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Five reasons why becoming a member
can help you and your business

  • Training and development
  • Business support
  • Access to market data
  • Networking opportunities
  • Political representation


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Training

The BMF runs a wide range of training and skills development for employees of merchants, distributors and suppliers, from yard staff to company directors. Training ranges from online product knowledge to specialist skills training.

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Publications

BMF publications include One Voice magazine, Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI), Plumbing & Heating News, Timber Forum News, Remuneration survey, KPI report, Business News and CPA Weekly notes.

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Featured Events

The BMF has a wide range of events, forums and regional meetings to enhance networking opportunities.


RCI Show

BMF Pavilion at the RCI Show

27-28 March 2019

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RCI Show

BMF Pavilion at the RCI Show

27-28 March 2019

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RCI Show

BMF Pavilion at the RCI Show

27-28 March 2019

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RCI Show

BMF Pavilion at the RCI Show

27-28 March 2019

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RCI Show

BMF Pavilion at the RCI Show

27-28 March 2019

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RCI Show

BMF Pavilion at the RCI Show

27-28 March 2019

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RCI Show

BMF Pavilion at the RCI Show

27-28 March 2019

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RCI Show

BMF Pavilion at the RCI Show

27-28 March 2019

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RCI Show

BMF Pavilion at the RCI Show

27-28 March 2019

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RCI Show

BMF Pavilion at the RCI Show

27-28 March 2019

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BMF Mastermerchant
12-14 July 2019
 
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BMF Mastermerchant
12-14 July 2019
 
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BMF Mastermerchant
12-14 July 2019
 
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BMF Mastermerchant
12-14 July 2019
 
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BMF Mastermerchant
12-14 July 2019
 
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BMF Mastermerchant
12-14 July 2019
 
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BMF Mastermerchant
12-14 July 2019
 
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BMF Mastermerchant
12-14 July 2019
 
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BMF Mastermerchant
12-14 July 2019
 
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BMF Mastermerchant
12-14 July 2019
 
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BMF Branch Managers' Forum
26-27 March 2019

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BMF Branch Managers' Forum
26-27 March 2019

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BMF Branch Managers' Forum
26-27 March 2019

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BMF Branch Managers' Forum
26-27 March 2019

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BMF Branch Managers' Forum
26-27 March 2019

Learn More

BMF Branch Managers' Forum
26-27 March 2019

Learn More

BMF Branch Managers' Forum
26-27 March 2019

Learn More

BMF Branch Managers' Forum
26-27 March 2019

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BMF Branch Managers' Forum
26-27 March 2019

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BMF Branch Managers' Forum
26-27 March 2019

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Latest News



Here are the latest news stories from the BMF

Final line-up for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  


The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.  Mark Vandecruys, Chairman of Belgium-based Fedrus International, and Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Jewson will join the previously announced speakers, David Young of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France of Ibstock Brick.  

Bringing a European dimension to the debate, Mark Vandecruys is the co-owner and Chairman of Fedrus International, an independent Belgian distributor specialising in roofing and façade materials.  Over the last ten years, Mark has overseen the growth of the group from a small entity to a multinational business using a buy-and-build strategy. The company now comprises five operational units with total revenues of €650m and over 1550 employees. Mark also serves on the board of a number of companies, including BOSS paints. He is an alumni of Harvard Business School and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Vlerick Business School, contributing to their development programmes and acting as a sounding board for their entrepreneurship department.  

Neil Lawrence is both Chief Operating Officer for Jewson and Managing Director for Local Merchant Group, the latter a division of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland comprising the brands Gibbs & Dandy, Chadwicks, JP Corry, Normans, DHS, Benchmark Building Supplies, Matthew Charlton and Roger W Jones.  Neil’s career in merchanting spans over 35 years, since he started working life as a yard hand at UBM, moving through various roles within that business before it was acquired by Jewson.  He has experienced merchanting at every level, as a branch manager in Devon and Cornwall, an Area Director for the Midlands, and as Regional Director before joining the Jewson Main Board initially as Operations Director and then Sales & Operations Director.  In 2011 he was appointed MD of Gibbs and Dandy, the Saint-Gobain division that became Local Merchant Group in 2013. He took up the COO role at Jewson in December 2018, shortly after he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence that year. Neil is also the merchant advisor to the BMF board.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said, “The Industry Forum is one of the most engaging sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, setting the tone for our Saturday programme. With Neil and Mark completing our panel of speakers I can guarantee delegates will be presented with a broad range of perspectives on building materials supply in a post-Brexit environment before the debate is opened to the floor.”      
The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.

Williamson praises expansion of Derby Builders' Merchant 


Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply. And the number of small firms involved must increase if the drive to build more homes in the East Midlands is to succeed. 

That was the message from Browns Builders Merchants to Chris Williamson MP when he visited Derby’s oldest building materials’ business on the West Meadows Industrial Estate. 

Mr Williamson was welcomed by Jim Parlato, Browns’ Director, to see how Browns has invested in the business to open a second branch. The relocation of their heavyside operation to new premises means Browns has improved its Old Nottingham Road branch to expand the range of plumbing and heating, bathrooms, and fencing and landscape products. 

Browns Builders Merchants and its trade body, the BMF, want more done to ‘change the ratio’ between the small number of large builders and the large number of small builders to foster a diverse, functioning housebuilding market. 

Official figures show the East Midlands has relied on changes of use in existing buildings to increase housing. Derby and Nottingham are cities where between 30% and 55% of new homes last year were in buildings that had a previous purpose. According to Mr Parlato, encouraging SMEs into the market to build small projects, in many locations, is vital to boost housing numbers. 

After visiting the new branch, Derby North MP Chris Williamson said, “I was delighted to visit Browns and it’s great to see a long-standing Derby business flourishing. I pay tribute to Branch Manager, Lea Armstrong, and the team in opening a new branch. Better quality and more affordable housing is urgently needed to improve constituents’ lives. As a former bricklayer myself, I know merchants play a vital role in housebuilding and especially the repair, maintenance and improvement market. I wish them continued success in the coming years”. 

Jim Parlato, Director of Browns Builders Merchants, added, “We were pleased to welcome Chris Williamson and show him how Browns has evolved over a hundred and fifty years. We have chosen to invest and expand our business by opening a second branch to give better service to our trade and retail customers. It is great to have our MP take an interest in Browns and I hope Chris can help to raise the profile of merchants like us in Parliament”. 

This visit was another arranged by the BMF as part of its industry and parliament programme. The aim is to show MPs how trade essentials and value-added products move from quarries, brickworks, sawmills, and factories to where they are needed - and to outline the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for their communities. 
Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply.

Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade 


BMF Ireland regional meetingThe BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.  

Twenty four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan. 

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF Regional Chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA Chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.    

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.  

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF CEO John Newcomb providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF Policy Officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for No Deal.   

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”


For information and to book your place on BMF regional meetings and Forums click here.

The BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.

BMF Burns Supper raises £4,625 for charity  

31 January 2019

2019 BMF Burns SupperThe BMF raised £4,625 to share between Variety, the Children’s Charity, the BMF’s charity of the year, and the merchant industry charity, The Rainy Day Trust, at its annual Burns Supper, held at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.  

