DEATH ANNOUNCED OF RIDER SAFETY CAMPAIGNER


29th May, 2018.

Jane Davies passed away last weekend.

Jane Davies, co-founder of the Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund (MDIRF), died peacefully on Saturday (26 May).

Mrs Davies and her late husband Michael founded the charity following their son Mark’s fatal fall at Burghley horse trials in 1988.

“Jane was an incredibly brave woman and in the midst of her own grief at the loss of Mark she was thinking of injured riders and how they could be supported,” said a statement from the MDIRF.

“Jane’s legacy will continue to live on with the MDIRF and the work that we do. Jane will be forever remembered for her strong character and sharp wit.”

As well as assisting injured riders and their families, the charity Mrs Davies set up has campaigned for improved safety standards, alterations to ‘table’ fences and the development of the frangible pin on cross country courses.

Donations in Jane Davies’ memory can be made at https://mdirf.co.uk/donate


SALES REPRESENTATIVE JOINS FEED COMPANY


29th May, 2018.

The recently appointed rep will be visiting retailers and wholesalers in the south of England.

Mark Westaway and Son, home of the HorseHage and Mollichaff brands, has appointed Sarah Turnbull as a part-time sales representative.

Sarah also works at Kingston Maurward College as a learning co-ordinator and assessor for equine apprenticeships. She is an equine science graduate and has BHSAI (assistant instructor) and Intermediate Stable Management qualifications.

Sarah is visiting wholesalers and stockists throughout the south of England, helping run in-store open days and attending events and shows with the HorseHage tradestand.

Based in Dorset, she competes at British Dressage novice level and is a member of the Team Quest ‘Piaffe and Go’ dressage team.

Sarah also enjoys show jumping and cross country. She has a new horse, Rosie, to ride this season.


NORTHERN RIDERS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BETA’S WORK


29th May, 2018.

Bramham horse trials will see The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) offering riders safety advice and rewarding the best tradestands.

The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) returns as sponsor of the CIC 3* at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials next week (7 to 10 June) for the sixth year running.

During the Yorkshire event, BETA will promote the importance of rider safety – and the work of the trade association and its members – to an enthusiastic equestrian audience.

“We are based in Wetherby, just down the road from Bramham Park, so it's great to be back on home turf,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams.

“The area is full of horsey people and Bramham attracts a large number of riders and owners who are keen to find out just what the trade association can do for them. It also gives us a brilliant opportunity to engage with visitors and find out about the things that are important to those living in the region.”

BETA will be offering free riding hat and body protector safety checks during the event. Everyone who takes up the offer of this service will be given a discount voucher worth 10% off the price of a new garment bought from a participating BETA retail member.

The Pony Club Team Show Jumping will receive BETA backing for a fourth year, with the trade association presenting a rug to each member of the winning team and prizes to the top three teams.

Visitors can help shape the future of sport by signing up to the BETA National Equestrian Research Panel, where they are invited to share their views. As a thank-you for doing so, they will be granted entry into the luxury BETA prize draw to be in with a chance of winning £1,500 worth of products for horse and rider.

BETA goody bags and doggy bandanas will be given out to visitors each day in return for a contribution to the Riding for the Disabled Association.

BETA will also host its Best Stand Awards and Tradestand Holders’ Breakfast at Bramham.


GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR RURAL AND COMMUNITY PROJECTS


29th May, 2018.

Applicants have a fortnight to apply for funding of up to £50,000.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is inviting applications for grants to support community led projects.

Its aim is to reinvigorate and sustain the countryside by providing services and amenities.

Funding of up to £50,000 is available and applications close on 14 June.

“We are proud to have distributed over £9 million since 2010 to more than 250 projects led by grassroots organisations,” says Claire Saunders, the fund’s director.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund was established by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2010 to enhance the quality of rural life.

More information at www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk/grants


PAYSLIPS WARNING: BE PREPARED FOR NEW RULES


29th May, 2018.

