British American Tobacco UK Limited (BAT) has pledged to assist small store retailers in complying with the tobacco display ban on April 6 2015.

The Cutters Choice manufacturer wants to help alleviate the “high levels of confusion and anxiety” that exist amongst small store retailers, by providing merchandising options as well as advice and guidance to stores signed up to its MOR£ trade partnership scheme.

Citing the way in which JTI and Imperial are handling their respective conversion programmes, BAT’s marketing director Frank Silva told Convenience Store: “We’re not necessarily riding in on a white horse, but the feedback we’re getting from retailers compels us to do something. 

“We are hearing that our competitors are asking retailers to sign up to lengthy contracts which require stores to devote disproportionately large amounts of their gantry space to a few brands. If they agreed, they would not be able to service all their customers and it would reduce their revenue as well as potentially reducing competition in the market.

“Someone should stand up for the retailers who feel as though they don’t want to sign up to what’s on offer, but don’t want to go it alone.  So through our MOR£ Trade Partnership programme, we have decided that we will.

“We’re going to stand up. We’re going to try to provide a solution or advice to help small retailers in our MOR£ programme get through this period of change.”

BAT’s experience in Australia had given it a “huge amount of expertise” about complying with a display ban and which solutions worked best, Silva added.

“We think that we can do more to help retailers. So what we’re saying to them is: ‘if you are feeling held over a barrel there is another option - talk to us, we want to help.’  Our goal is simple: we want to help retailers grow and grow with them.”

Retailers who would like to work with BAT through the MOR£ trade partnership programme should speak to their dedicated BAT sales representative.