The event, which celebrates the life and works of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, is now an established fixture in the BMF’s calendar attracting 285 members from both sides of the Scottish border.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “Once again the BMF’s Scottish region has organised a fantastic event and, in the year of his retirement, it is fitting that it took place in the hometown of Britain’s greatest tennis player, Andy Murray.  Our thanks go to sponsors Velux, Rockwool, eCommonsense, Marley Plumbing & Drainage Solutions, Marsh Industries and BMN, and to all those who donated prizes for the charity raffle and auction for their generous support.  We must also thank everyone who helped to raise such a fantastic sum for the two charities we are supporting this year.”


Click here to view the images from Burns Supper 2019
Click here to view and book forthcoming BMF events
The BMF raised £4,625 for Variety, the Children’s Charity, and the merchant industry charity, The Rainy Day Trust, at its annual Burns Supper, held at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.

Final line-up for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  


The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.  Mark Vandecruys, Chairman of Belgium-based Fedrus International, and Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Jewson will join the previously announced speakers, David Young of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France of Ibstock Brick.  

Bringing a European dimension to the debate, Mark Vandecruys is the co-owner and Chairman of Fedrus International, an independent Belgian distributor specialising in roofing and façade materials.  Over the last ten years, Mark has overseen the growth of the group from a small entity to a multinational business using a buy-and-build strategy. The company now comprises five operational units with total revenues of €650m and over 1550 employees. Mark also serves on the board of a number of companies, including BOSS paints. He is an alumni of Harvard Business School and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Vlerick Business School, contributing to their development programmes and acting as a sounding board for their entrepreneurship department.  

Neil Lawrence is both Chief Operating Officer for Jewson and Managing Director for Local Merchant Group, the latter a division of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland comprising the brands Gibbs & Dandy, Chadwicks, JP Corry, Normans, DHS, Benchmark Building Supplies, Matthew Charlton and Roger W Jones.  Neil’s career in merchanting spans over 35 years, since he started working life as a yard hand at UBM, moving through various roles within that business before it was acquired by Jewson.  He has experienced merchanting at every level, as a branch manager in Devon and Cornwall, an Area Director for the Midlands, and as Regional Director before joining the Jewson Main Board initially as Operations Director and then Sales & Operations Director.  In 2011 he was appointed MD of Gibbs and Dandy, the Saint-Gobain division that became Local Merchant Group in 2013. He took up the COO role at Jewson in December 2018, shortly after he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence that year. Neil is also the merchant advisor to the BMF board.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said, “The Industry Forum is one of the most engaging sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, setting the tone for our Saturday programme. With Neil and Mark completing our panel of speakers I can guarantee delegates will be presented with a broad range of perspectives on building materials supply in a post-Brexit environment before the debate is opened to the floor.”      
The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.

Williamson praises expansion of Derby Builders' Merchant 


Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply. And the number of small firms involved must increase if the drive to build more homes in the East Midlands is to succeed. 

That was the message from Browns Builders Merchants to Chris Williamson MP when he visited Derby’s oldest building materials’ business on the West Meadows Industrial Estate. 

Mr Williamson was welcomed by Jim Parlato, Browns’ Director, to see how Browns has invested in the business to open a second branch. The relocation of their heavyside operation to new premises means Browns has improved its Old Nottingham Road branch to expand the range of plumbing and heating, bathrooms, and fencing and landscape products. 

Browns Builders Merchants and its trade body, the BMF, want more done to ‘change the ratio’ between the small number of large builders and the large number of small builders to foster a diverse, functioning housebuilding market. 

Official figures show the East Midlands has relied on changes of use in existing buildings to increase housing. Derby and Nottingham are cities where between 30% and 55% of new homes last year were in buildings that had a previous purpose. According to Mr Parlato, encouraging SMEs into the market to build small projects, in many locations, is vital to boost housing numbers. 

After visiting the new branch, Derby North MP Chris Williamson said, “I was delighted to visit Browns and it’s great to see a long-standing Derby business flourishing. I pay tribute to Branch Manager, Lea Armstrong, and the team in opening a new branch. Better quality and more affordable housing is urgently needed to improve constituents’ lives. As a former bricklayer myself, I know merchants play a vital role in housebuilding and especially the repair, maintenance and improvement market. I wish them continued success in the coming years”. 

Jim Parlato, Director of Browns Builders Merchants, added, “We were pleased to welcome Chris Williamson and show him how Browns has evolved over a hundred and fifty years. We have chosen to invest and expand our business by opening a second branch to give better service to our trade and retail customers. It is great to have our MP take an interest in Browns and I hope Chris can help to raise the profile of merchants like us in Parliament”. 

This visit was another arranged by the BMF as part of its industry and parliament programme. The aim is to show MPs how trade essentials and value-added products move from quarries, brickworks, sawmills, and factories to where they are needed - and to outline the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for their communities. 
Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply.

Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade 


BMF Ireland regional meetingThe BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.  

Twenty four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan. 

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF Regional Chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA Chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.    

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.  

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF CEO John Newcomb providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF Policy Officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for No Deal.   

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”


For information and to book your place on BMF regional meetings and Forums click here.

The BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.

BMF Burns Supper raises £4,625 for charity  

31 January 2019

2019 BMF Burns SupperThe BMF raised £4,625 to share between Variety, the Children’s Charity, the BMF’s charity of the year, and the merchant industry charity, The Rainy Day Trust, at its annual Burns Supper, held at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.  

The event, which celebrates the life and works of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, is now an established fixture in the BMF’s calendar attracting 285 members from both sides of the Scottish border.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “Once again the BMF’s Scottish region has organised a fantastic event and, in the year of his retirement, it is fitting that it took place in the hometown of Britain’s greatest tennis player, Andy Murray.  Our thanks go to sponsors Velux, Rockwool, eCommonsense, Marley Plumbing & Drainage Solutions, Marsh Industries and BMN, and to all those who donated prizes for the charity raffle and auction for their generous support.  We must also thank everyone who helped to raise such a fantastic sum for the two charities we are supporting this year.”


Click here to view the images from Burns Supper 2019
Click here to view and book forthcoming BMF events
The BMF raised £4,625 for Variety, the Children’s Charity, and the merchant industry charity, The Rainy Day Trust, at its annual Burns Supper, held at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.

Final line-up for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  


The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.  Mark Vandecruys, Chairman of Belgium-based Fedrus International, and Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Jewson will join the previously announced speakers, David Young of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France of Ibstock Brick.  

Bringing a European dimension to the debate, Mark Vandecruys is the co-owner and Chairman of Fedrus International, an independent Belgian distributor specialising in roofing and façade materials.  Over the last ten years, Mark has overseen the growth of the group from a small entity to a multinational business using a buy-and-build strategy. The company now comprises five operational units with total revenues of €650m and over 1550 employees. Mark also serves on the board of a number of companies, including BOSS paints. He is an alumni of Harvard Business School and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Vlerick Business School, contributing to their development programmes and acting as a sounding board for their entrepreneurship department.  

Neil Lawrence is both Chief Operating Officer for Jewson and Managing Director for Local Merchant Group, the latter a division of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland comprising the brands Gibbs & Dandy, Chadwicks, JP Corry, Normans, DHS, Benchmark Building Supplies, Matthew Charlton and Roger W Jones.  Neil’s career in merchanting spans over 35 years, since he started working life as a yard hand at UBM, moving through various roles within that business before it was acquired by Jewson.  He has experienced merchanting at every level, as a branch manager in Devon and Cornwall, an Area Director for the Midlands, and as Regional Director before joining the Jewson Main Board initially as Operations Director and then Sales & Operations Director.  In 2011 he was appointed MD of Gibbs and Dandy, the Saint-Gobain division that became Local Merchant Group in 2013. He took up the COO role at Jewson in December 2018, shortly after he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence that year. Neil is also the merchant advisor to the BMF board.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said, “The Industry Forum is one of the most engaging sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, setting the tone for our Saturday programme. With Neil and Mark completing our panel of speakers I can guarantee delegates will be presented with a broad range of perspectives on building materials supply in a post-Brexit environment before the debate is opened to the floor.”      
The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.

Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade 


BMF Ireland regional meetingThe BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.  

Twenty four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan. 

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF Regional Chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA Chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.    

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.  

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF CEO John Newcomb providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF Policy Officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for No Deal.   

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”


For information and to book your place on BMF regional meetings and Forums click here.

The BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.

BMF launches Building Blocks online training for merchant starters  


BMF Building BlocksThe BMF has launched Building Blocks, a new online training programme designed to introduce apprentices and other new starters to the intricacies of life in a builders’ merchant.  

The first two Building Blocks in the series – Timber as a Building Material and Heating and Hot Water Comfort - are now live on the BMF Campus website and can also be delivered via merchants’ own Learning Management Systems.  

Key product groups will be covered in further blocks and the programme ultimately builds into a comprehensive guide to the industry and products sold by every type of merchant.  

Each multi-media training block combines a range of video, animations and interactive content to bring the subjects to life.  The content is further reinforced with programmed learning in the form of downloadable reading/reference material and weblinks.  

The Building Blocks programme is being developed in conjunction with the BMF’s e-learning partner, Cortexa, an approved centre for Occupational Awards. Successful completion of each block will earn credits for the learner towards an online Merchant Award. This award, which is planned for publication later in the year, will require the learner to complete at least four blocks and pass a final exam.  

With fifteen e-learning Blocks planned for introduction over the next two years, BMF Building Blocks is set to be a fully accredited online programme that will define the standard of product training in the merchant industry.   

BMF Membership services Director, Richard Ellithorne said: “Online learning is a powerful and cost-effective way to deliver product and technical training.  The BMF Building Blocks programme is a 21st Century replacement for the old MOL distance learning workbook series, which had become dated both in terms of content and mode of delivery. We are working closely with Cortexa to create new rich media content and with our supplier members to ensure that the latest technologies and techniques are included in the programme.”  

Find out more about BMF Building Blocks at www.bmfcampus.co.uk

The BMF has launched Building Blocks, a new online training programme designed to introduce apprentices and other new starters to the intricacies of life in a builders’ merchant.

First speakers announced for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  

24 January 2019

David Young (left) and Tony FranceThe BMF has confirmed that David Young, Managing Director of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France, Sales Director of Ibstock Brick will take part in in a lively Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference, which takes place in June in Dubrovnik.  

The Industry Forum is one of the most popular sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, bringing together delegates from every sector of the industry to debate key business issues of the day.  The scene is set with initial presentations by four industry leaders, with many years of experience between them, before the debate is opened to the floor.  

Of the first two speakers to be named, Tony France will give a suppliers’ view, while David Young will draw on his current role, heading one of the country’s largest independents, and his earlier merchanting career within the Wolseley Group.  

Tony France is Sales Director of Ibstock Brick, the UK’s market-leading brick manufacturer with 21 factories producing over 800 million bricks a year.  He is also Supplier Advisor to the BMF Board and the BMBI ‘Expert’ for Bricks. Tony has worked in the brick industry for 34 years since joining the sales team of Steetley Brick & Tile in 1985. Having worked through the acquisitions of Steetley by Redland in 1992, then of Redland by Ibstock in 1996, he has seen a lot of change in the industry most of which, he says, for the good.  He has always worked closely with Builders Merchants, forming strong relationships and a deep passion for the sector.  He has also attended every BMF Conference since his first in Barcelona in 1994.  

David Young specialises in developing businesses through strong relationships with customers, suppliers and employees.  He has been Managing Director of Bradfords Building Supplies since 2015, heading a business that encompasses 43 builders merchants, 23 plumbing and heating branches, 23 toolhire branches and 7 kitchens and bathroom showrooms. He has worked in the construction materials industry throughout his career, joining the Wolseley UK graduate sales management training scheme in 1996.  He ran his first branch the following year and undertook a number of sales and operational roles within the Build Center brand, becoming Build Center trading director for the southwest in 2006 before moving to a national role with Drain Center five years later.  He joined Bradfords Building Supplies in 2014 as Business Development Director before taking up to his current role. 

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “With our Conference theme of “Building Excellence” we will be exploring how our industry can thrive no matter what the challenges presented by external environments beyond our control.  I’m delighted that David and Tony, who both have a wealth of experience in managing through change, have accepted our invitation to help set the agenda for this unmissable debate.”

The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
David Young, MD of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France, Sales Director of Ibstock Brick will take part in in a lively Industry Forum debate at this June’s All-Industry Conference, taking place in Dubrovnik.

Final line-up for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  


The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.  Mark Vandecruys, Chairman of Belgium-based Fedrus International, and Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Jewson will join the previously announced speakers, David Young of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France of Ibstock Brick.  

Bringing a European dimension to the debate, Mark Vandecruys is the co-owner and Chairman of Fedrus International, an independent Belgian distributor specialising in roofing and façade materials.  Over the last ten years, Mark has overseen the growth of the group from a small entity to a multinational business using a buy-and-build strategy. The company now comprises five operational units with total revenues of €650m and over 1550 employees. Mark also serves on the board of a number of companies, including BOSS paints. He is an alumni of Harvard Business School and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Vlerick Business School, contributing to their development programmes and acting as a sounding board for their entrepreneurship department.  

Neil Lawrence is both Chief Operating Officer for Jewson and Managing Director for Local Merchant Group, the latter a division of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland comprising the brands Gibbs & Dandy, Chadwicks, JP Corry, Normans, DHS, Benchmark Building Supplies, Matthew Charlton and Roger W Jones.  Neil’s career in merchanting spans over 35 years, since he started working life as a yard hand at UBM, moving through various roles within that business before it was acquired by Jewson.  He has experienced merchanting at every level, as a branch manager in Devon and Cornwall, an Area Director for the Midlands, and as Regional Director before joining the Jewson Main Board initially as Operations Director and then Sales & Operations Director.  In 2011 he was appointed MD of Gibbs and Dandy, the Saint-Gobain division that became Local Merchant Group in 2013. He took up the COO role at Jewson in December 2018, shortly after he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence that year. Neil is also the merchant advisor to the BMF board.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said, “The Industry Forum is one of the most engaging sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, setting the tone for our Saturday programme. With Neil and Mark completing our panel of speakers I can guarantee delegates will be presented with a broad range of perspectives on building materials supply in a post-Brexit environment before the debate is opened to the floor.”      
The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.

Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade 


BMF Ireland regional meetingThe BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.  

Twenty four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan. 

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF Regional Chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA Chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.    

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.  

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF CEO John Newcomb providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF Policy Officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for No Deal.   

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”


For information and to book your place on BMF regional meetings and Forums click here.

The BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.

BMF launches Building Blocks online training for merchant starters  


BMF Building BlocksThe BMF has launched Building Blocks, a new online training programme designed to introduce apprentices and other new starters to the intricacies of life in a builders’ merchant.  

