Blog

“PSST – Wanna buy a database”?

Andy Flinnby Andy Flinn of RDS Global
9 November 2017

Over the many years we all know that databases “migrate” from one company to another, by means of an errant employee moving jobs, friends who want to help, or accidental acquisition.

There aren’t many companies and if you’ve been in business a while, many business owners, who have not encountered the opportunity to increase your marketing reach by using “borrowed” data.

There may have been legal spats if the originator can be bothered, but once the data has been moved on, there is little that could be done in reality. All of this is about to change with the GDPR, due to come into force on 25 May 2018!

From this point on, it is a matter of law as to how data is controlled and moved, and it has a revenue earning (self-financing through fines) police force attached called the ICO (Information Commission Office) It will be their job to identify, prosecute and fine those delinquent businesses who flout the new laws.

Between now and 25 May 2018, all businesses have the legal responsibility to become compliant to the new rules and regulations, or suffer the unwanted attention of the ICO.

GDPR is broad and deep and changes the way that marketing can operate. Data is now the gold dust of your company, and the old ways of sharing ad hoc, are now over.

For Marketers, this presents a significant headache in the next 6 months. The need to identify the source of all existing data across the company, understand if they have legal permission to process this data post May 2018, and then tap dance through the maze of new regulations that control how marketing data is to be used, when, by whom, and for how long.

Your positive actions will lead to compliance, brand enhancement, customer confidence and retention and attraction of your staff across the business.

Get it wrong, or simply not be bothered, and the results could be catastrophic, as customers refuse to deal with a non-compliant supplier, staff lose confidence in their employer, and heaven forbid the ICO catch you out and punitive fines are levied.

This is not just about marketing data, it covers all data wherever it is in the business. However, marketing is the shop window of any business, and can drive a business success if data management is done correctly.

So, how will you respond to the next person who asks you ….. “psst – wanna buy a database”?  


For information about the BMF's GDPR and CYber Audit Service click here
“PSST – Wanna buy a database”? Read Andy Flinn's blog (RDS Global). Over the many years we all know that databases “migrate” from one company to another, by means of an errant employee moving jobs, friends who want to help, or accidental acquisitio

Transforming apprenticeships  

BMF Apprenticeships Plus
by Richard Ellithorne, BMF Membership Services Director
23 October 2017



BMF training ranges from formal Apprenticeships and sector-specific Diplomas, Degrees and a Masters Degrees in Merchant Leadership and Strategy, to on-line product knowledge and other specialist skills training.  

This is the time of year that many merchants look to take on apprentices, and the first apprentices to be placed by the BMF’s accredited Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) are amongst those starting work.   

As an ATA, the BMF acts as the formal employer of the apprentices who are placed with member companies. This removes potential administrative hurdles making it easy for BMF members to take on an apprentice in any job role.  

The BMF ATA is one of two new services we now offer through BMF Apprenticeships Plus. The other is a Levy Management service, which is proving an attractive option for members who directly employ one or more apprentices.     So how do the two schemes work?  

BMF ATA

This service is ideal for smaller companies who are not currently Levy payers.  However, it is also proving attractive to Levy paying organisations wishing to employ entry level apprentices, as it allows them to dedicate their own levy pot to upskilling existing staff.  

The BMF ATA qualifies as a levy payer so we can recruit and employ the apprentice on behalf of the host member. The ATA oversees all the administrative aspects of the apprenticeship, providing ongoing HR and training support, sourcing and contracting with training providers and funding agencies, and undertaking performance management reviews.  The ATA also applies for relevant incentive payments on the host’s behalf, which can be used to offset their costs, outlined below.  

The host company pays a 10% contribution towards the cost of the training course – normally between £20 and £50 – and a 10% management fee based on the apprentice’s monthly salary.    

Levy Management

As the name implies, this is aimed at larger companies who are Levy Payers that directly employ one or more apprentices.  While such companies are able to contract directly with a training provider, this year’s reformed system transfers ‘ownership’ of apprentices from training providers to employers. This is intended to improve the quality of training, but it will also put a great deal more responsibility on the employer.  

The BMF’s Levy Management Service essentially takes over these responsibilities.  For a small monthly fee, this service will source and contract the training provider and negotiate the cost of apprenticeship training as well as the cost of end point assessments.  It will also manage and monitor monthly payments to training providers and claim additional learning support and employment incentives on the employer’s behalf.  

The service can be used for both new apprentices and existing employees who are being upskilled.  If required, BMF Apprenticeship Plus can also help companies to recruit suitable apprentices.  

BMF Apprenticeship Plus is a hugely exciting initiative for the BMF.  Since launching in May, we are already in dialogue with over 40 member companies who are looking to develop their next generation of employees. By October 47 apprentices will have been recruited through this service, but this is just the start.  This first tranche of enquiries alone could lead to 200 new apprentices joining the industry.

To find out more about BMF Apprenticeship Plus or any aspect of BMF training, contact James.Spillane@bmf.org.uk or on 02456 854980.



This article appeared in the October edition of Professional Builders Merchant
BMF Membership Services Director Richard Ellithorne talks about transforming apprenticeships. This is the time of year that many merchants look to take on apprentices, and the first apprentices to be placed by the BMF’s accredited Apprenticeshi

The Brexit clock is ticking


by John Newcomb, BMF CEO
16 October 2017


John NewcombMore than a year since the country voted to leave the EU, the reality of how our business lives will be affected remains unclear.   At BMF Members’ Day in September, against the background of a ticking countdown clock, our focus was firmly on Building Beyond Brexit as our speakers, including Alok Sharma, the Housing & Planning Minister, gave us their insights into possible outcomes, the challenges that may arise and the opportunities they may bring.  

There is still clearly a lot of uncertainty but one thing is sure, and that’s the BMF’s intention to play a lead role in any changes to legislation, building regulations or customs and tariffs that may affect our Members.  Over the last 15 months our Policy and Public affairs work has risen up the Agenda.  We are regularly engaging with Government departments and ministers -  this is the first time, for example, that we have had a housing minister speak at Member’s Day.  

Since the General Election in June, and in preparation for the Autumn political party conference season, we have updated our Policy outlook document, which outlines our key asks from Government. For the second year running the BMF, this year in partnership with the NFRC, was a major sponsor of the Skills Summit held at the Lib Dem Conference in Bournemouth.  We also attended the Labour Party Conference in Brighton the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.  

We are fortunate that the BMF membership is at its highest for over 20 years.  The fact that we are the fourth largest construction trade body representing over 80% of the merchant sector means that our voice is not only being heard, our views are now actively sought.  

Core Values  

Whatever the challenges of Brexit, the BMF is committed to building a business that will continue to be relevant to members and in great shape to serve and support our industry.  

