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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.




BMF Mastermerchant

13-15 July 2018

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BMF Anniversary
2018
 
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VADO Rally
7-10 June 2018

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Latest News



Here are the latest news stories from the BMF

CABLE PRAISES SUCCESS OF TWICKENHAM TIMBER BUSINESS


If the UK Government does not secure mutually-beneficial customs’ arrangements before the United Kingdom leaves the EU in ten months’ time, Twickenham firm Alsford Timber will have to pay millions more upfront to buy European softwood used in local construction.  

That was the message from Alsford Timber, South-West London’s largest timber and builders’ merchant to Sir Vince Cable MP when he visited the 136-year old business in the town.  

The Liberal Democrat Leader was welcomed by Neil Fuller, Alsford’s Managing Director, to see for himself how merchants deliver for their local communities. Growing the market for timber used in new housing and to convert, extend and repair existing homes was top of the agenda.  

Alsford Timber and its trade body, the Builders Merchants Federation, are concerned that not enough is being done in Whitehall to prepare for a ‘no deal’ situation - and the impact it will have on prices and supplies of building materials. Concern is focused on Value-Added Tax and the likelihood of having to pay 20% VAT upfront on European timber and other materials.  

Neil Fuller explained to Sir Vince that the UK is not self-sufficient in timber - 60% of imports come from EU countries like Sweden, Finland and Latvia. Unless Britain secures a mutually-beneficial customs’ agreement, Alsford Timber will have to pay 20% more for timber because VAT becomes liable to pay upfront before consignments can leave ports. Mr Fuller warned of the serious and immediate implications for cashflow, costs and prices for merchants such as Alsford Timber.  

Twickenham MP Sir Vince Cable said: “It’s great to see an example of business flourishing in Twickenham. Alsford Timber plays a critical role in local house-building, and especially the home repair, maintenance and improvement market in the Borough and beyond. I enjoyed meeting Neil Fuller and the team, and wish Branch Manager Tom Stratford continued success in the coming years”.  

Neil Fuller, Managing Director of Alsford Timber, added: “We were delighted to welcome Sir Vince to Alsford Timber and show him how the company has evolved over the past few years. It is always great to have our MP taking an interest in local businesses such as ours. I hope Sir Vince can help us by raising the issue in Parliament and with ministers. Merchants already face significant cost increases due to rising world prices and currency fluctuations involving Sterling. Paying 20% more due to VAT rules is not something we look forward to”.

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 get from quarries, brickworks, sawmills & factories to where they are needed - and to outline the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for their communities. This year, the BMF celebrates its 110th anniversary as a trade association and 40th anniversary as the Builders Merchants’ Federation.  

Commenting on the visit, John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF said: “Merchants are delivering the building blocks for growth in the South East and the rest of the country. We’re grateful of the Liberal Democrats’ support for customs arrangements and their importance for the merchant supply chain. Our members and the building materials supply chain has consistently reported robust growth, but we are not without challenges. The uncertainly of customs arrangements after Brexit is particularly worrying. 60% of timber used in the UK is imported from other countries. The central issue for timber firms is preparing for an uncertain Brexit future. As long as the UK stays within the customs unions, businesses like Alsford don’t have to pay customs’ duties at borders, provide rules of origin declarations and experience little or no delays to imports or exports”.
The Liberal Democrat Leader was welcomed by Neil Fuller, Alsford’s Managing Director, to see for himself how merchants deliver for their local communities. Growing the market for timber used in new housing and to convert, extend and repair existing h

Builders Merchants sales growth continues upward trend in Q1 2018  


While no one would deny that the building and construction sector faced a challenging first quarter, figures just released in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) show continued growth, albeit at a slower rate. Sales value growth in Q 1 2018 was up +0.4% in absolute terms and up +2.0% per trading day on the same period last year.  

Growth would have been stronger had it not been for the “Beast from the East” hammering the external product categories and Good Friday falling into March removing a trading day from Q1 2018. March, with two fewer trading days than 2017, was down -8.6% year on year, but January and February’s sales compensated, at +8.4% and +4.0% respectively delivering growth for the quarter.  

Quarterly growth was driven by Timber, up +2.3%, alongside multiple internal product categories, notably Plumbing and Heating (+8.0%), Kitchens and Bathrooms (+3.6%), Ironmongery (+2.1%), and Decorating (+1.2%), all suggesting that work stayed inside due to the poor weather.  

External categories fared less well including Landscaping (-4.9%) - where garden walling and paving were particularly badly affected - and the major category of Heavy Building Materials down -0.8% with Cement and Blocks feeling the freeze.  

The BMBI uses GfK’s point of sale tracking data drawn from over 80% of builders merchants’ sales throughout the country, making it the most reliable source of data for the sector.

Commenting on the results, John Newcomb CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation said: “Sitting in the spring sunshine we have all but forgotten the artic blasts that swept the country in the first three months of the year, but they certainly impacted construction performance.  Under these conditions it must be seen as a positive that merchant sales growth is continuing.  While we may not see the market grow at the same levels as 2017, we remain confident that the trend will continue throughout 2018.”  