Employers are urged to check their wages systems before new rules come into effect next year.

New legislation expanding the information that employers are required to provide to workers in their payslips comes into force on 6 April, 2019.

In cases where employees’ pay varies with the time they have worked, employers must specify the number of hours for which an employee is being paid on their payslips.

The number of hours worked may be described either as an aggregate number of hours or as separate figures for different types of work (or rate of pay).

Payslips must be provided by all employers, whether or not they are requested by employees.

Presently, employees are entitled to be given a written itemised pay statement (ie. payslip) at or before the time wages are paid to them. This must specify:

• the gross amount of the wages to be paid;

• the amounts of any variable and any relevant fixed deductions and the purpose for which they have been made – this requires detail of the amount deducted and some form of words indicating what the deduction is for;

• the net amount of the wages to be paid; and

• in situations where different parts of the net amount are paid in different ways, the amount and method of payment of each part.

The requirement to provide a written payslip can be satisfied by providing employees with an online facility through which they can access their pay statement. However, if an employer knows an employee is having trouble accessing this, they must provide them with a payslip in a different format.

Best practice is to issue them with a hard copy, say experts.

An employee will be entitled to bring a claim in an Employment Tribunal (ET) if their employer:

• fails to provide a payslip;

• provides a non-compliant payslip (i.e. one that does not contain the four pieces of information above); or

• provides a payslip with inadequate particulars relating to deductions.

An employee can make a claim to the ET in respect of a payslip at any time during, or within three months following the termination of, their employment.

If the ET finds that the employer has failed to provide a payslip, or has provided a non-compliant payslip, the ET will make a declaration to that effect.

In cases where the ET finds that the employer has made deductions without giving the employee the required particulars in either their payslip or a standing statement in the 13 weeks prior to the presentation of the claim, the ET can make a financial award in favour of the employee.

With these changes coming into force on 6 April 2019, employers should consider now any changes to their systems necessary to satisfy the new requirements.

• With thanks to Paul Kelly of Blacks Solicitors. For more information, contact him on PKelly@lawblacks.com


NEW PRODUCTS CHAMPIONED BY LOYAL SPONSOR


21st May, 2018.

A supplier demonstrates its commitment to the trade by returning as sponsor of the New Product Gallery at BETA International 2019.

Shires Equestrian is to sponsor the New Product Gallery at BETA International for a sixth consecutive year.

Designed to highlight the very latest lines, launches and brands, this popular showcase sits at the heart of the show, where it is a must-see feature for all visiting retailers in need of inspiration and ideas.

Shires’ joint managing director Marcus Cridland said: “The updated New Product Gallery gave us a fantastic opportunity to reinforce our brand at BETA International 2018. It remains a real focal point at the show and continues to draw footfall from visitors.

“Times are changing in our industry and it is essential that Shires is in front of both the retailer and consumer as much as possible. The New Product Gallery continues to be a part of our plans to improve and develop our family of brands and we are delighted to support this feature once again in 2019.”

BETA International organiser Claire Thomas added: “It is fantastic to have Shires Equestrian back on board once again. They are a great company to work with and we are really looking forward to joining forces with Marcus and his team to deliver a first-class visitor experience where cutting-edge design and product development takes a leading role.”

Shires Equestrian joins the trade fair’s fellow supporters, official media partner Equestrian Trade News, visitor bags sponsor Hy, Champagne Bar sponsor NAF, official clothing supplier Toggi and main sponsor Neue Schule.

BETA International is the world's leading trade fair for equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet products. The 2019 show will take place at the NEC, Birmingham, from 20 to 22 January. For further information about exhibiting, contact James Palmer, telephone +44 (0)1937 582111 or email jamesp@beta-int.com


PLASTIC WASTE: HORSE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO ACT


21st May, 2018.

Recycling should be taken more seriously by the equestrian community, says retailer who’s running a refills scheme.