With four new non-executive directors appointed this year, we are in the process of building a new Board to lead the Federation through the changes facing our industry.  Their first task is to formally review our strategy and produce a new strategic roadmap for the next five years.  The roadmap will be delivered next summer but we have already started on the journey by signing off the three Core Values that will underpin the BMF’s vision for the future.   Our Core Values confirm that we are: 

Passionate about adding value to our Members’ businesses
Member focused and Member engaged
Personal, approachable and trustworthy  

Working together  

We understand the value of working together and the strength that this gives us.  Over the past year we have created 15 Regional Centres of Excellence throughout the UK.  This has been made possible by merchant and supplier members making their premises available for our use for regional meetings, training, and local press and public affairs events.  We are also indebted to our 11 Regional Chairs, busy merchants who give up their very valuable time to head each the BMF’s Regions, as well as the Sector Chairs who run each of our product category and job specific forums.  Without their support, these meetings simply couldn’t happen.  

The trend towards localisation will gain prominence in our future Policy and Public affairs strategy, as the UK moves towards more devolved powers, with the appointment of Policy and Public affairs consultants in Scotland and Northern Ireland during the next 12 months.  This follows the successful appointment of our Welsh public affairs consultant last summer.  

Over the next five years we are aiming for further growth and greater influence.  By 2020, we aim to have a 90% share of the Merchant sector with 500 Merchants and 250 Suppliers in membership, making us at the very least the third largest Trade Association in the construction industry.  But even more importantly, we want to be regarded by our members, our peers, and by those we seek to influence as one of the best and most professionally run Trade organisations in the UK.



This article appeared in the October 2017 edition of Builders' Merchants News

The Brexit clock is ticking by John Newcomb, BMF CEO. More than a year since the country voted to leave the EU, the reality of how our business lives will be affected remains unclear. At BMF Members’ Day in September, against the background of a

View from the Chair
by Peter Hindle MBE, BMF Chairman
15 October 2017

Peter Hindle MBEThe AGM of the BMF at Members’ Day not only makes the BMF accountable to members, it also provides a useful opportunity to remind ourselves of the role of the Board, ie  

  • To be prudent custodians of the BMF’s assets
  • To provide financial planning in support of the BMF’s goals and objectives
  • To provide timely and accurate financial statements  

This year, my fourth as Chair, we were able to present some impressive numbers.

Membership continues to grow at a rate of one new member a week, with merchants and supplier companies alike recognising the value of joining. But with more resources in place to support members, a high proportion of the Federation’s income now comes from training and events rather than subscriptions.  Add to this the growth in value of the BMF’s property and investment portfolios and the 2016/17 accounts show a cash surplus of £243,000.  

This presents the Federation with an opportunity to invest in new areas. As a company limited by guarantee, we do not want to retain a lot of profit when it could be used to benefit members.  Last year, for example, we invested £55,000 in a new CRM system, which is helping us to engage better with our members.  

I’ve said before that members are at the heart of the Federation but, in fact, they are in charge, and the Board is elected to carry out their wishes.  With this in mind, we would welcome ideas from members on what they would like to see the BMF doing next. What do you think we should invest in to help you?  Should we put more funds into existing campaigns, such as our Youth Recruitment campaign?  Should we upgrade operations, as we have done with the new CRM system?  Or should we explore a completely new area?    

Business plans  

The rest of Members’ Day focused on Building Beyond Brexit.  The programme brought together a variety of speakers all of whom offered a consistent underlying message. Their eminently sensible advice is to concentrate on things within your control, rather than worrying about what the outcome of Brexit may be.  

Ian McCafferty, who sits on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, said the economy was slowly normalising following the last financial crisis, but is now having to absorb the consequences of leaving the EU, the impact of which will again be spread out over a long period.  His advice was not to pay too much attention to short term reports of Brexit negotiations, where there is a lot of game-playing by all parties.  Instead, focus on the fundamentals of business and don’t get distracted.  

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which is promoting transitional arrangements as the key to a good Brexit, has studied the views and actions of businesses in eighteen different sectors. Nicole Sykes, the CBI’s Head of Brexit Negotiations, told us that 60% of business are carrying on as normal. Some sectors have looked at contingency plans if there is no deal, but they seem unwilling to put them in place just yet.  

The CBI clearly wants to see a smooth exit, with barrier free EU trade, access to talent and people at all levels of the labour market and stability and certainty in regulations, but they also see opportunities from change.  As Nicole said, disruption can be a good thing when it leads to new ideas.  

How we view and use IT may be an area that could benefit from disruption.  Microsoft’s James Akrigg pointed out that traditionally IT spend has been heavily weighted towards data storage and back up, and maintenance of hardware.  Far less is spent on technology that can create value from that data, but should we now explore how IT can improve the customer’s experience to benefit our business?  

Three very different speakers - Housing and Planning Minister, Alok Sharma, Jaydon Silver of retirement home specialist McCarthy & Stone, and Arthur McArdle, National Vice President of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) - focused on the strength of the housing market in their presentations.   

No-one can doubt that Brexit will continue to cause uncertainty for years rather than months. But trying to second guess the outcome of the current negotiations, is a fool’s errand.  A good business will survive and thrive no matter what comes to pass. Within our sector the ongoing need for new housing and housing upgrades looks set to continue, and we should concentrate on this as an opportunity for business growth.     


The article above featured in the October 2017 edition of Builders Merchants Journal
View from the Chair by Peter Hindle MBE, BMF Chairman, 15 October 2017 The AGM of the BMF at Members’ Day not only makes the BMF accountable to members, it also provides a useful opportunity to remind ourselves of the role of the Board, ie

The challenge continues    


John Newcombby John Newcomb, BMF Chief Executive
18 August 2017


Coming just days after the General Election, the theme of our recent Conference, Change Challenge and Opportunity, could hardly have been more appropriate. The feedback from delegates confirmed that the speakers’ thought-provoking presentations continued to resonate as the attendees returned to business back home.  

In times of rapid change, It is more important than ever for the industry to have opportunities like this to come together  to consider not only the issues affecting them today but also those about to come over the horizon.  It will be interesting to see what the talking points are next summer when the industry meets on the stunning shores of Lake Maggiore for the NMBS All Industry Conference 2018.  

Staying on track  

Over the last five years the BMF has developed and implemented a strategy that has seen positive benefits for every sector of the building materials supply industry.  The result has been a surge in membership amongst general and specialist merchants and their suppliers of every size and in every part of the country.  In July, we welcomed our 600th member, swelling our numbers to their highest since 1995.  