The first two Building Blocks in the series – Timber as a Building Material and Heating and Hot Water Comfort - are now live on the BMF Campus website and can also be delivered via merchants’ own Learning Management Systems.  

Key product groups will be covered in further blocks and the programme ultimately builds into a comprehensive guide to the industry and products sold by every type of merchant.  

Each multi-media training block combines a range of video, animations and interactive content to bring the subjects to life.  The content is further reinforced with programmed learning in the form of downloadable reading/reference material and weblinks.  

The Building Blocks programme is being developed in conjunction with the BMF’s e-learning partner, Cortexa, an approved centre for Occupational Awards. Successful completion of each block will earn credits for the learner towards an online Merchant Award. This award, which is planned for publication later in the year, will require the learner to complete at least four blocks and pass a final exam.  

With fifteen e-learning Blocks planned for introduction over the next two years, BMF Building Blocks is set to be a fully accredited online programme that will define the standard of product training in the merchant industry.   

BMF Membership services Director, Richard Ellithorne said: “Online learning is a powerful and cost-effective way to deliver product and technical training.  The BMF Building Blocks programme is a 21st Century replacement for the old MOL distance learning workbook series, which had become dated both in terms of content and mode of delivery. We are working closely with Cortexa to create new rich media content and with our supplier members to ensure that the latest technologies and techniques are included in the programme.”  

Find out more about BMF Building Blocks at www.bmfcampus.co.uk

The BMF has launched Building Blocks, a new online training programme designed to introduce apprentices and other new starters to the intricacies of life in a builders’ merchant.

First speakers announced for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  

24 January 2019

David Young (left) and Tony FranceThe BMF has confirmed that David Young, Managing Director of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France, Sales Director of Ibstock Brick will take part in in a lively Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference, which takes place in June in Dubrovnik.  

The Industry Forum is one of the most popular sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, bringing together delegates from every sector of the industry to debate key business issues of the day.  The scene is set with initial presentations by four industry leaders, with many years of experience between them, before the debate is opened to the floor.  

Of the first two speakers to be named, Tony France will give a suppliers’ view, while David Young will draw on his current role, heading one of the country’s largest independents, and his earlier merchanting career within the Wolseley Group.  

Tony France is Sales Director of Ibstock Brick, the UK’s market-leading brick manufacturer with 21 factories producing over 800 million bricks a year.  He is also Supplier Advisor to the BMF Board and the BMBI ‘Expert’ for Bricks. Tony has worked in the brick industry for 34 years since joining the sales team of Steetley Brick & Tile in 1985. Having worked through the acquisitions of Steetley by Redland in 1992, then of Redland by Ibstock in 1996, he has seen a lot of change in the industry most of which, he says, for the good.  He has always worked closely with Builders Merchants, forming strong relationships and a deep passion for the sector.  He has also attended every BMF Conference since his first in Barcelona in 1994.  

David Young specialises in developing businesses through strong relationships with customers, suppliers and employees.  He has been Managing Director of Bradfords Building Supplies since 2015, heading a business that encompasses 43 builders merchants, 23 plumbing and heating branches, 23 toolhire branches and 7 kitchens and bathroom showrooms. He has worked in the construction materials industry throughout his career, joining the Wolseley UK graduate sales management training scheme in 1996.  He ran his first branch the following year and undertook a number of sales and operational roles within the Build Center brand, becoming Build Center trading director for the southwest in 2006 before moving to a national role with Drain Center five years later.  He joined Bradfords Building Supplies in 2014 as Business Development Director before taking up to his current role. 

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “With our Conference theme of “Building Excellence” we will be exploring how our industry can thrive no matter what the challenges presented by external environments beyond our control.  I’m delighted that David and Tony, who both have a wealth of experience in managing through change, have accepted our invitation to help set the agenda for this unmissable debate.”

The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
David Young, MD of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France, Sales Director of Ibstock Brick will take part in in a lively Industry Forum debate at this June’s All-Industry Conference, taking place in Dubrovnik.

Final line-up for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  


The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.  Mark Vandecruys, Chairman of Belgium-based Fedrus International, and Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Jewson will join the previously announced speakers, David Young of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France of Ibstock Brick.  

Bringing a European dimension to the debate, Mark Vandecruys is the co-owner and Chairman of Fedrus International, an independent Belgian distributor specialising in roofing and façade materials.  Over the last ten years, Mark has overseen the growth of the group from a small entity to a multinational business using a buy-and-build strategy. The company now comprises five operational units with total revenues of €650m and over 1550 employees. Mark also serves on the board of a number of companies, including BOSS paints. He is an alumni of Harvard Business School and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Vlerick Business School, contributing to their development programmes and acting as a sounding board for their entrepreneurship department.  

Neil Lawrence is both Chief Operating Officer for Jewson and Managing Director for Local Merchant Group, the latter a division of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland comprising the brands Gibbs & Dandy, Chadwicks, JP Corry, Normans, DHS, Benchmark Building Supplies, Matthew Charlton and Roger W Jones.  Neil’s career in merchanting spans over 35 years, since he started working life as a yard hand at UBM, moving through various roles within that business before it was acquired by Jewson.  He has experienced merchanting at every level, as a branch manager in Devon and Cornwall, an Area Director for the Midlands, and as Regional Director before joining the Jewson Main Board initially as Operations Director and then Sales & Operations Director.  In 2011 he was appointed MD of Gibbs and Dandy, the Saint-Gobain division that became Local Merchant Group in 2013. He took up the COO role at Jewson in December 2018, shortly after he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence that year. Neil is also the merchant advisor to the BMF board.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said, “The Industry Forum is one of the most engaging sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, setting the tone for our Saturday programme. With Neil and Mark completing our panel of speakers I can guarantee delegates will be presented with a broad range of perspectives on building materials supply in a post-Brexit environment before the debate is opened to the floor.”      
The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.

Williamson praises expansion of Derby Builders' Merchant 


Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply. And the number of small firms involved must increase if the drive to build more homes in the East Midlands is to succeed. 

That was the message from Browns Builders Merchants to Chris Williamson MP when he visited Derby’s oldest building materials’ business on the West Meadows Industrial Estate. 

Mr Williamson was welcomed by Jim Parlato, Browns’ Director, to see how Browns has invested in the business to open a second branch. The relocation of their heavyside operation to new premises means Browns has improved its Old Nottingham Road branch to expand the range of plumbing and heating, bathrooms, and fencing and landscape products. 

Browns Builders Merchants and its trade body, the BMF, want more done to ‘change the ratio’ between the small number of large builders and the large number of small builders to foster a diverse, functioning housebuilding market. 

Official figures show the East Midlands has relied on changes of use in existing buildings to increase housing. Derby and Nottingham are cities where between 30% and 55% of new homes last year were in buildings that had a previous purpose. According to Mr Parlato, encouraging SMEs into the market to build small projects, in many locations, is vital to boost housing numbers. 

After visiting the new branch, Derby North MP Chris Williamson said, “I was delighted to visit Browns and it’s great to see a long-standing Derby business flourishing. I pay tribute to Branch Manager, Lea Armstrong, and the team in opening a new branch. Better quality and more affordable housing is urgently needed to improve constituents’ lives. As a former bricklayer myself, I know merchants play a vital role in housebuilding and especially the repair, maintenance and improvement market. I wish them continued success in the coming years”. 