A Berkshire retailer’s refill service for fly repellents aims to reduce the number of plastic bottles that get thrown away.

Mel Jones, who owns and runs Thatcham based Threshers Barn Equestrian, buys the biggest available containers from her suppliers, then refills customers’ existing smaller bottles.

So far, she is offering the service on three leading brands.

“All I needed to set it up was a funnel and a measuring jug,” said Mel, who typically charges £14.99 to refill a fly repellent bottle that originally cost £19.99.

“I’m still making a margin and charging VAT – and my customers are saving £5 each time they get a re-fill. Over a summer that could buy them a nice new fly rug.”

Customers are encouraged to bring the original bottle for refilling as this contains important information such as ingredients and advice about patch testing and accidental spills.

Mel says she thought up the scheme while reading ETN May issue. “The editor’s comment talked about how much plastic waste the equestrian industry is generating - and something suddenly pinged into my head.”

Now Threshers Barn Equestrian plans to extend its refill service to mane and tail sprays and shampoos. And Mel hopes others in the industry will do their bit too.

“I visit many large livery yards, and I’ve rarely seen a recycling bin. Everyone just chucks everything into a bag and someone takes it home to put in their general rubbish.

“Mind you, manufacturers could make their recycling labelling on products a lot clearer. Sometimes it’s tiny – and are people really going to try to find it at 7pm on a winter’s evening at the yard just as it’s starting to snow and the horses need feeding? No, they’ll just put it into any old bin.”

The equestrian industry “needs to look at itself” according to Mel who says the message is an important one to spread as everyone involved loves the countryside and animals.

“I’m no eco-warrior,” she added. “But it makes common sense to try to do something.”

Threshers Barn Equestrian would be pleased to hear from manufacturers who can offer larger, retailer-only containers of horse care products suitable for re-fills.


IT’S GREAT TO WORK HERE, SAY EMPLOYEES


18th May, 2018.

The parent company of a horse feed brand is voted a ‘great place to work’.

Mars UK, owner of Spillers and Winergy feed brands, has been ranked as the eighth ‘Best Large Workplace’ in the UK by the Great Place to Work Institute.

It’s the third year in a row that Mars UK has been named in the rankings, the company having risen from 10th last year and 13th in 2016.

The listing is based on the results of an employee survey as well as an audit of people programmes, processes and culture.

Milton Keynes based Mars Horsecare offers its staff make-a-difference initiatives, dog-friendly offices and a discount store for its products.

“We produce great teams, enabling us to deliver the best products but our biggest vote of thanks has to go to all the horses we serve, who enrich and enhance our lives every day,” said Luke Saunders, Spillers and Winergy brand manager.


RETAILERS TEAM UP WITH FORMER MUSTO BOSS TO BUY TWO COUNTRYWIDE STORES


18th May, 2018.

The rural retailer’s administrators announce redundancies but find buyers for some stores.

More than 200 Countrywide staff have lost their jobs.

Administrators said the redundancies were “unavoidable” as they began closing stores this week.

However, buyers have been found for 14 former Countrywide branches saving 169 jobs.

These include the stores in Taunton and Cirencester which a new company, Wychanger Ltd, has agreed to purchase.

Wychanger Ltd has been set up by Roy and Jeanette Male, partners in retailer Wychanger Barton, and Peter Smith, former CEO of Musto Ltd.

A total of 208 people have been made redundant at Countrywide’s headquarters in Evesham, the Defford logistics centre and stores said to have no prospect of sale as going concerns.

“All affected staff have been informed and will be paid up to and including their last day of employment,” said David Pike, partner at KPMG and joint administrator.

Wynnstay has agreed to acquire the business and assets of eight stores in the south-west for a £0.8m, adjusted for stock valuation. It brings the total number of Wynnstay Country Stores to 60 outlets.

The stores Wynnstay has acquired are Bridgnorth, Crewkerne, Dartington, Helston, Otterham, Thame, Raglan and Wadebridge.