This is a significant milestone. As the fourth largest construction trade organisation in the UK our views are increasingly sought by policy makers at every level of government. Our voice is also receiving greater exposure in both mainstream and digital media, helping to build wider understanding of the merchant industry  

As our membership grows we need to ensure that the BMF continues to meet their needs.  The BMF Board is tasked with challenging the status quo and making sure that our strategy is fit for purpose.  BMF board members serve a maximum term of six years and three new directors attended their first board meeting in July, which, coincidentally, met for the first time in Northern Ireland.  As we move forward holding board meetings in our new BMF Regional Centres of Excellence around the UK will help us to keep in touch with the wider BMF membership.  

Our three new directors, Andrew Harrison of Travis Perkins plc, Shanker Patel of Lords Group and Ian Haldane of the Haldane Shiells Group, bring a wide range of experience to the board and their varied backgrounds are in keeping with the BMF’s broad membership. Ian and Shanker have both overseen major growth within family-owned businesses operating in distinct areas.  Andrew has served in senior roles in both a large regional operation and in the UK’s largest merchant business. In his latest role, as Deputy CEO of TP's Plumbing and Heating Division, he will also add to the BMF’s understanding of a fast-growing cohort within our membership.  

Celebrating success  

This year, for the first time, we partnered with the FMB’s Master Builder of the Year Awards, to identify some of the best merchants in the country.  The Master Builder of the Year Awards celebrate the work of small and medium sized builders who have demonstrated excellence both in their standard of work and their customer service.  Similarly, the BMF Builders Merchant Award turns the spotlight on local merchants who have focused on customer service to drive new business growth.   We were delighted with the response and the quality of the entries and along with the FMB, we had a hard task selecting the six regional winners, listed below:  

Midlands                            E H Smith
North                                  Milford Building Supplies
Northern Ireland              Haldane Fisher
South                                  Parker Building Supplies
Scotland                             Beatsons Building Supplies
Wales                                  LBS Builders Merchants  

We wish them all luck as they go forward to the national final.  The overall winner will be announced at an Award Ceremony on 15 September and the BMF will be there, along with the six finalists, to celebrate their success.  

This article appeared in the July/August 2017 edition of Builders' Merchants News
John Newcomb
The challenge continues. Read John Newcomb's latest column which appeared in BMN July/August 2017. Coming just days after the General Election, the theme of our recent Conference, Change Challenge and Opportunity, could hardly have been more appropr

Market resilience


John Newcombby John Newcomb, BMF Chief Executive
20 September 2017


Over the summer we have seen conflicting speculation in both the national and trade press on the general state of the economy and how the construction industry is faring.

For example, the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) recorded growth throughout the first half of the year, which on first viewing seems at odds with data issued by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for Q2.

Whereas the initial ONS Q2 results reported that construction output rose by just 0.4% on the same period last year and fell by 1.3% compared with Q1 2017, the BMBI found that builders merchants saw Q2 sales increase by 5.3% (when adjusted for there being two less trading days in the period) compared to 2016, with year-to-date sales figures 3.8% higher than the same period last year.

Initial ONS data is often revised – which may have happened by the time you read this.  On the other hand, it may not be too much at odds with the BMBI and other indicators. Most of the other major trade association Q2 reports – including CPA, FMB and NFB – found that order books are being sustained by private housing and RMI work – the mainstay of many a merchant’s business – while commercial sectors are falling behind. Even the relatively gloomy ONS statistics reported a record 5.1% increase in private housing in June over May.

Having spent much of August on the road visiting 20 or so BMF members in the SW and NE of England and in Scotland, I think the merchant sector can best be described as resilient.  I found striking similarities across all the merchants I spoke to.  Every one of them reported sales growth through the first half of the year – even those in parts of the country affected by adverse weather conditions in the early summer months. 

However, whilst these regional merchants have seen little evidence of a slow down in overall sales they are reporting more price increases, an inevitable result of the falling exchange rate, and shortages in certain product areas. 

Future forecasts

Attempting to forecast the future is notoriously unreliable, but it would be foolish not to consider the possibility of tougher trading conditions as we move into 2018. Indeed, BMF Members’ Day this month is dedicated to exploring possible scenarios for the building industry in a post Brexit economy. We have lined up a wide range of speakers to give their views including a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, the CBI’s Brexit expert and the FMB’s Vice President. 

We are also delighted to welcome the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Alok Sharma.  Mr Sharma is responsible for the government’s housing and home ownership policy as well as the planning policy which underpins it.  Other important parts of his portfolio include estates regeneration and regulation of the private rented sector.  With so much merchant business driven by housing, this session is not to be missed.

 

Next generation

The turn of the academic year is traditionally the time to take on apprentices. In May, the BMF formed an accredited Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA).  As an ATA, the BMF acts as the formal employer of the apprentices, who are placed with member companies. By acting as the employer, the BMF ATA removes potential administrative hurdles making it easy for BMF members to take on an apprentice in any job role.

This is a hugely exciting initiative. We are currently in dialogue with over 40 member companies who are looking to develop their next generation of employees. This first tranche of enquiries alone could lead to 200 new apprentices joining the industry. 

Twenty one apprenticeships have already been confirmed, including the BMF’s own Level 2 Customer Service Practitioner.  We wish every one of them well in their future careers.



This article appeared in the September 2017 edition of Builders' Merchants News
Market resilience. Read John Newcomb, BMF Chief Executive's latest blog which appeared in BMN September. Over the summer we have seen conflicting speculation in both the national and trade press on the general state of the economy and how the co

The European clock is ticking  

by Brett Amphlett, BMF Policy and Public Affairs’ Manager
8 September 2017

Brett AmphlettAs MPs returned to Westminster this week, it's a good time to outline the situation about leaving the European Union. Brett Amphlett, BMF Policy and Public Affairs’ Manager, highlights the positions being taken below and explains what the BMF has been doing since the Prime Minister triggered the EU Article 50 clause. 

The main players

The formal negotiations began on 19 June. The UK team is led by David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, who was Minister for Europe in John Major’s Government. Mr Davis also chaired the Public Accounts Committee when Tony Blair was the Prime Minister.  

The EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, was the European Commissioner responsible for financial services and the internal market before taking up his current role. In France, Mr Barnier was elected to the National Assembly and served as a government minister including as French Foreign Minister. The European Parliament has a say in ratifying whatever proposals are hammered out. Its Chief Negotiator is Guy Verhofstadt MEP who is a former Belgian Prime Minister.  

Negotiations  

The Conservative Government set out its proposals and the direction it wants to take in the Brexit White Paper published on 2 February. Following the General Election, the minority Conservative Government gave more details about legislative changes it wants to make; negotiating ‘red lines’; and future legal, tax and funding arrangements. Most of the proposals are well-known: (a) taking back control of our laws; (b) controlling immigration; (c) maintaining employment rights and consumer and environmental protection; and (d) trade agreements with Europe and other markets.  