Jim Parlato, Director of Browns Builders Merchants, added, “We were pleased to welcome Chris Williamson and show him how Browns has evolved over a hundred and fifty years. We have chosen to invest and expand our business by opening a second branch to give better service to our trade and retail customers. It is great to have our MP take an interest in Browns and I hope Chris can help to raise the profile of merchants like us in Parliament”. 

This visit was another arranged by the BMF as part of its industry and parliament programme. The aim is to show MPs how trade essentials and value-added products move from quarries, brickworks, sawmills, and factories to where they are needed - and to outline the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for their communities. 
Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply.

Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade 


BMF Ireland regional meetingThe BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.  

Twenty four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan. 

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF Regional Chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA Chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.    

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.  

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF CEO John Newcomb providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF Policy Officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for No Deal.   

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”


For information and to book your place on BMF regional meetings and Forums click here.

The BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.

BMF Burns Supper raises £4,625 for charity  

31 January 2019

2019 BMF Burns SupperThe BMF raised £4,625 to share between Variety, the Children’s Charity, the BMF’s charity of the year, and the merchant industry charity, The Rainy Day Trust, at its annual Burns Supper, held at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.  

The event, which celebrates the life and works of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, is now an established fixture in the BMF’s calendar attracting 285 members from both sides of the Scottish border.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “Once again the BMF’s Scottish region has organised a fantastic event and, in the year of his retirement, it is fitting that it took place in the hometown of Britain’s greatest tennis player, Andy Murray.  Our thanks go to sponsors Velux, Rockwool, eCommonsense, Marley Plumbing & Drainage Solutions, Marsh Industries and BMN, and to all those who donated prizes for the charity raffle and auction for their generous support.  We must also thank everyone who helped to raise such a fantastic sum for the two charities we are supporting this year.”


Click here to view the images from Burns Supper 2019
Click here to view and book forthcoming BMF events
The BMF raised £4,625 for Variety, the Children’s Charity, and the merchant industry charity, The Rainy Day Trust, at its annual Burns Supper, held at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.

Final line-up for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  


The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.  Mark Vandecruys, Chairman of Belgium-based Fedrus International, and Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Jewson will join the previously announced speakers, David Young of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France of Ibstock Brick.  

Bringing a European dimension to the debate, Mark Vandecruys is the co-owner and Chairman of Fedrus International, an independent Belgian distributor specialising in roofing and façade materials.  Over the last ten years, Mark has overseen the growth of the group from a small entity to a multinational business using a buy-and-build strategy. The company now comprises five operational units with total revenues of €650m and over 1550 employees. Mark also serves on the board of a number of companies, including BOSS paints. He is an alumni of Harvard Business School and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Vlerick Business School, contributing to their development programmes and acting as a sounding board for their entrepreneurship department.  

Neil Lawrence is both Chief Operating Officer for Jewson and Managing Director for Local Merchant Group, the latter a division of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland comprising the brands Gibbs & Dandy, Chadwicks, JP Corry, Normans, DHS, Benchmark Building Supplies, Matthew Charlton and Roger W Jones.  Neil’s career in merchanting spans over 35 years, since he started working life as a yard hand at UBM, moving through various roles within that business before it was acquired by Jewson.  He has experienced merchanting at every level, as a branch manager in Devon and Cornwall, an Area Director for the Midlands, and as Regional Director before joining the Jewson Main Board initially as Operations Director and then Sales & Operations Director.  In 2011 he was appointed MD of Gibbs and Dandy, the Saint-Gobain division that became Local Merchant Group in 2013. He took up the COO role at Jewson in December 2018, shortly after he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence that year. Neil is also the merchant advisor to the BMF board.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said, “The Industry Forum is one of the most engaging sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, setting the tone for our Saturday programme. With Neil and Mark completing our panel of speakers I can guarantee delegates will be presented with a broad range of perspectives on building materials supply in a post-Brexit environment before the debate is opened to the floor.”      
The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.

Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade 


BMF Ireland regional meetingThe BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.  

Twenty four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan. 

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF Regional Chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA Chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.    

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.  

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF CEO John Newcomb providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF Policy Officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for No Deal.   

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”


For information and to book your place on BMF regional meetings and Forums click here.

The BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.

BMF launches Building Blocks online training for merchant starters  


BMF Building BlocksThe BMF has launched Building Blocks, a new online training programme designed to introduce apprentices and other new starters to the intricacies of life in a builders’ merchant.  

The first two Building Blocks in the series – Timber as a Building Material and Heating and Hot Water Comfort - are now live on the BMF Campus website and can also be delivered via merchants’ own Learning Management Systems.  

Key product groups will be covered in further blocks and the programme ultimately builds into a comprehensive guide to the industry and products sold by every type of merchant.  

Each multi-media training block combines a range of video, animations and interactive content to bring the subjects to life.  The content is further reinforced with programmed learning in the form of downloadable reading/reference material and weblinks.  

The Building Blocks programme is being developed in conjunction with the BMF’s e-learning partner, Cortexa, an approved centre for Occupational Awards. Successful completion of each block will earn credits for the learner towards an online Merchant Award. This award, which is planned for publication later in the year, will require the learner to complete at least four blocks and pass a final exam.  

With fifteen e-learning Blocks planned for introduction over the next two years, BMF Building Blocks is set to be a fully accredited online programme that will define the standard of product training in the merchant industry.   

BMF Membership services Director, Richard Ellithorne said: “Online learning is a powerful and cost-effective way to deliver product and technical training.  The BMF Building Blocks programme is a 21st Century replacement for the old MOL distance learning workbook series, which had become dated both in terms of content and mode of delivery. We are working closely with Cortexa to create new rich media content and with our supplier members to ensure that the latest technologies and techniques are included in the programme.”  

Find out more about BMF Building Blocks at www.bmfcampus.co.uk

The BMF has launched Building Blocks, a new online training programme designed to introduce apprentices and other new starters to the intricacies of life in a builders’ merchant.

First speakers announced for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  

24 January 2019

David Young (left) and Tony FranceThe BMF has confirmed that David Young, Managing Director of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France, Sales Director of Ibstock Brick will take part in in a lively Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference, which takes place in June in Dubrovnik.  

The Industry Forum is one of the most popular sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, bringing together delegates from every sector of the industry to debate key business issues of the day.  The scene is set with initial presentations by four industry leaders, with many years of experience between them, before the debate is opened to the floor.  

Of the first two speakers to be named, Tony France will give a suppliers’ view, while David Young will draw on his current role, heading one of the country’s largest independents, and his earlier merchanting career within the Wolseley Group.  

Tony France is Sales Director of Ibstock Brick, the UK’s market-leading brick manufacturer with 21 factories producing over 800 million bricks a year.  He is also Supplier Advisor to the BMF Board and the BMBI ‘Expert’ for Bricks. Tony has worked in the brick industry for 34 years since joining the sales team of Steetley Brick & Tile in 1985. Having worked through the acquisitions of Steetley by Redland in 1992, then of Redland by Ibstock in 1996, he has seen a lot of change in the industry most of which, he says, for the good.  He has always worked closely with Builders Merchants, forming strong relationships and a deep passion for the sector.  He has also attended every BMF Conference since his first in Barcelona in 1994.  