Administrators said they are hopeful of achieving four further sales from the remaining trading leasehold stores. The buyer is rumoured to be Mole Valley Farmers whose initial offer for all 48 Countrywide stores was blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).


NEW OWNER FOR GRIFFIN NUUMED


14th May, 2018.

Production to continue at popular saddlepad brand’s Somerset factory.

Griffin NuuMed has been acquired by Vale Brothers.

The deal will initially see NuuMed products continue to be made at the company’s factory in Somerset.

Griffin NuuMed – famous for its use of British wool in UK manufactured saddlepads – was set to close at the end of this month (May).

As Vale Brothers stepped in, NuuMed’s managing director Rosie Pocock said she was pleased the brand has a new home in the UK.

“With the combination of the skills among the NuuMed workforce and the benefits of being under the umbrella of a larger company, I can see the brand going from strength to strength,” she added.

Griffin NuuMed, founded by Mrs Pocock’s late husband Ian Pocock 28 years ago, joins Vale Brothers’ portfolio of British brands including E Jeffries, Brady Bags, KBF99, Thermatex and Harry Dabbs.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the brand continue to develop and prosper alongside our other UK brands,” said Peter Wilkes, managing director of Vale Brothers.

Under its new ownership, NuuMed will continue to produce own label lines for customers in addition to providing its made-to-measure and embroidery services.


DELIVERY CHARGES MUST BE CLEARLY STATED, RETAILERS TOLD


14th May, 2018.

Consumer complaints prompt advertising watchdog to issue a reminder.

Retailers must be clear about any charges that apply when delivering products to consumers, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has warned.

The watchdog says it receives “a fair number” of complaints regarding the issue which can add to Internet shoppers’ costs.

A snapshot of the ASA’s advice to retailers who advertise products for home delivery is as follows:

• If you’re advertising prices for products, you need to state your delivery charges. It’s misleading to omit them.

• Delivery costs are considered ‘material information’ ie. information that will affect a consumer’s decision about whether or not to purchase the product. So, if a product is priced at £169, but there’s an additional charge of £25 for postage, it must be clearly stated – and not hidden in lots of terms and conditions.

• If the consumer cannot obtain the product without paying the delivery charges, then the cost should be included in the price of the product.

• If the consumer can obtain the product another way, such as collect it themselves or from a store, then it may be acceptable to make clear that charges apply for delivery and to include the cost in a sufficiently prominent footnote. However, the ASA is likely to look unfavourably on retailers that rely on a very limited number of collection points as the reason for placing applicable delivery charges in a footnote.

• If charges apply per order, it’s acceptable to make clear that these charges apply and state the cost prominently. In the case of an e-commerce website, it may be acceptable to state the relevant charges on a separate page, provided this page is clearly linked or signposted from the stated price for the product.

• Delivery charges that are only revealed during the checkout process or after the customer has made a transactional decision are likely to break the rules.

• Occasionally, retailers may not know how much an item will cost to post to someone – perhaps because the item is particularly large or heavy, or they may be using a third party for their delivery. In this case, you need to make clear on the product pages that delivery charges are applicable, and be transparent about how those charges will be calculated.

• Make it clear upfront if you can’t offer delivery at all to some locations.

• Don’t get into hot water over ambiguous claims for ‘UK delivery’ or ‘UK mainland delivery’. The ASA says consumers often complain that the Isle of Wight is excluded or there is an extra charge to deliver to Northern Ireland despite both being part of the UK. The same goes for the Scottish Highlands - even when ‘mainland’ delivery is offered. The ASA advice is that it doesn’t matter where you deliver to, as long as you make sufficiently clear in your headline claim(s) which areas are included and excluded, and qualify this with how much it will cost to deliver to the excluded areas.

• If a minimum spend applies for free delivery, this must be made explicitly clear in the headline claim eg. ‘free delivery on orders over £40’. But if retailers aren’t able to offer this for all postcodes, this too must also be made clear in the headline claim.