The European Commission in Brussels has set out the collective views of the other 27 EU Member States. In essence, the negotiating positions can be boiled down, as follows:  

UK
  • leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union entirely
  • taking Britain out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg·
  • no longer paying billions of pounds in EU financial contributions
  • bringing down net migration to tens of thousands
  • protecting the rights of British people who currently live and work in Europe (and vice-versa)
  • “no deal is better than a bad deal”.  

EU
  • Britain cannot stay in either Single Market or Customs Union without sticking to ‘four freedoms’ laid down in EU treaties - namely freedom of movement of goods, people, services and capital
  • UK must pay a financial ‘divorce’ settlement - a figure of €75 billion is often mentioned
  • negotiations must be done in sequence, not in parallel - talks on Britain’s departure and a financial settlement to be concluded first before the EU will talk about a future trade deal
  • deciding on method of resolving EU-UK disputes post-Brexit - i.e. European Court of Justice
  • prioritising the unique position between Northern Ireland and the Republic to avoid a ‘hard border’ and the reintroduction of border controls and customs’ checkpoints
  • protecting the rights of Europeans who currently live and work in UK (and vice-versa).  

Legislation  

In July, ministers published the EU Withdrawal Bill - often called “Great Repeal Bill” - as draft legislation for Parliament to scrutinise now that MPs are back. The aim is to pass a new Act of Parliament to incorporate existing EU Regulations and Directives into UK law so they apply after Brexit. Ministers also propose to give themselves the power to change secondary legislation.  

In the Queen’s Speech (21 June), 8 new pieces of draft legislation were announced. The most relevant to BMF members are a Trade Bill, a Customs Bill and an Immigration Bill:  

  • Trade Bill aims to boost the UK as a global trading nation; protect UK firms from unfair trading practices; and allow an independent trade policy to operate the day after Brexit
  • Customs Bill aims to introduce a customs’ regime to replace the EU Customs Union we currently belong to; allow for future deals with the EU and other world markets; and impose new British indirect taxes (current VAT will no longer apply because it is an EU tax)
  • Immigration Bill aims to abolish EU law on free movement and bring migration policy for EU people back under UK law to control the number of people coming here from Europe.



This article appeared in the Autumn 2017 edition of the BMF's One Voice magazine
As MPs returned to Westminster this week, it's a good time to outline the situation about leaving the European Union. Brett Amphlett, BMF Policy and Public Affairs’ Manager, highlights the positions being taken below and explains what the BMF has bee

Apprenticeships Levy and support for BMF members  

by Richard Ellithorne, BMF Membership Services Director
7 April 2017


The aim of the Apprenticeship Levy is to transfer the focus of training onto employers needs so as to improve the quantity of apprenticeships in England and enable employees across the workforce, from entry level 2 to post graduate level, to access tailored training to benefit the employer’s business. If not used within 24 months of payment your contributions to the levy will be lost. The Levy came into effect in April 2017. Please contact the BMF for more details on the levy and how it may affect your business on 02476 854980.  

BMF Apprenticeships Plus Service  


The BMF Apprenticeships Plus Service is recognised as a most effective and cost efficient way to train members of your workforce, management team and even directors. This initiative is a tried and tested way to recruit new staff, re-train or upskill existing staff and retain valued members of your team through tailored work-based training programmes.  

BMF Apprenticeships lead to nationally recognised qualifications. Merchants can utilise the BMF Apprenticeship Scheme to access funding for at least 90% of the cost of the training in England, with further availability of funding in Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland. The minimum duration of an entry level BMF Apprenticeship is 12 months, depending on the job role and the qualification.  

Some of the favoured qualifications for merchants include: • Trade Supplier (written and tailored by BMF Members and others to mirror precisely the merchant role) • Customer Service • Team Leading • Warehousing and Storage • Business Administration • Management  

Whilst the BMF Apprenticeship initiative provides funded and co-funded qualifications from entry level 2 through higher levels, foundation degrees, full degrees and even post graduate and masters levels the majority uptake is through the two entry level apprenticeship grades:  

Intermediate Level  

Apprenticeships
Apprentices work towards an entry level 2 qualification (equivalent to 5 GCSE’s at A-C) which involves tailored learning with BMF appointed experienced and industry competent training providers across every area of the UK. 

Achievement in England is measured through final exam style assessments, again delivered by specialist BMF approved assessors. Achievement in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland follows more of a continuous assessment format. New entrants or existing employees will often commence or progress to higher level apprenticeships.  

Advanced Level Apprenticeships

Apprentices may work towards a Level 3 qualification. The more commonly chosen advanced level funded and co-funded qualifications include wholesaling, management, IT, logistics, finance, sales and procurement, but here are many more to choose from by simply asking your BMF advisor.  

Progression from an advanced level apprenticeship could include a funded qualification at Level 4 or the BMF Diploma in Merchanting.  

As BMF Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes, most of the training is ‘on the job’. You must give your apprentices an induction into their role and provide on-the-job training. You are also responsible for paying your apprentices’ wages; for a minimum of 30 hours per week for the duration of the Apprenticeship; and providing training support.  

The BMF Apprenticeships Plus programme is managed by the BMF through a consortium of the best providers in the UK and with particular expertise in the merchanting sector. All BMF provision is delivered by providers graded by OFSTED as good or outstanding. BMF Apprenticeships Plus will work with you, the employer, to:  

• Help you decide which Apprenticeship is right for your business and your apprentice. • Explain the way that Apprenticeships work and source funding for a minimum of 90% of the cost. (please note that engagement of an apprentice at 16-18 years old (up to 24 years old in certain circumstances) will enable you to claim an employment grant of £1,000, which will greatly exceed the maximum 10% employer contribution. • Agree a training plan with you and your apprentice. • Help you recruit an apprentice or support your existing staff into Apprenticeships • Manage the training, evaluation and end point assessments. • Ensure that national quality standards are met and deliver integrated, coherent training.

BMF Apprenticeships Plus will ensure that builders’ merchants will benefit to the fullest extent from government funding targeted at apprentice training. The size of the contribution is a maximum of 10% of the course cost spread over the length of the course (typically £25 to £40 a month over a 12 to 15 month term).  

Training is free to employers with less than 50 employees for apprentices aged 16-18 years old. Employment grants of £1,000 are claimed for all apprentices aged under 19 and for others with care or learning needs up to 24 years old.  

At February 2017 the apprentice minimum wage for 16 to 18 year olds is £3.50 per hour and applies to working time and time spent training, albeit this rate increases annually. The rate increases incrementally with age. Employers are free to pay above the new wage and many do so due to regional employment pressures or simply in order to encourage the best possible candidate.  

If an existing employee is on a higher wage when commencing their apprenticeship, the employer must continue to pay that for the remainder of the training or until the apprentice becomes eligible for the full national minimum wage.  

