The RBA was formed with a written constitution which was adopted at the first AGM in September 1995. As well as bringing some uniformity to the bridal trade, it was intended that the RBA should form a widespread base of high quality retailers who would give the Bride not only the best in terms of quality, service and a wide choice of Gowns, but also create an aura of confidence to help the Bride through the build-up to her wedding.
Each RBA Member has gone through a selection process which assesses the quality of the owners/staff, the variety and condition of the stock offered and the general presentation of the shop to the public; the bride must be able to relax with experienced staff to advise her in a professional atmosphere. In addition, the financial credibility of the retail business is checked and its history examined. The business must have operated from dedicated retail premises for a minimum of five years and should not be part of a franchise organisation which could limit the choice available to the Bride.
The Law must be adhered to in all respects and the Member Retailer should be registered for VAT purposes and be paying Business Rates to the relevant Local Authority. The Conditions of Sale must be strong and fair to both parties. The stock of Gowns etc. must be insured whilst on the Member's premises (also the Staff and general public) and every care should be taken to present the goods which have been purchased in pristine condition.
Currently there are over 86 Retail Members of the RBA spread throughout the country and all tied together by the common bonds of quality, service and reliability. In addition, there are nearly 50 suppliers dedicated to similar standards in the affiliated British Bridal Suppliers Association (BBSA). Annual Credit Checks are taken up on all RBA Members with the assistance of the BBA.
There are many lines of communication within the RBA between Retail Members who can help each other in cases of supply difficulty regardless of location. Membership of the RBA is much sought after since not only does it provide the Retailer with a quality standing within the trade, but there are also significant financial benefits available as soon as the new Member is accepted. Only around 40% of the retailers who apply for Membership actually achieve it.
At certain times, the Association is able to take collective action. There have been occasions when pressure is needed to ensure that certain Manufacturers perform in a fair manner and the weight of the RBA has proved to be a substantial benefit. In addition, the Bridal Industry now has a voice in Government circles via the Dept. of Trade & Industry and the views of the best Bridal Retailers in the country can be brought together quickly by the RBA and presented to any policy research organization which may be preparing future legislation.
Prior to 1995, the Bridal Trade had no vehicle to which the Retailer could turn in the event of any difficulties, but now each RBA Member can communicate with many others who have experienced similar problems and the results are quite dramatic. The main aim is to present a strong retail sector dedicated to better service to the Bride, and since each RBA Member cherishes their Membership very highly, the result is achieved.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Retail Bridalwear Association you can complete an application form online, alternatively you can download a form to complete and post/fax to the RBA.