SPARKLING SPONSORSHIP FOR BETA INTERNATIONAL 2019


11th May, 2018.

Sponsor returns to support the show’s popular networking area.

Equine supplement specialist NAF is to sponsor BETA International's Champagne Bar for the second time in a three-year deal that runs until 2020.

The NAF Five Star Champagne Bar is a popular place for friends and business colleagues to meet and network over a glass of bubbly.

“We’ve established a great relationship with NAF during its time as sponsor,” said BETA International organiser Claire Thomas. “Before our new agreement, the company had already sponsored the area in our 2016 and 2017 shows, and commitment of this sort is a huge endorsement of the trade fair and its strength as a business platform on the world stage.”

Linda Porter, NAF sales and marketing director, added: “BETA International puts on an excellent trade fair and it proves to be a great platform for us as we look towards not only further investing in the UK market, but continuing to develop our international markets. The NAF Five Star Champagne Bar is an excellent way for us to showcase our brand as the experienced, trustworthy choice for retailers and their riders, owners and horses alike.”

NAF joins fellow sponsors Equestrian Trade News, Hy, Shires Equestrian, Toggi and main sponsor Neue Schule.

BETA International is the world’s leading trade fair for equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet products.

The 2019 show takes place at the NEC, Birmingham, from 20 to 22 January. For further information about exhibiting, contact James Palmer, telephone +44 (0)1937 582111 or email jamesp@beta-int.com

ETN is the official media partner of BETA International.


DIFFICULT CLIMATE – WEATHER AND TRADING WISE – MAKES FOR TOUGH GOING


10th May, 2018.

Show trader and ETN diarist Guy Roper reports from Badminton.

We needed a break but we got a bank holiday instead.

I’m not sure how many of the peeling punters happily burning in Saturday’s sunshine realised how close to cancellation the event had been earlier in the week. If the forecast weather had arrived, there would have been no Badders ‘18.

Thanks are due to the organising team for having the courage to stick with it; though they must have had a few qualms on Wednesday in the gale-driven downpours.

I, for one, was very pleased it went ahead even though trading across the five days was at best mixed. Few admitted to having had a good show, apart from the food retailers who had a ball, or several, and sold them minced in a frenzied sausage boom which fuelled all the Saturday and Sunday barbecues.

It seemed to me that everyone fled after the showjumping and went off to enjoy the weather.

Talking to other traders at the first great reunion of the year brought home how bad the situation had got.

This winter has had the longest tail of any in recent times, and the resulting disruption to the sporting calendar leading to cancelled events has been devastating for the trade.

Stories abounded of the chaos that has characterised the first few months of the season. One chum told of only getting half a day’s trading out of three events. Another got so fed up with setting up in obviously poor conditions, only to be told after hours of work that the event was cancelled, that they simply took to parking on the last bit of tarmac and refusing to budge until they were sure it wouldn’t go ahead.

Yes, it’s frustrating for organisers, competitors and all involved. But the lack of refunds on stand fees and the last minute cancellations after you’ve paid for the diesel and the accommodation are having a crippling effect on the tradestand community.

We’re caught in the middle, and it’s not a good place to be right now. Even regular customers often whip out a mobile and show me the price they can get on the Internet.

“Can you match it?” Well no, actually, because I don’t operate from my garage and I carry stock you can take away with you today.

Trouble is, retail has changed and it’s changing faster with each passing iPhone model. But the business model of the events isn’t taking account of this.

We’re always told how important we are in the overall offer of the shows. But this is not reflected in the ever-narrowing space between the rising pitch fees and the inflating admission prices which reduce the punters’ spending power.

None of us are afraid of hard work - you wouldn’t last five minutes in this game if you were - but there comes a point at which the risk isn’t worth the reward. You can see the result of that in most high streets.

I’m not sure who sets the rules with regard to the contracts and charges at most events. All I know is they get tighter and higher each year, and often charges suddenly come in for things previously in the bundle.