Apprenticeships are subject to eligibility and funding rules, which are different for each country in the UK. In all cases, please contact by phone or email or email BMF Apprenticeships Plus for information.  


27 February 2017
Apprenticeships
Training is free to employers with less than 50 employees for apprentices aged 16-18 years old. Employment grants of £1,000 are claimed for all apprentices aged under 19 and for others with care or learning needs up to 24 years old.

BMF Young Merchant Trip to Milan, Italy

by James Spillane, BMF Training & Development Manager
20 July 2017


BMF Young Merchant trip to Mapei in MilanOn 29 June to 2 July, 13 BMF Young Merchants were hosted by Mapei group out in Milan to celebrate their 80th Birthday.

Day one saw an excellent welcome by Mapei in their headquarters in Milan. The group were welcomed by Roberto Vigo (Export Manager) and Birgit Brink from Marketing. Next followed a guided tour around Mapei Laboratories by Gino Kuijpers, Coatings Product Manager speaking to experts in each product range along the way. Products are examined and fine-tuned by state of the art machinery and high power microscopes to constantly improve existing products and innovate new ones. This is evident by the fact they have 9000 employees, of which 12% work in R&D. After this we visited Mapei’s production plant in Mediglia. This was a vast site which could have warranted the title of Mapei Town. More than 25,000 tons of products are shipped each day, 4.5 million tons per year. Here the group saw first-hand the production of cement, coatings, paint, adhesives and much more. Figure 1 YM Group at Mapei HQ.

Before finishing for the day we stopped off at 4BILD builders merchants at Cusano Milanino. The group had an opportunity to see how an Italian Builders Merchants premises and yard operated. We sat through a presentation from the owner of this particular merchant who explained 4BILD’s structure, something quite unique to Italy currently but common-place in the UK. 4BILD comprises of 11 franchises that pool together their buying power for more favourable prices on materials – very similar to Buying Group activity here at home but something that is unnatural for Italy whose merchants are owned by traditional family units who operate in an insular manner, wary of their competitors. 4BILD have taken the plunge and reaped the rewards having taken on board the ethos of “we are stronger together”.

In the evening we ate at Guyot restaurant which specialises in Milanese Risotto which was thoroughly enjoyed by all of the group.  

On the second day, we had an early start venturing out to Vila Del Balbianello on Lake Como. As the coach crawled through the hills to our destination we were treated to staggering views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Once we arrived at the Villa, which has seen films such as James Bond – Casino Royale and Star Wars filmed in its’ grounds, the group were in awe at the beauty of the place. Interestingly, Mapei were responsible for the coatings restoration on the building.

Following this, the coach dropped us on in Milan City Centre for free time where most of the group ate in the restaurants nestled between the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the Duomo Cathedral. Dinner was served in the top floor of on the Galleria where we had cocktails made to order and a five course Italian feast.

A special thanks should be extended to Dave Jordan (Business Development Manager), Stefanie Bennett (Marketing Manager) and Phil Breakspear (Managing Director) of Mapei UK for pulling together a great trip in such a meticulous and enjoyable way. A great trip that will last long in the memory of the BMF Young Merchants who attended.              
BMF Training & Development Manager James Spillane reports on the BMF Young Merchants' trip to Milan in June 2017, hosted by Mapei

Making the Best of British

by Dougal Driver, CEO, Grown in Britain
3 July 2017


Grown in BritainWhatever your views on Brexit, it’s brought about some unusual prospects for sales. Many builders’ merchant timber yards are stocked with carcassing, fencing and decking, amongst other products, grown here at home. Yet most are not making the best of the sales opportunity to flag up its British origins to customers. At Grown in Britain, we’ve recently agreed a strategic partnership with the BMF to help merchant members take advantage of the sales opportunities presented by assured British-grown timber.

Timber from Britain already has a price advantage over imports. But it’s alignment with your builder customers’ values, giving them an option to buy timber that supports our economy, which gives added incentive to buy. Make sure you bring this to their attention. Merchants who supply local authorities will be aware of their need to demonstrate ‘social value’ in their supply chains. Timber that’s grown in Britain returns value to communities in rural economies across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There are other opportunities for merchants too. Timber is architects’ material of the moment, and builders entering for the FMB’s Master Builder of the Year increasingly are using higher value timber products. At present, much of that business goes direct from the architect or builder to the producer. Pro-active merchants, who understand architects’ aspirations and can locate and supply alternative species like Chestnut, Oak, Ash, Sycamore, Douglas Fir or Larch, could carve themselves a significant slice of that business. Grown in Britain can help you make the right connections. As our first contribution to our strategic partnership with BMF, we are making available to BMF merchant members a 26-page guide to alternative British wood species. Please contact our offices for a copy, stating you’re a BMF merchant member.

We’d also appreciate your help. We’re starting an annual survey on British-grown timber supply. Click this link, and, in the time it takes to drink your morning mug of tea or coffee, your answers will have made a valuable contribution to the British timber industry . Thank you.

You’re welcome to join us for Grown in Britain Week, 9-15 October – a good time to highlight your British-grown timber products. Keep up to date via @GrowninBritain on Twitter and make sure you have a copy of our merchant business guide to building business with timber that’s Grown in Britain.
Making the Best of British by Dougal Driver, CEO, Grown in Britain. Whatever your views on Brexit, it’s brought about some unusual prospects for sales. Many builders’ merchant timber yards are stocked with carcassing, fencing and decking, amongst o

Prospering in changing times  


John Newcombby John Newcomb, BMF Managing Director
25 June 2017

Nothing is more certain in life than change.  This time last year, the Brexit vote hadn’t happened and David Cameron was still Prime Minister.  Much has changed since then and will continue to do so. I’m writing this in the week that the major political parties publish their election manifestos.  By the time you read it, we will know the colour and shape of our new government.  

Whatever the result, we will continue to press the government of the day to commit to three key policies supported by BMF members, namely  

  • action on air quality, where the last Government’s air quality proposals missed a golden opportunity to modernise the use of larger vehicles in cities 
  • progress towards a custom agreement based on low or zero tariffs after Britain leaves the European Union  
  • a commitment to ensure that the construction industry has skilled people in place to keep Britain building.  

By now we may also be clearer on the type of Brexit we are heading towards, which will inevitably bring about more change. I am a great believer that out of change and challenge comes opportunity and I’m sure that this is a message that delegates at this month’s BMF Conference in Budapest will hear repeated by our speakers.  

Successful businesses are the ones that can adopt and adapt to change and use it as a vehicle to improve their business performance.  They are also the businesses that are in touch with every facet of their industry.  Having a strong trade body at the centre of that industry is equally important, and the BMF has a clearly defined strategy that places the needs of our members at the heart of our business.  