David Young specialises in developing businesses through strong relationships with customers, suppliers and employees.  He has been Managing Director of Bradfords Building Supplies since 2015, heading a business that encompasses 43 builders merchants, 23 plumbing and heating branches, 23 toolhire branches and 7 kitchens and bathroom showrooms. He has worked in the construction materials industry throughout his career, joining the Wolseley UK graduate sales management training scheme in 1996.  He ran his first branch the following year and undertook a number of sales and operational roles within the Build Center brand, becoming Build Center trading director for the southwest in 2006 before moving to a national role with Drain Center five years later.  He joined Bradfords Building Supplies in 2014 as Business Development Director before taking up to his current role. 

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “With our Conference theme of “Building Excellence” we will be exploring how our industry can thrive no matter what the challenges presented by external environments beyond our control.  I’m delighted that David and Tony, who both have a wealth of experience in managing through change, have accepted our invitation to help set the agenda for this unmissable debate.”

The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
David Young, MD of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France, Sales Director of Ibstock Brick will take part in in a lively Industry Forum debate at this June’s All-Industry Conference, taking place in Dubrovnik.

Final line-up for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  


The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.  Mark Vandecruys, Chairman of Belgium-based Fedrus International, and Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Jewson will join the previously announced speakers, David Young of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France of Ibstock Brick.  

Bringing a European dimension to the debate, Mark Vandecruys is the co-owner and Chairman of Fedrus International, an independent Belgian distributor specialising in roofing and façade materials.  Over the last ten years, Mark has overseen the growth of the group from a small entity to a multinational business using a buy-and-build strategy. The company now comprises five operational units with total revenues of €650m and over 1550 employees. Mark also serves on the board of a number of companies, including BOSS paints. He is an alumni of Harvard Business School and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Vlerick Business School, contributing to their development programmes and acting as a sounding board for their entrepreneurship department.  

Neil Lawrence is both Chief Operating Officer for Jewson and Managing Director for Local Merchant Group, the latter a division of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland comprising the brands Gibbs & Dandy, Chadwicks, JP Corry, Normans, DHS, Benchmark Building Supplies, Matthew Charlton and Roger W Jones.  Neil’s career in merchanting spans over 35 years, since he started working life as a yard hand at UBM, moving through various roles within that business before it was acquired by Jewson.  He has experienced merchanting at every level, as a branch manager in Devon and Cornwall, an Area Director for the Midlands, and as Regional Director before joining the Jewson Main Board initially as Operations Director and then Sales & Operations Director.  In 2011 he was appointed MD of Gibbs and Dandy, the Saint-Gobain division that became Local Merchant Group in 2013. He took up the COO role at Jewson in December 2018, shortly after he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence that year. Neil is also the merchant advisor to the BMF board.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said, “The Industry Forum is one of the most engaging sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, setting the tone for our Saturday programme. With Neil and Mark completing our panel of speakers I can guarantee delegates will be presented with a broad range of perspectives on building materials supply in a post-Brexit environment before the debate is opened to the floor.”      
The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.

Williamson praises expansion of Derby Builders' Merchant 


Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply. And the number of small firms involved must increase if the drive to build more homes in the East Midlands is to succeed. 

That was the message from Browns Builders Merchants to Chris Williamson MP when he visited Derby’s oldest building materials’ business on the West Meadows Industrial Estate. 

Mr Williamson was welcomed by Jim Parlato, Browns’ Director, to see how Browns has invested in the business to open a second branch. The relocation of their heavyside operation to new premises means Browns has improved its Old Nottingham Road branch to expand the range of plumbing and heating, bathrooms, and fencing and landscape products. 

Browns Builders Merchants and its trade body, the BMF, want more done to ‘change the ratio’ between the small number of large builders and the large number of small builders to foster a diverse, functioning housebuilding market. 

Official figures show the East Midlands has relied on changes of use in existing buildings to increase housing. Derby and Nottingham are cities where between 30% and 55% of new homes last year were in buildings that had a previous purpose. According to Mr Parlato, encouraging SMEs into the market to build small projects, in many locations, is vital to boost housing numbers. 

After visiting the new branch, Derby North MP Chris Williamson said, “I was delighted to visit Browns and it’s great to see a long-standing Derby business flourishing. I pay tribute to Branch Manager, Lea Armstrong, and the team in opening a new branch. Better quality and more affordable housing is urgently needed to improve constituents’ lives. As a former bricklayer myself, I know merchants play a vital role in housebuilding and especially the repair, maintenance and improvement market. I wish them continued success in the coming years”. 

Jim Parlato, Director of Browns Builders Merchants, added, “We were pleased to welcome Chris Williamson and show him how Browns has evolved over a hundred and fifty years. We have chosen to invest and expand our business by opening a second branch to give better service to our trade and retail customers. It is great to have our MP take an interest in Browns and I hope Chris can help to raise the profile of merchants like us in Parliament”. 

This visit was another arranged by the BMF as part of its industry and parliament programme. The aim is to show MPs how trade essentials and value-added products move from quarries, brickworks, sawmills, and factories to where they are needed - and to outline the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for their communities. 
Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply.

Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade 


BMF Ireland regional meetingThe BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.  

Twenty four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan. 

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF Regional Chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA Chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.    

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.  

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF CEO John Newcomb providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF Policy Officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for No Deal.   

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”


For information and to book your place on BMF regional meetings and Forums click here.

The BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.

Weaker November propped up by robust Timber & Joinery sales

29 January 2019

Total Builders Merchant value sales were up 0.8% in November compared with November 2017. Four categories did better, including Timber and Joinery Products (+3.9%), the second-largest category. Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+3.3%) had its highest monthly sales since BMBI started in July 2014.  

The Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) tracks builders’ merchants’ actual sales to builders and contractors using GfK’s Builders’ Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data. The BMBI represents over 80% of the value of the builders' merchants' market.  

Visit www.bmbi.co.uk/the-index to see the full November 2018 report. Read trends, analysis and industry issues from our panel of construction industry experts.  


Source: GfK Builders' Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data July 2014 - November 2018.   
BMBI
Total Builders Merchant value sales were up 0.8% in November compared with November 2017. Four categories did better, including Timber & and Joinery Products (+3.9%).

Final line-up for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  


The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.  Mark Vandecruys, Chairman of Belgium-based Fedrus International, and Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Jewson will join the previously announced speakers, David Young of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France of Ibstock Brick.  

Bringing a European dimension to the debate, Mark Vandecruys is the co-owner and Chairman of Fedrus International, an independent Belgian distributor specialising in roofing and façade materials.  Over the last ten years, Mark has overseen the growth of the group from a small entity to a multinational business using a buy-and-build strategy. The company now comprises five operational units with total revenues of €650m and over 1550 employees. Mark also serves on the board of a number of companies, including BOSS paints. He is an alumni of Harvard Business School and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Vlerick Business School, contributing to their development programmes and acting as a sounding board for their entrepreneurship department.  

Neil Lawrence is both Chief Operating Officer for Jewson and Managing Director for Local Merchant Group, the latter a division of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland comprising the brands Gibbs & Dandy, Chadwicks, JP Corry, Normans, DHS, Benchmark Building Supplies, Matthew Charlton and Roger W Jones.  Neil’s career in merchanting spans over 35 years, since he started working life as a yard hand at UBM, moving through various roles within that business before it was acquired by Jewson.  He has experienced merchanting at every level, as a branch manager in Devon and Cornwall, an Area Director for the Midlands, and as Regional Director before joining the Jewson Main Board initially as Operations Director and then Sales & Operations Director.  In 2011 he was appointed MD of Gibbs and Dandy, the Saint-Gobain division that became Local Merchant Group in 2013. He took up the COO role at Jewson in December 2018, shortly after he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence that year. Neil is also the merchant advisor to the BMF board.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said, “The Industry Forum is one of the most engaging sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, setting the tone for our Saturday programme. With Neil and Mark completing our panel of speakers I can guarantee delegates will be presented with a broad range of perspectives on building materials supply in a post-Brexit environment before the debate is opened to the floor.”      
The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.

Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade 


BMF Ireland regional meetingThe BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.  

Twenty four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan. 

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF Regional Chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA Chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.    

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.  

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF CEO John Newcomb providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF Policy Officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for No Deal.   

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”


For information and to book your place on BMF regional meetings and Forums click here.

The BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.

BMF earns 10th best practice Award nomination this year  


The BMF has earned its tenth Award nomination this year, with its latest initiatives to engage with members and its use of social media being recognised in the prestigious Association Awards, which promote excellence in association leadership.  

The BMF is shortlisted in two categories, Best Membership Engagement and Best Social Media Campaign. The first reflecting the BMF’s success in growing member numbers and broadening its appeal through the development of a wide range of Forums, and the second acknowledging its effective use of social media channels to broaden message reach and promote further engagement through the BMF website.  

BMF CEO John Newcomb said, “This has been an extraordinary year with the breadth and depth of our work for BMF members recognised in no fewer than 10 Award nominations. We view Awards such as these as a benchmark to measure our own performance against our peers in other trade bodies and professional associations – many of whom operate far larger organisations. I am extremely proud of the work of every member of the BMF team. They have yet again demonstrated that we are punching above our weight in support of our members.”

Run by the Association of Associations Executives, which has over 15,000 members throughout Europe, the Association Awards recognise excellence in leadership, development and service in membership organisations. The BMF is one of three shortlisted organisations in each of its shortlisted categories. The winners will be announced on 18th December.
The BMF has earned its tenth Award nomination this year, with its latest initiatives to engage with members and its use of social media being recognised in the prestigious Association Awards, which promote excellence in association leadership.

Chancellor backs BMF regional Help to Buy proposals


The BMF has welcomed the proposals announced by the Chancellor in the 2018 Budget that would see “new regional property price caps” introduced to the Help to Buy scheme. This was the main recommendation put to the Chancellor by the BMF in advance of the Budget. 

Commenting on the Budget, John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF said, “The BMF is delighted that the Chancellor has agreed with our proposals for regional thresholds to be introduced to the Help to Buy scheme.  

“Help to Buy has helped to drive forward the housing market whilst enabling many people to purchase their first home. Adding this new regional element will provide more targeting to ensure Help to Buy helps those who needs it most. The Chancellor’s plans will also stimulate local economies and compliment further proposals to boost the prosperity of SME businesses, such as builders merchants.

“However, we are disappointed that the Government has decided to bring the curtain down on Help to Buy in 2023. Over the coming years, we will be campaigning for a set of other measures to be introduced to further support housebuilding, as well as other construction projects, in all areas of the country”.

Mr Newcomb also welcomes the commitment in the Budget to boost the ability of local councils to build more homes, “Removing the cap on what local authorities can borrow against their Housing Revenue Account assets is very good news.

“A long-held BMF belief is for ministers to use all available levers to ‘Change the Ratio’ between the small number of volume house-builders and the rest to foster a diverse, functioning market for building. 

“This is why we are pleased to see the Treasury liberating both local authorities and SME private builders that, for too long, have been under-used players in housing provision”. 
The BMF has welcomed the proposals announced by the Chancellor in the 2018 Budget that would see “new regional property price caps” introduced to the Help to Buy scheme. This was the main recommendation put to the Chancellor by the BMF in advance of

Final line-up for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  


The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.  Mark Vandecruys, Chairman of Belgium-based Fedrus International, and Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Jewson will join the previously announced speakers, David Young of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France of Ibstock Brick.  

Bringing a European dimension to the debate, Mark Vandecruys is the co-owner and Chairman of Fedrus International, an independent Belgian distributor specialising in roofing and façade materials.  Over the last ten years, Mark has overseen the growth of the group from a small entity to a multinational business using a buy-and-build strategy. The company now comprises five operational units with total revenues of €650m and over 1550 employees. Mark also serves on the board of a number of companies, including BOSS paints. He is an alumni of Harvard Business School and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Vlerick Business School, contributing to their development programmes and acting as a sounding board for their entrepreneurship department.  

Neil Lawrence is both Chief Operating Officer for Jewson and Managing Director for Local Merchant Group, the latter a division of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland comprising the brands Gibbs & Dandy, Chadwicks, JP Corry, Normans, DHS, Benchmark Building Supplies, Matthew Charlton and Roger W Jones.  Neil’s career in merchanting spans over 35 years, since he started working life as a yard hand at UBM, moving through various roles within that business before it was acquired by Jewson.  He has experienced merchanting at every level, as a branch manager in Devon and Cornwall, an Area Director for the Midlands, and as Regional Director before joining the Jewson Main Board initially as Operations Director and then Sales & Operations Director.  In 2011 he was appointed MD of Gibbs and Dandy, the Saint-Gobain division that became Local Merchant Group in 2013. He took up the COO role at Jewson in December 2018, shortly after he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence that year. Neil is also the merchant advisor to the BMF board.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said, “The Industry Forum is one of the most engaging sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, setting the tone for our Saturday programme. With Neil and Mark completing our panel of speakers I can guarantee delegates will be presented with a broad range of perspectives on building materials supply in a post-Brexit environment before the debate is opened to the floor.”      
The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.

Williamson praises expansion of Derby Builders' Merchant 


Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply. And the number of small firms involved must increase if the drive to build more homes in the East Midlands is to succeed. 

That was the message from Browns Builders Merchants to Chris Williamson MP when he visited Derby’s oldest building materials’ business on the West Meadows Industrial Estate. 

Mr Williamson was welcomed by Jim Parlato, Browns’ Director, to see how Browns has invested in the business to open a second branch. The relocation of their heavyside operation to new premises means Browns has improved its Old Nottingham Road branch to expand the range of plumbing and heating, bathrooms, and fencing and landscape products. 

Browns Builders Merchants and its trade body, the BMF, want more done to ‘change the ratio’ between the small number of large builders and the large number of small builders to foster a diverse, functioning housebuilding market. 

Official figures show the East Midlands has relied on changes of use in existing buildings to increase housing. Derby and Nottingham are cities where between 30% and 55% of new homes last year were in buildings that had a previous purpose. According to Mr Parlato, encouraging SMEs into the market to build small projects, in many locations, is vital to boost housing numbers. 

After visiting the new branch, Derby North MP Chris Williamson said, “I was delighted to visit Browns and it’s great to see a long-standing Derby business flourishing. I pay tribute to Branch Manager, Lea Armstrong, and the team in opening a new branch. Better quality and more affordable housing is urgently needed to improve constituents’ lives. As a former bricklayer myself, I know merchants play a vital role in housebuilding and especially the repair, maintenance and improvement market. I wish them continued success in the coming years”. 

Jim Parlato, Director of Browns Builders Merchants, added, “We were pleased to welcome Chris Williamson and show him how Browns has evolved over a hundred and fifty years. We have chosen to invest and expand our business by opening a second branch to give better service to our trade and retail customers. It is great to have our MP take an interest in Browns and I hope Chris can help to raise the profile of merchants like us in Parliament”. 