Change is something I take as part of the landscape of life. But I worry that a combination of inertia and indifference is killing one of the vital parts of the complex mix of the show circuit. There is a disconnect between the organisers and the rest of us that wasn’t there before - and in this year’s difficult trading climate it’s becoming very marked.

Badminton’s organisers might like think what Worcester Way and Deer Park Drive would look like lined with charity shops. And no, my bet is the high street landlords up and down the country didn’t think that would happen either....

I’m glad that Badders went ahead and my fervent hope is that the weather will improve and we can trade our way back from this bad beginning.

But the present model isn’t helping - we are partners in these ventures, not clients. If that isn’t recognised in the future, the future will look very different.

Guy


COUNTRYWIDE ADMINISTRATORS FIND A BUYER FOR EIGHT STORES


1st May, 2018.

The acquisition will give the new owner more reach in the south-west.

Wynnstay has agreed with the administrators of Countrywide to acquire the business and assets of eight stores in the south-west.

The total initial consideration of £0.8m will be payable in cash on completion, and adjusted for stock valuation.

Five of the stores are located in Devon and Cornwall. The remainder are in Shropshire, Monmouthshire and Oxfordshire.

The acquisition brings the total number of Wynnstay Country Stores to 60 outlets.

Ken Greetham, Wynnstay’s chief executive officer, commented: "We are very pleased to have acquired eight country stores previously operated by Countrywide Famers.

“Their addition increases our footprint in both our existing trading heartland, and in the south-west of England, in particular giving us an increased profile in Cornwall and Devon.”

The stores Wynnstay has acquired from Countrywide’s administrators are Bridgnorth, Crewkerne, Dartington, Helston, Otterham, Thame, Raglan and Wadebridge.


TRADE CUSTOMERS TO BE DEALT WITH DIRECTLY BY FEED FIRM


1st May, 2018.

Company cuts ties with its long-time distributor.

Blue Chip is to start supplying retail and wholesale customers directly from the end of this month (30 May).

“Dodson & Horrell have been our distributor for seven years, but we need to take back ownership of our sales and get closer to the trade who are the life blood of our business,” said Blue Chip founder Clare Blaskey.

The company is also launching new “can’t miss it” packaging and product sizes, she added.

In addition, Blue Chip is planning more marketing with “exciting offers and promotions”, according to managing director Steve Davis who has been with the company for six months.

“By supplying the trade direct, we can keep our prices competitive while offering a very low minimum order value, and free delivery, all helping to maximise trade margins,” he told ETN.


“NO EXCUSES” SAY SURVEY ORGANISERS


1st May, 2018.

The upcoming National Equine Health Survey is set to provide the industry with valuable statistics.

Horse owners are urged to take part in the latest National Equine Health Survey (NEHS) being held this month (21 – 28 May).

“You can do it online quickly, easily and anonymously - so there are no excuses,” say the organisers.

Owners should visit www.bluecross.org.uk/NEHS to register and receive an email reminder nearer the time.

NEHS is run by the charity Blue Cross, in partnership with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). The snapshot survey reflects the health of the nation’s horses during a specific week so that diseases and problems can be identified, prioritised and addressed.

Over the past seven years, NEHS has become one of the UK’s most important endemic disease monitoring initiatives. Data is compared year on year to identify trends which become valuable benchmarks.

Last year 5,235 people returned records for 15,433 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules. The top five disease syndromes recorded in 2017 were:

1. Skin diseases 31.1% compared to 25.5% in 2016 (17.2% in 2015, 18.3% in 2014, 14.6% in 2013 and 15.2% in 2010-12). Sweet itch and mud fever were the most frequently reported individual syndromes within this category and made up 6.1% of all returns (6.8% in 2016).