Supporting our members 

As we look to the future, BMF members will be able to tap into 5 core benefits in key business areas.  

The first is training, in particular the launch of our new Apprenticeship Training Agency, which is set to triple the number of Apprenticeship in the Merchant sector by 2020.  

The second focuses on the development of digital technology and the trade’s continuous thirst for instant information. Here we are driving through the launch of our new Member Engagement system and increasing the number of training courses and forums focusing on digitisation in the merchant sector.  

The third is the provision of accurate market data. Adding to our established BMBI monthly sales data, we will be launching a new forecasting model to provide a more accurate view of the industry's future.  

The fourth core benefit is the continuation of our many networking events, not only Conference and Members Day but also smaller-scale product category and job specific forums that bring suppliers and merchants together to form ever closer working relationships.  

Finally, we are adding value to our merchant members’ business by driving builders, plumbers, installers and decorators to their branches through the new BMF App and through advertising programmes with key strategic partners such as the FMB, the NFRC and the CIPHE. 

Strong partnerships  

The BMF looks for strategic partners to support its work and benefit members. Our latest agreement is with the Institute of Builders Merchants (IoBM). The aims of the two organisations are well aligned. While the BMF represents merchant and supplier companies, the IOBM represents the individuals whose skills and professionalism help make those companies succeed.  Our new strategic partnership will see the two bodies working together more closely to develop the professionalism of the industry.  

The IoBM will promote learning and development across the builders merchants sector, ensure the availability of suitable training and continue to fund training for deserving individuals in support of their personal development. Wherever possible, that training will be provided by the BMF and the IoBM will independently accredit the BMF’s training courses. Applications for IoBM funding will now be open to employees from all BMF member companies, both merchant and supplier  

While the two bodies will operate as separate entities, the BMF will support and promote the IoBM, offering Affiliate membership free of charge to all BMF member company employees.

For the health and wealth of our industry, the dual support of a relevant and progressive trade body and a strong professional institute promoting lifelong learning will offer a great way forward.     
                

This article appeared in the June 2017 edition of Builders' Merchants News

John Newcomb
Prospering in changing times. John NewcombNothing is more certain in life than change. This time last year, the Brexit vote hadn’t happened and David Cameron was still Prime Minister. Much has changed since then and will continue to do so. I’m w

Sticking to the plan

by Peter Hindle MBE, Chairman of the Builders Merchants Federation
8 June 2017 


Peter Hindle MBE, BMF ChairmanOne of my key roles as BMF chairman is to help shape our strategic plan and then to ensure that it is implemented.  

I believe we have a good strategy in place and have introduced a number of excellent initiatives that clearly benefit BMF members, but I also have a duty to pose the question, “what could we be doing better?”  Essentially, that means measuring performance against a number of KPIs.  

In that regard, to someone like me who has spent a lifetime in business a trade association can seem a strange beast.  Its purpose is not to make a profit, which means that one of the main KPIs of the business world is straight out of the window, so for each activity we have to start by asking, “what does good look like”?    

I also have to consider that “good” may not look the same to everyone. The purpose of a trade association is to serve its members but if those members are quite diverse – and the BMF is a broad church – we know we have to satisfy many different requirements.  It’s a truism that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but if the BMF is to continue to succeed, we need to engage most of our members most of the time.  

To help us get to know all of our members better we are investing over £130,000 in a CRM system, which comes on stream later this year, that will help us engage more fully with every member.

It should also help us to form a better understanding not only of what they perceive as “good” but also what they want from a “great” trade association – which is what the BMF aspires to.  

Member engagement stands at number one on my key criteria of success, so I would also like to invite members to write to me personally with their views. I’d like to hear what you think we are doing well, but even more importantly I want to know what you think we could do better. To start that conversation I’d like to throw in a couple of discussion points.  

I want to see members attending the regional meetings, conferences, training courses, specialist forums etc. that the BMF runs on their behalf. If you have attended one or more, then tell me why you value them. At the Forums, for example, do we offer the right balance of education, discussion and networking? And if you haven’t yet attended any BMF events, we also need to understand why that is.  

To make it easier for members to travel to meetings and training events, we are currently opening BMF Regional Centres of Excellence around the country.  We have been extremely fortunate that a dozen members have already agreed to open their facilities to host BMF events on a regular basis, but we are still looking at ways to ensure that these excellent facilities are put to good use.  On this subject, I would like your views on who should take responsibility for arranging and running those events.  Do you think that that the Regional Chairmen and other members in each area should drive the content they want to see, or would your prefer the BMF’s own Regional Managers and head office team to decide what is required?  

There are, of course, a great many other ways in which the BMF works to support members and I’d like to hear your views on those too.  

The BMF is your trade association and I want to see it deliver value to all members.  Please help us to understand what “good”, or better still, “great” looks like to you. By working together we can make your BMF work for you.  

Contact Peter at: peter.hindle@bmf.org.uk    


This article also appeared in the April 2017 issue of Builders Merchants Journal

Member engagement stands at number one on my key criteria of success, so I would also like to invite members to write to me personally with their views. I’d like to hear what you think we are doing well, but even more importantly I want to know what

Why PPC can serve as an effective digital marketing tactic for Builders Merchants

by David Watling, Head of Sales, Pauley Creative
8 June 2017


David Watling, Pauley CreativeAs the world of digital marketing continues to expand and evolve, the competition to rank well in Google Search becomes fiercer year on year. As a result of this, builders’ merchants must be flexible with their marketing tactics, in order to maximise the online visibility of their products and services.

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is now dominating page one of Google, particularly with the removal of the advertising sidebar, meaning that PPC ads take up the majority of space in Google search. This means that you really need to be investing in paid advertising campaigns in order to stand a chance against your competition.

You may be sat there wondering, “how can I ensure PPC advertising works for my business?” or “is the investment in PPC even worth my time and money?”

If so, this blog post is for you. It will address five simple reasons for considering PPC advertising in the first place, alongside tips to ensure you align paid search campaigns against measurable marketing goals.

Without further ado let’s start with the 5 key reasons for employing PPC…

1) PPC is highly measurable

‘Pay-per-click’ advertising means that you only pay out for those all-important click-throughs, meaning that you know exactly where your budget is being spent. Unlike more traditional print-based advertising, where you simply spend money and hope for the best, PPC enables you to keep track by producing a result for every penny that’s spent. This means you can be flexible with your approach depending upon the outcome of each campaign.

2) Gain quality clicks through to your website

Ranking within both organic (un-paid search) and paid search doubles your opportunity for click-throughs to your E-commerce platform, and therefore doubles the chance of these leading to a conversion. The more listings you can gain on page one of Google search, the more legitimate and attractive your building products will look to online visitors.

