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The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the leading U.K. retail trade association, have joined forces with the aim of creating a meaningful global manufacturing standard for consumer goods. According to RILA, the partnership advances the retail industry's goal of complementing existing product safety requirements by addressing safety protocols for manufacturer and supplier operations.
The collaboration comes as federal legislation passed last year goes into effect this month. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) requires retailers to sell only products meeting safety standards and obtain certificates of conformity for each batch of imported products. The BRC/RILA standard will help retailers comply with the new law by establishing a certifiable worldwide measure by which manufacturing operations are set.
"The retail industry is committed to ensuring the products that enter their supply chain are designed and manufactured to ensure the utmost safety," said RILA President Sandy Kennedy. "A meaningful and attainable global standard for consumer goods will strengthen existing protocols and establish a new bar by which manufacturing operations
will be measured."
In 1998 the BRC devised a technical standard for retailers to use with food suppliers and manufacturers. Currently, the majority of U.K. and many European and global retailers will only consider dealing with food suppliers that have been certified under a globally certified standard such as the BRC Global Standard. The BRC has since gone on to establish industry standards for operations involving packaging, storage and distribution and consumer products.
"The complex nature of supply chains for consumer products means that, to be fully effective, the Consumer Product Standard needs the backing of a critical mass of retailers," said Dr. Geoff Spriegel, director of BRC Global Standards. "The support of the U.S. retailers provides a major boost to the development of the consumer product scheme, which could eventually exceed the uptake of the highly successful Food Standard."
The use of the BRC Global Food Standard beyond the United Kingdom has led this standard to evolve into a Global Standard employed not just to assess retailer suppliers, but also as a framework upon which many companies have based their supplier assessment programs. Each of these standards is regularly reviewed and fully revised and updated every three years.
"Tesco's reputation depends on the quality and safety of the things we sell," observed Liz Kynoch, group technical & trading law director, Tesco plc and chair of the BRC Global Standards Governance and Strategy Committee. "Over the last 10 years the BRC Global Standards have significantly aided the development of more effective product safety systems by suppliers. The standards help retailers adopt a consistent approach to the management of their supply base, form a major component of a retailer's risk assessment of their suppliers and assist retailers to meet their legal obligations. The certification of over 14,000 suppliers around the world is a clear indication of their value."
RILA said that BRC Global Standards certification is an effective and cost-efficient way for retailers to engender confidence in products, reduces the burden of multiple audits for suppliers and will ultimately improve the safety of consumer products. Registration of their certification in the BRC database allows suppliers to promote their technical credentials to potential new customers, the association added.
The partnership was formally approved Jan. 25 by RILA's board of directors.