Three German retail associations BTE (representing apparel), BDSE (footwear) and BLE (leathergoods) have decided to merge this year to form the BTE Handelsverband Textil, Schuh, Lederwaren.

The combination will give the new assocation more clout in defending the interests of their members “alongside and in line with the HDE,” according to a press release. HDE is an umbrella organization grouping German retailers, to which the three associations belong and that has been carrying out lobbying activity across all sectors.

The statement explained that the coronavirus pandemic has shown the importance of having direct access to decision-makers in the federal government. Therefore, the new organization plans to open its own office in Berlin in 2022. “The entire textile, shoe and leather goods trade is still not noticed enough in political Berlin. This is also due to the fact that some industry giants previously believed that they could better assert their interests on their own. That turned out to be a mistake,” it added. “So far, it has not been so necessary to exert influence on major policies,” emphasized Axel Augustin, spokesman for BTE. But if there is another emergency ”we have to be better positioned,” he added.

The board of the new organization will be composed of representatives from all three associations. It will also include specialist groups to represent specific interests. 

BTE, BDSE and BLE are structured identically and are made up of eight regional associations. The retailers are organized within the regional associations. “The associations have already worked together a lot before, the merger should further simplify future work and make it more efficient,” said Augustin.

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