Richard Frankcom, Client Insight Director at GfK compared the quarter’s figures to a diamond in the rough, saying: “Merchant sales have outperformed the revised construction figures from the ONS, which fell -2.7% on the previous quarter.  They also appear to be bucking the UK consumer’s negative outlook as seen in GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index, which was still in the doldrums.  However, before we polish these diamonds, we need to see the delayed external work shift into April and then continued growth year on year in May and June. Value growth is great, but price inflation is a factor we cannot ignore and only this continued growth will really give us clarity.”
While no one would deny that the building and construction sector faced a challenging first quarter, figures just released in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) show continued growth, albeit at a slower rate. Sales value growth in Q 1

Andrew Harrison and David Kilburn to speak at BMF Young Merchants Conference  

Two of the most influential leaders in the builders’ merchant industry will speak at the BMF Young Merchants Conference at the NEC, Birmingham in October.   

Andrew Harrison, Deputy CEO – Plumbing and Heating at Travis Perkins and David Kilburn Executive Chairman of MKM Building Supplies will each give presentations at the event’s Industry Forum and then take part in a Q&A session on the issues raised.  

Both men have a lifetime’s experience in merchanting and pivotal roles in the industry, one with the UK’s leading merchant group, the other chairing the country’s largest independent.    

Andrew Harrison, started his merchant career in 1980 as a management trainee with Graham Reeves, part of the Graham Group, in Cornwall.  Following branch and area management roles, he moved to Sharpe & Fisher as Operations Director helping to grow the business to 38 branches prior to its acquisition by Travis Perkins in 1999.  Andrew was then Managing Director at CCF, Benchmarx Kitchens and Joinery, and Keyline before becoming Divisional Chief Operating Officer of Travis Perkins General Merchanting Division in 2013, with responsibility for Travis Perkins, Benchmarx, Managed Services and Toolhire. He took up his current role in June 2017.  

David Kilburn started his career fifty years ago with Crossley Building Products in Teeside before joining the Graham Group now part of Jewsons.  He set up his first business in Scarborough in the 1980s and sold it soon afterwards, joining Harcros Timber and Building Supplies. Ten years later he was made redundant, giving him the spur to form MKM Building Supplies which opened its first branch in Hull in 1995 in a 5000 square foot shed with no outside yard.  Today MKM is the UK's largest independent merchant with 52 branches and revenue in excess of £350 million.  

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “We are delighted to welcome two of our industry’s current leaders to take part in our first Young Merchants Conference which takes the theme Building for the Future. The industry has changed dramatically in the last 30 years and is likely to change even more dramatically in the next.  Our conference programme brings together expert opinion from our own industry and beyond as well as providing opportunities for delegates to challenge and debate current issues both in the Industry Forum Q&A and during a further Panel session.”  

The BMF Young Merchants Conference takes place on 11 October 2018 during UK Construction Week at the NEC.  The Conference is free of charge to current members of the BMF Young Merchants group. The event is also open to anyone aged between 21 and 40, working in the building material supply industry for a small fee. For full details and registration information please contact james.spillane@bmf.org.uk.

To book your place click here.
Two of the most influential leaders in the builders’ merchant industry, David Kilburn and Andrew Harrison, will speak at the BMF Young Merchants Conference at the NEC, Birmingham in October.

BMF wins ASI award for second time


Oz BhamThe BMF website, launched in April 2017, has recently received the coveted Great Things Award for the second year running, in the annual awards and conference run by the worldwide software company ASI.  

ASI, which developed the iMIS member engagement system which is instrumental to the functionality of the BMF’s website, supports Trade Associations, membership bodies and other not for profit organisations around the globe. Their Awards judge websites on content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality and interactivity and overall user experience.  

Given annually at ASI's iNNOVATIONS partner and client conference, the Great Things Awards are based on ASI's mission to "Help People Achieve Great Things Through Innovative Solutions". ASI recognises iMIS clients who have demonstrated excellence in using iMIS to improve operational efficiency, advance their mission and achieve 'great things'.   

Commenting on the Award, Oz Bham, Membership and IT Manager said: “The BMF places high functionality at the core of its website. When we launched the site in April 2017 we had a clear set of priorities and winning this Award is recognition that we have achieved those aspirations.  

“We wanted our merchant, supplier and service members to understand how the BMF can deliver added value to their businesses, which have different needs. We also wanted to engage with prospective members and lead them through the process from initial contact to full membership. To achieve this, personalisation was a key aspect of the design. For example, the homepage offers the option to display the most appropriate content by job role and sector. This enables all visitors to tailor their experience depending on their exact requirements and interests.  

“The overall user experience has been enhanced by sign posting methods using clear ‘call to actions’ across the website to ensure that every visitor can easily navigate to the required page with minimum effort. The call to action buttons include finding out what BMF can do for you specifically, requesting a call back where face-to-face interaction is preferred, as well as highlighting information on training up-and-coming events and latest news. We continue to enhance our website to maximise engagement for our members.”  

Visit the BMF website at www.bmf.org.uk.
The BMF website, launched in April 2017, has recently received the coveted Great Things Award for the second year running, in the annual awards and conference run by the worldwide software company ASI.