the food industry.

Influencing Government

The BRC website contains a section entitled Influencing Government.

The organisation claims strong ties with Brussels, Westminster and the three devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They also claim ties with several government departments including ;The Cabinet Office,Department for Culture, Media and Sport,Department of Health, HSE,Defra,Department of Education & Skills,Department of International Development, Department of Transport,Department of Trade & Industry,Department of Work & Pension,Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Food Standards Agency, HM Revenue & Customs, HM Treasury,the Home Office.

The Influencing Government section contains links to each Government departments and lists the BRCs policy work with that particular department. These policy areas include; the Alcohol Harm Strategy, Animal By-products, Dairy Industry Forum, Ethical Trading, Food Chain Communication, the Food and Health Action Plan, the Food Industry Sustainability Study, Nutrition and Health, Promotion of Food to children, Red Meat Industry Forum, Retail Policy Forum and Tax on Spirits.

Food Policy

Their website states that "British consumers have access to an unparalleled range of safe food, all year round and at all price points, regardless of where they live.

The BRC's Food Policy Team represents the whole range of food and drink retailers including large multiples, department stores and independent shops, selling a wide selection of products through centre of town, out of town, rural and virtual stores.

In 2004, food retailers employed some 1.2 million people (over 5% of the workforce) and grocery retail sales were worth £120 billion. The sector consists of over 61,000 enterprises, contributing 10% to national GDP.

Food retailers believe that the interests of consumers are best protected within a competitive food chain. The Food Policy Team provides information, advice and representation to the BRC's members on issues relating to food and drink. This includes liaison with Government Departments and Agencies and other stakeholders in the modern British food economy. The Team also has responsibility for the BRC's Technical Standards in Food, Consumer Products and Packaging." [2]

Within their food policy the BRC identify several areas of interest; Regulation and Enforcement, Allergens, Food and Farming,Food Surveillance, Health and Nutrition,Healthy Options, Labelling,Microbiology, Product Recall and Traceability, Responsible Drinks Retailing, and Sustainability.


Alcohol badge.jpg This article is part of the Spinwatch public health oriented Alcohol Portal project.

The BRC has vociferously defended supermarkets against the accusation that price cutting has fuelled binge drinking. Their press statements are keen to stress their responsibility in the retailing of alcohol. They state that "Supermarkets sell alcohol as part of a wider grocery offer, alcohol sales make up less than 10% of turnover in a typical store. Supermarkets are not the typical store for those consuming alcohol immediately. Only around 1% of all transactions are of only alcohol and alcohol sales are not aimed immediate consumption, for example drinks are not generally chilled. Promotions are not encouraging excessive consumption, simply offering value for customers alongside the other groceries they buy. Promotional activity tends to be on larger volume purchases which are typically consumed with friends and family at parties and barbecues or over an extended period of time." [3]

Dietary Salt

The BRC has responded to the Food Standards Agency's recommendation to reduce salt by producing its own framework. The framework includes: "a commitment to a minimising salt programme that aims to reduce salt in 9 (own brand) processed food groups. The framework anticipates reductions of up to 25%. These none food groups are Soups, pizzas, ready meals, quiches, baked beans, sandwiches, cook-in sauces, bread and breakfast cereals."

However the framework is set in relation to ‘serving size ’ as opposed to the entire product. The BRC justify this by stating that ‘If nutritional information was only given for the product as a whole, we would for example know exactly how much fat was in a whole quiche or how much salt in a box of cereal, but in reality we never eat a whole quiche or whole box of cereal in one serving. Therefore, nutritional information on the packaging of a product is usually presented on a ‘per serving' basis. This makes it easier to work out how much fat, sugar salt etc. we are consuming and also encourages people to consider their nutritional intake on a 'whole diet' basis. The ‘serving size' within the salt framework works in the same way. Serving sizes will vary slightly amongst individual retailers and also depend on the type of product and its size/weight.’

The BRC states that “food needs salt for food safety and maintaining shelf life. In many cases, salt is added to enhance flavour. safety and maintaining shelf life are vital and therefore products containing cured meat, for example, will contain more salt. Ready meals such as oriental-style dishes contain, by their nature, more salt.”

The BRC framework also contains references to ‘ upper limits’. By this they mean the maximum amount of salt that a product may contain once a recipe is developed or reformulated. They state that they anticipate that many foods will contain considerably less but there admit that there will be ‘variation’ amongst retailers. They also state that while the upper level for ready meals may seem high, these ‘ take into account oriental style meals, some of which, by their nature, contain more salt.’and ‘ Similarly, the upper level for sandwiches takes into account the serving size for triple packs.’They go on to state however that ‘ Where as we have to take many factors into account, again, we anticipate that many foods will contain considerably less that the upper level.’[4]

Regulation and Enforcement

The BRC believes that "The most effective way of raising standards in food business is to encourage a more targeted approach to the enforcement of existing legislation." [5] The BRC also supports the Government's drive to achieve ‘Better Policy Making' and believes "this is best achieved through use of the better policy-making framework, and the five principles of good regulation." [5]


Lobbying firms


  1. BRC directors British Retail Consortium, accessed 17 April 2015
  2. Policies & Issues British Retail Consortium
  3. [1] British Retail Consortium
  4. Retail Myths British Retail Consortium
  5. 5.0 5.1 Regulation and Enforcement British Retail Consortium
  6. Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 28 January 2015