2. Lameness (including laminitis) 23.4% compared to 32.9% in 2016, (24.4% in 2015, 21% in 2014, 19.2% in 2013 and 12.9% in 2010-12). Overall, as in previous years, if laminitis is excluded from the analysis, lameness due to problems in the limbs proximal to the foot was more common than problems in the foot.

3. Metabolic diseases 8.1% with PPID (‘Equine Cushing’s disease’) accounting for 73.4% of this figure, consistent with previous NEHS findings.

4. Eye problems 7.6% with ocular discharge (weepy eye) accounting for 54.2% of all ocular syndromes recorded.

5. Gastrointestinal problems 7.5% with gastric ulcers accounting for 39% of this figure and 3% all syndromes recorded (2.7% in 2016).


GDPR: ARE YOU READY?


1st May, 2018.

With time running out until GDPR comes into force this month (25 May), many businesses remain unprepared. In fact, a recent survey of readiness made for dismal reading - so here’s a useful update for ETN readers…

The collection and use of personal data is a daily occurrence for retail businesses.

Personal data is processed when, for example, a consumer logs in to their online account, makes a purchase online, or is sent promotional material by the retailer.

Personal data can be, and is increasingly, used by bricks and mortar and online retailers to try and stay ahead of their competitors by tailoring their offers and promotions to their customers.

The General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which has been designed to enable individuals to better control their personal data, will come into force on 25 May 2018.

A key principle of the GDPR is greater transparency as to how businesses are using personal data, with substantial fines for failure to comply. The maximum fine under the GDPR is 20 million euro or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is greater.

However, despite the GDPR being on the horizon for the past two years, according to a recent survey conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses just 8% of small enterprises are ready. One in three respondents had not started preparing while a further third said that they were in only the “early stages” of planning.

While the requirements of the GDPR may seem insurmountable to some, it should be treated as an opportunity to step back and review all data processing practices.

Furthermore, by being transparent about data practices and communicating to customers and potential customers how and why personal data is used, retailers can earn greater creditability.

What should retailers and brands therefore be doing as a priority?

• Undertake a compliance audit to understand the data processes and procedures currently in place, including the way that personal data is used by the business, and how long personal data is retained.

• Conduct a gap analysis in order to work out what compliance steps are needed going forwards.

Common areas which should be considered include:

o Preparing, or updating, website privacy policies, to reflect the GDPR requirements in respect of personal data collected from customers or potential customers through a website. This is because the GDPR is prescriptive as to the information to be provided to an individual when their personal data is collected.

However, be wary at simply “adapting” a privacy policy used by another brand. At best, this will amount to copyright infringement and theft. At worst, you will not know whether the policy complies generally with the GDPR, or specifically with the GDPR in respect of the personal data processed by your business. This will result in copyright infringement, theft, and a failure to comply with the GDPR!

o Preparing, or updating, data protection clauses in employment contracts in respect of personal data collected from employees, as well as internal policies and procedures on data protection, communications monitory, privacy and data retention in respect of personal data handled by employees.

o Reviewing and updating contracts with third party data processors which process personal data on your behalf. For example, courier companies which process certain customer personal data in the fulfilment of orders, or payroll providers which process employee personal data. Again, the GDPR has specific requirements as to what needs to be included in such contracts.

o Considering international data transfer processes for international businesses.

o Determining whether to appoint a data protection officer.

The clock is ticking down to 25 May. The GDPR may require significant changes for many businesses, some of which will require substantial lead time. With the threat of hefty fines, compliance should be treated as a high priority.

However, the Information Commission has been at pains to emphasise that 25 May 2018 will not usher in an era of punitive action against small businesses, stating that “We have always preferred the carrot to the stick. We will use fines and serious sanctions only as a last resort. Our first resort is education and support.”

In view of this, perhaps of greater immediate concern to retailers and brands for a failure to comply with the GDPR should be the potential damage to brand reputation.

• About the author: Laura Monro is an associate at Fox Williams LLP (www.fashionlaw.co.uk; www.idatalaw.com)