This visit was another arranged by the BMF as part of its industry and parliament programme. The aim is to show MPs how trade essentials and value-added products move from quarries, brickworks, sawmills, and factories to where they are needed - and to outline the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for their communities. 
Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply.

Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade 


BMF Ireland regional meetingThe BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.  

Twenty four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan. 

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF Regional Chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA Chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.    

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.  

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF CEO John Newcomb providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF Policy Officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for No Deal.   

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”


For information and to book your place on BMF regional meetings and Forums click here.

The BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.

BMF Burns Supper raises £4,625 for charity  

31 January 2019

2019 BMF Burns SupperThe BMF raised £4,625 to share between Variety, the Children’s Charity, the BMF’s charity of the year, and the merchant industry charity, The Rainy Day Trust, at its annual Burns Supper, held at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.  

The event, which celebrates the life and works of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, is now an established fixture in the BMF’s calendar attracting 285 members from both sides of the Scottish border.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “Once again the BMF’s Scottish region has organised a fantastic event and, in the year of his retirement, it is fitting that it took place in the hometown of Britain’s greatest tennis player, Andy Murray.  Our thanks go to sponsors Velux, Rockwool, eCommonsense, Marley Plumbing & Drainage Solutions, Marsh Industries and BMN, and to all those who donated prizes for the charity raffle and auction for their generous support.  We must also thank everyone who helped to raise such a fantastic sum for the two charities we are supporting this year.”


Click here to view the images from Burns Supper 2019
Click here to view and book forthcoming BMF events
The BMF raised £4,625 for Variety, the Children’s Charity, and the merchant industry charity, The Rainy Day Trust, at its annual Burns Supper, held at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.

Final line-up for BMF All-Industry Conference Forum  


The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.  Mark Vandecruys, Chairman of Belgium-based Fedrus International, and Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Jewson will join the previously announced speakers, David Young of Bradfords Building Supplies and Tony France of Ibstock Brick.  

Bringing a European dimension to the debate, Mark Vandecruys is the co-owner and Chairman of Fedrus International, an independent Belgian distributor specialising in roofing and façade materials.  Over the last ten years, Mark has overseen the growth of the group from a small entity to a multinational business using a buy-and-build strategy. The company now comprises five operational units with total revenues of €650m and over 1550 employees. Mark also serves on the board of a number of companies, including BOSS paints. He is an alumni of Harvard Business School and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Vlerick Business School, contributing to their development programmes and acting as a sounding board for their entrepreneurship department.  

Neil Lawrence is both Chief Operating Officer for Jewson and Managing Director for Local Merchant Group, the latter a division of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland comprising the brands Gibbs & Dandy, Chadwicks, JP Corry, Normans, DHS, Benchmark Building Supplies, Matthew Charlton and Roger W Jones.  Neil’s career in merchanting spans over 35 years, since he started working life as a yard hand at UBM, moving through various roles within that business before it was acquired by Jewson.  He has experienced merchanting at every level, as a branch manager in Devon and Cornwall, an Area Director for the Midlands, and as Regional Director before joining the Jewson Main Board initially as Operations Director and then Sales & Operations Director.  In 2011 he was appointed MD of Gibbs and Dandy, the Saint-Gobain division that became Local Merchant Group in 2013. He took up the COO role at Jewson in December 2018, shortly after he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence that year. Neil is also the merchant advisor to the BMF board.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said, “The Industry Forum is one of the most engaging sessions at the BMF’s biennial Conference, setting the tone for our Saturday programme. With Neil and Mark completing our panel of speakers I can guarantee delegates will be presented with a broad range of perspectives on building materials supply in a post-Brexit environment before the debate is opened to the floor.”      
The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference.co.uk
The BMF has confirmed the final speaker line up for its popular Industry Forum debate at this year’s All-Industry Conference.

Williamson praises expansion of Derby Builders' Merchant 


Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply. And the number of small firms involved must increase if the drive to build more homes in the East Midlands is to succeed. 

That was the message from Browns Builders Merchants to Chris Williamson MP when he visited Derby’s oldest building materials’ business on the West Meadows Industrial Estate. 

Mr Williamson was welcomed by Jim Parlato, Browns’ Director, to see how Browns has invested in the business to open a second branch. The relocation of their heavyside operation to new premises means Browns has improved its Old Nottingham Road branch to expand the range of plumbing and heating, bathrooms, and fencing and landscape products. 

Browns Builders Merchants and its trade body, the BMF, want more done to ‘change the ratio’ between the small number of large builders and the large number of small builders to foster a diverse, functioning housebuilding market. 

Official figures show the East Midlands has relied on changes of use in existing buildings to increase housing. Derby and Nottingham are cities where between 30% and 55% of new homes last year were in buildings that had a previous purpose. According to Mr Parlato, encouraging SMEs into the market to build small projects, in many locations, is vital to boost housing numbers. 

After visiting the new branch, Derby North MP Chris Williamson said, “I was delighted to visit Browns and it’s great to see a long-standing Derby business flourishing. I pay tribute to Branch Manager, Lea Armstrong, and the team in opening a new branch. Better quality and more affordable housing is urgently needed to improve constituents’ lives. As a former bricklayer myself, I know merchants play a vital role in housebuilding and especially the repair, maintenance and improvement market. I wish them continued success in the coming years”. 

Jim Parlato, Director of Browns Builders Merchants, added, “We were pleased to welcome Chris Williamson and show him how Browns has evolved over a hundred and fifty years. We have chosen to invest and expand our business by opening a second branch to give better service to our trade and retail customers. It is great to have our MP take an interest in Browns and I hope Chris can help to raise the profile of merchants like us in Parliament”. 

This visit was another arranged by the BMF as part of its industry and parliament programme. The aim is to show MPs how trade essentials and value-added products move from quarries, brickworks, sawmills, and factories to where they are needed - and to outline the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for their communities. 
Unrelenting determination by national government and by local authorities is required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply.

Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade 


BMF Ireland regional meetingThe BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.  

Twenty four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan. 

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF Regional Chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA Chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.    

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.  

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF CEO John Newcomb providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF Policy Officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for No Deal.   

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”


For information and to book your place on BMF regional meetings and Forums click here.

The BMF held an historic meeting consisting of members from across the island of Ireland gathered together for the first time last week.

BMF Burns Supper raises £4,625 for charity  

31 January 2019

2019 BMF Burns SupperThe BMF raised £4,625 to share between Variety, the Children’s Charity, the BMF’s charity of the year, and the merchant industry charity, The Rainy Day Trust, at its annual Burns Supper, held at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.  

The event, which celebrates the life and works of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, is now an established fixture in the BMF’s calendar attracting 285 members from both sides of the Scottish border.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “Once again the BMF’s Scottish region has organised a fantastic event and, in the year of his retirement, it is fitting that it took place in the hometown of Britain’s greatest tennis player, Andy Murray.  Our thanks go to sponsors Velux, Rockwool, eCommonsense, Marley Plumbing & Drainage Solutions, Marsh Industries and BMN, and to all those who donated prizes for the charity raffle and auction for their generous support.  We must also thank everyone who helped to raise such a fantastic sum for the two charities we are supporting this year.”


Click here to view the images from Burns Supper 2019
Click here to view and book forthcoming BMF events
The BMF raised £4,625 for Variety, the Children’s Charity, and the merchant industry charity, The Rainy Day Trust, at its annual Burns Supper, held at the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.
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