After three years, which saw two member votes, an EGM and the resignation of the association's ceo, The British Home Enhancement Trades Association (BHETA) has announced a final resolution to its protracted merger negotiations with the British Jewellery, Giftware and Finishing Federation (BJGF).
The new plan, supported in a unanimous vote by BHETA's board, will see it become a member of a group of associations, along with the constituent associations of the BJGF, including the Giftware Association and the British Jewellers' Association.
The name of the new association was to have been decided by BJGF members at its AGM on June 23. However, a statement release yesterday has confirmed the name is most likely to be the British Allied Trades Federation (BATF).
One of the main obstacles to the original merger proposals was the so-called capitation fee, which at the time was estimated at £1.2m. However, under the new plan, both BHETA's autonomy and assets, including Brooke House and its stake in Exclusively Housewares, will be protected. There will be a one-off joining fee of £20,000 plus an additional £10,000 to cover legal costs.
As the assets are protected the board has decided to proceed with the plan without a member vote, which, it says, would have taken time and a significant amount of money.
Speaking exclusively to DIY Week, BHETA president John Newcomb said: "This is fundamentally and radically different from the original proposal. We're not talking about any dilution of BHETA's assets, and we're not merging - we're joining what will become a new trades federation. The current [BHETA] board is empowered to make a decision on behalf of the membership. As a board we took a decision unanimously that we'd move ahead with this without a member vote. We did not want to waste time and money on what is a completely different issue."
However, the immediate cost savings in other areas should cover the £30,000 costs, said Mr Newcomb, ensuring the association ends the year showing a profit for only the second time in ten years. And, he added, Q1 performance has already been "very healthy", showing a slight, but undisclosed, profit.
BHETA will also have two places on the board of the new federation and a perpetual 12-month exit clause, something Mr Newcomb is confident won't be needed.
The move puts to bed an issue that has caused division and disruption within the association. It's been three years since initial talks began, and almost two since an EGM in which the association failed to gain the votes needed to proceed with the original merger proposal.
These original plans were finally abandoned at the BHETA board meeting some two months ago after failing to gain the unanimous support of the board. So, said Mr Newcomb, the new plans have all come about in the past four to six weeks, after the BJGF put the new proposal on the table: "It was their initiative," he said.
"This is a solution that cuts through all the emotive issues," he told DIY Week. "If you can have a deal that lets us have our cake and eat it too I think this is it."