3) Support your organic (un-paid) search

Ranking highly on page one of Google search, and trying to figure out why you’ve been positioned there in the first place, involves in-depth research on your keywords, as well as a thorough review of your website content. However, PPC displays results very quickly, allowing you to understand what keywords have worked straight away to bring the right prospects to your website, and ultimately gives you more control over your rankings. Whilst ranking highly in organic search is crucial, PPC is considered to support your overall search rankings with immediate effect.

4) Control your advertising costs

How much you are willing to spend on PPC is entirely up to you, and is flexible for you to change at any time. Obviously the less you spend, the less likely you are to see a huge turnaround; however, this will again depend upon the competitiveness for that particular keyword within the construction industry. Always set your PPC budget to meet your own business needs.

5) Provide support to campaigns

PPC is there to support a range of marketing campaigns, whether it’s a product promotion, website launch or a company rebrand. You can even feature campaigns overnight in order to get campaigns well underway as quickly as possible. Paid search ultimately helps to drive revenue and increase online visibility, becoming a consistent support system to any promotion or marketing campaign.

Aligning PPC advertising to your business goals


Now that we’ve discussed some of the key reasons for implementing PPC as an effective marketing tactic, it’s also important to emphasise that you’ll only reap the benefits of PPC with an effective strategy in place…

…and there’s no such thing as an effective strategy without specific marketing goals. Creating measurable goals will allow you to understand what keywords are required to improve the performance of your E-commerce platform.

When defining goals, you first need to consider what results you want from a website visitor clicking your ad and being directed to a landing page.

For builders' merchants the goal may be to increase sales, enhance brand awareness or improve traffic levels.

Consider the following…

  • Do you need to be driving awareness and sales for a new product?
  • Do you need to boost sales for an existing product type?
  • Are you looking to increase the number of product enquiries on your platform?
  • At what pace do you expect to see an increase in sales?
  • What percentage increase in sales is realistic for your business

Whilst it is crucial at this stage to be setting clear and quantifiable goals, they must also be flexible for industry changes, seasonal changes and services offered on your Ecommerce platform.

Benchmark from previous performance

At this point, you may be wondering where to actually begin when it comes to setting accurate PPC goals; this is where you’ll need to analyse data using Google Analytics to measure the previous performance levels of certain products. This will help you to determine what quantifies as realistic goals for your individual business.

  • In what months did we sell the most of Product A?
  • In what months did we sell the least of Product B?
  • What products had the least sales over the year?
  • What products are lacking online visibility?
  • On a monthly basis, how many people are aware of our brand and directly typing the website address into search?

Establish Short- & Long-Term Goals

It’s important to establish short-term as well as long-term goals for your business, in order to provide realistic stepping-stones towards achieving your desired outcome. This not only makes the long-term goal easier to achieve, but it also provides your team with the motivation to achieve it.

A short-term goal may be assigned on a weekly or monthly basis, such as increasing sales and revenue from X to Y; this short-term goal would be directly targeting people who are interested in your product and service in order to increase the chance of them buying from your Ecommerce site.

However, whilst sales could increase for a particular keyword overnight, they will naturally fluctuate depending on factors such as seasons or product launches. In particular, new accounts with little to no previous data take longer to see an increase in sales, as it takes time to optimise the campaign and review keyword performance.

This is when you need a long-term goal plan, typically aimed towards your businesses’ overall profit growth. Whilst most businesses intend to make a high profit as their long-term goal, very few actually measure how exactly they’ll get there, or what steps are needed to achieving this success.

Analyse your goal campaigns

Whilst creating a goal plan for your PPC campaign should always be the first step towards implementing an effective strategy, analysing the progression of these goals is just as important.

If your short and long-term goals aren’t being met, you need to dig into why this was and how the issue can be resolved. If they are being met, identify the tactics used to get there so that you can do more of what works and less of what isn’t.

Summary

The learning process to PPC is continuous, and as you begin to collect data for your paid keywords, the strategy may start to change.

Ensure you’re flexible with the strategy required to achieving these goals as the online behaviour of your visitors changes over time. And remember - without setting goals, you’ll spend a significant amount of money with little results to show for it.

For more information on implementing an effective PPC strategy for your construction business, download our PPC eBook for Ecommerce websites here.  
David Watling, Pauley Creative
As the world of digital marketing continues to expand and evolve, the competition to rank well in Google search becomes fiercer year on year. As a result of this, builders’ merchants must be flexible with their marketing tactics, in order to maximise

The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and National Living Wage 2016  


In the April 2016 edition of “Business News”, the BMF told its members:      


National Living Wage comes into force   The new mandatory National Living Wage has come into force, requiring employers to pay workers aged 25 and over at least £7.20 an hour. It is expected to give 1.3 million workers an immediate pay rise.          

In the Summer 2016 edition of “One Voice” the BMF published a 1½ page article on the NMW and NLW:  



Rewarding your staff: The National Living Wage  

The arrival of the new National Living Wage has been widely trailed in newspaper, television and radio adverts. But in the weeks since it became law, hidden consequences have begun to emerge.  

Several high-street businesses have been pilloried by press and politicians when changes they made to staff terms and conditions became public. It began when a whistleblower at B&Q leaked a letter to “The Times”. In it, management is alleged to have threatened to dismiss staff unless they sign a new, less-generous contract. Brett Amphlett, BMF Policy & Public Affairs Manager, discusses the main issues for merchants:  

In his July 2015 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced he would legislate to impose a new National Living Wage, over and above the National Minimum Wage. As the name suggests, it is all about living standards and aims to boost the pay of entry-level workers. It is part of complex, but concerted, moves by the Conservatives to reconfigure the system of welfare and benefits payments and business taxation and tax credits.  

Rates and eligibility  

The key determinant is the age of your staff: If they are under 25, you must pay the National Minimum Wage.  If they are aged 25 and over, you must pay the National Living Wage.  

National Minimum Wage (NMW)  

There are four hourly rates in law and they are increased annually on 1 October for all staff. Today, BMF members ought to be paying:  

  • 16 to 17-year old rate = £3.87
  • Youth Development Rate for those aged 18-20 = £5.30
  • Adult Rate for those aged 21-24 = £6.70
  • Apprentice Rate = £3.30  

The Apprentice Rate applies to:  

  • all apprentices in their first year and
  • 16 to 18-year olds in any year of the apprenticeship.  

Otherwise, apprentices are entitled to the rate that relates to their age. If you provide staff accommodation, it can be taken into account at a daily rate of £5.35. These hourly rates will rise again on 1 October in line with above-inflation increases announced in the March 2016 Budget.  

National Living Wage (NLW)  

The Government has introduced a new hourly rate for all full and part-time staff aged 25 and over. The National Living Wage with effect from 1 April 2016, at a starting rate of £7.20. It is, in effect, a 50p premium on the NMW Adult Rate and is now the top rate of the five statutory rates. Over time, ministers will ratchet the NLW up every April so that it reaches over £9 by 2020 - in other words, a legally-enforceable 6% year-on-year pay increase.  

Annual uprating is due to be aligned in April 2017 because at present, NMW increases occur in October, whereas NLW occur in April. This is sensible, but it means that until next April, there are different dates for increases, depending on staff age.  

Enforcement  

The Conservatives are determined to see through these changes that were in the General Election Manifesto. The HMRC will enforce rates more vigorously than before, with harsher penalties. Employers found guilty:  

  • will have to pay arrears owed, plus a penalty, up to a maximum penalty of £20,000 per worker
  • are likely to be disqualified from being a company director for 15 years
  • will automatically be ‘named and shamed’ by the Government.  

HMRC’s enforcement budget is being doubled and a new team established to bring criminal prosecutions against firms that do not pay the correct rate. Given other policies like protecting the term ‘apprenticeship’ from misuse by dodgy training providers and the Apprenticeships Levy, the HMRC is bound to focus on enforcing rates and rules for apprentices. NB: after apprentices aged 24+ finish their first year, they become entitled to the National Living Wage (£7.20), not the Apprentice Rate (£3.30).  

The Minimum Wage was flagship Labour Party policy at the 1997 General Election and became law in April 1999. The Conservatives have now gone further and ministers have begun a complex set of policy, tax and regulatory changes (all at the same time) to boost productivity. Mr Osborne wants to correct an anomaly where taxpayers subsidise employers who pay low wages.  

To offset the impact, the Chancellor is exempting small firms from National Insurance Contributions and cutting Corporation Tax to 17% by April 2020. Mr Osborne argues that higher wages lead to greater spending that would ultimately lead to the creation of more jobs in the wider economy. But others are not so sure. The Office for Budget Responsibility warns of the hidden cost of ‘wage spill-over’. This is where employers have to boost other staff wages to maintain pay bands - especially if they have no choice, for example, if set out in employment contracts.  

A furore caused by businesses that withdrew benefits like Sunday and Bank Holiday pay, overtime, and time off in lieu for unsociable hours has erupted at Westminster. A 130,000-strong petition calling for B&Q to ditch its changes led to a House of Commons’ debate. MPs revealed tactics used by firms to lessen the impact by clawing back allowances or premiums.  

The Government is taking a firm line and is putting pressure on companies. On ITV, the Chancellor warned that by cutting perks, firms are not acting in the spirit of the law and they should abide by their responsibilities. Replying to the debate, Business Minister Nick Boles urged MPs to tell him of firms not upholding the spirit of the law, so ministers can embarrass employers and apply pressure so they live up to their legal obligations.  

To conclude, the BMF has no problem with the National Living Wage. The last BMF Remuneration Survey showed that average wages for merchants’ staff are £16,000- 20,000 pa. For managers, salaries go up to £30,000 or beyond. BMF members tend to offer better terms and conditions than DIY retailers. When the B&Q leak broke, the BMF wrote to “The Times” to give a more balanced view of our supply chain. We emphasised that BMF merchants have a much bigger share of the market than B&Q – approximately 4,500 outlets compared to their 750 stores.  

No-one fully knows what the impact will be in relation to pay, productivity and employment. The Government admits it is likely to mean job losses. The National Living Wage will raise the pay of entry-level workers to (as yet) untested levels. One aspect is certain: if you already pay over the legal minimum, the NLW will catch up with you. Higher pay you offer today will be eroded over time and no longer act as a premium to retain or recruit staff. For more information, please go to www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage or www.livingwage.gov.uk.                     


The official HM Government webpage that gives statutory guidance to employers is at: https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage  
The National Living Wage

The Bribery Act 2010


The Bribery Act 2010In the April 2011 edition of “Business News”, the BMF told members:  


Bribery Act 2010

The Bribery Act comes into force on 1 July 2011. A Briefing '10 Things Every Employer Should Know About the Bribery Act 2010' was prepared by the BMF's Employment Adviser and is available from brett.amphlett@bmf.org.uk.


Click here for the official HM Government webpage that gives statutory guidance to employers.
The Bribery Act 2010

Cyber Insurance - Bluefin


Cyber insuranceby Richard Ellithorne, Membership Services Director
18 April 2017


Following recently publicised high profile breaches of IT security and with threats of abuse of data increasing, there has never been a more pertinent time to consider cyber insurance.  

Businesses are increasingly having to manage the emerging threat of cyber crime and breaches and loss of intellectual property are now a board-level concern rather than an issue for IT managers to resolve in isolation. Criminals are increasingly using ‘non-targeted’ organisations to reach more desirable targets (a small supplier used to access a larger organisation) and fines for companies suffering data breaches are expected to increase when EU Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect in the UK– potentially reaching up to 5% of turnover for a privacy breach.  

Even seemingly robust networks are vulnerable, due to the difficulty in monitoring and negating all internal and external breaches:  

90% of large organisations (81% in 2014) and 74% (60% in 2014) of small businesses experienced security breaches in the past year*
31% of victims discovered the breach internally; 69% were notified by an external entity*
229 days was the median number of days taken to discover threats on a victim’s network before detection**  

* Source: HM Government 2015 Security Breaches survey
** Source: Mandiant M-Trends 2015 – A view from the frontline  

Purchasing trends
Historically, many organisations have chosen not to buy cyber insurance for a variety of reasons including premium levels, the misconception that standard business policies exclude cyber risks and the feeling that their cyber exposure is minimal or non-existent.  

Anticipated changes to UK Data Protection legislation, however, are expected to increase the take-up of UK cyber insurance products. A number of additional insurers are now entering the market, with some particularly focussing on providing more affordable policies for SMEs.  

Cyber insurance is increasingly recognised as a risk mitigation tool, ensuring that financing and support are available to IT teams in the event of a serious breach.  

Summary of the cover available
Insurer offerings differ; however the following table broadly outlines the covers available.  

Own losses
Cyber insurance: own losses


Third party losses  
Cyber insurance: third party losses


In summary, every company has a cyber risk– regardless of size or industry. Bluefin would be delighted to carry out an analysis of your own cyber risk and recommend appropriate, cost effective insurance options.  

For more information on cyber insurance products or Insurance Plus, please contact Juliette Honnor at Bluefin: juliette.honnor@bluefingroup.co.uk or call 020 8781 9289
Cyber insurance - Bluefin. Following recently publicised high profile breaches of IT security and with threats of abuse of data increasing, there has never been a more pertinent time to consider cyber insurance. Businesses are increasingly havi

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