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Featured Events

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




BMF Members' Day Annual Conference and Awards

16-17 September 2020

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BMF Members' Day Annual Conference and Awards

16-17 September 2020

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BMF Members' Day Annual Conference and Awards

16-17 September 2020

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BMF Members' Day Annual Conference and Awards

16-17 September 2020

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BMF Members' Day Annual Conference and Awards

16-17 September 2020

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BMF Members' Day Annual Conference and Awards

16-17 September 2020

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BMF Members' Day Annual Conference and Awards

16-17 September 2020

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BMF Members' Day Annual Conference and Awards

16-17 September 2020

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BMF Members' Day Annual Conference and Awards

16-17 September 2020

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BMF Members' Day Annual Conference and Awards

16-17 September 2020

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Bob Beaver Memorial Shoot
9 July 2020
 
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Bob Beaver Memorial Shoot
9 July 2020
 
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Bob Beaver Memorial Shoot
9 July 2020
 
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Bob Beaver Memorial Shoot
9 July 2020
 
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Bob Beaver Memorial Shoot
9 July 2020
 
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Bob Beaver Memorial Shoot
9 July 2020
 
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Bob Beaver Memorial Shoot
9 July 2020
 
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Bob Beaver Memorial Shoot
9 July 2020
 
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Bob Beaver Memorial Shoot
9 July 2020
 
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Bob Beaver Memorial Shoot
9 July 2020
 
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Mastermerchant
10-12 July 2020

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10-12 July 2020

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10-12 July 2020

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Latest News



Here are the latest news stories from the BMF

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1


28 May 2020

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020. Drilling down regionally identifies a greater impact of social distancing and lockdown measures in London and the South East than in other parts of the country.

While all eleven regions had lower sales across the quarter compared with Q1 2019 (-6.7% nationally), the South East excluding London (-10.7%) and London (-9.8%) were the worst affected.  At the other end of the scale, Scotland (-0.6%) and West Midlands (-2.7%) were least affected.  

Although Q1 2020 benefitted from five extra trading days over Q4 2019 national sales were still marginally lower (-0.8%) with London (-6.5%) the weakest performer.  However, six regions outperformed the national average, led by East Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside, which were both up by 2.7%. 

The quarter’s poor performance was exacerbated in March when the full extent of the government measures to supress the transmission of Covid-19 came into play, with all regions reporting lower sales compared to March 2019.  Once again London (-23.1%) and South East excluding London (-18.5%) were the worst affected regions, while Wales (-8.5%) and Scotland (-10.1%) recorded the smallest falls.

Taking a longer term view, the Moving Average Trend, which compares the last 12 months to March 2020 with the 12 month period prior to that, saw total merchant sales down -2.9% worsening from -0.9% a month ago.  Scotland was the strongest performer during this period, with London and South East excluding London doing least well.

Commenting on the regional picture, BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “The performance of builders merchants’ sales in different parts of the country offers a clear reflection of the regional health of construction.  From the Q1 results we can see that London and the South East were the first regions to be significantly affected by Covid-19, even prior to the lockdown.  The next Quarter’s results will tell us if those regions will also be in the vanguard of the recovery.”
 
Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1
Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020.

Industry comes together to minimise product shortages


26 May 2020

Construction Leadership CouncilAs government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to build confidence, dispel rumours and minimise supply and demand constraints.

The CLC’s Product Availability Group – jointly chaired by the BMF and the Construction Products Association (CPA) – meets weekly on-line, bringing together key manufacturers, merchants, Tier 1 contractors, SME builders and housebuilders to understand current stock levels, actual or potential pinch points. and when and how any issues are being addressed.

The picture that emerged last week suggests that there is a good supply of the majority of building materials and products. The Brick Development Council confirmed that there are 480 million clay bricks ready for immediate delivery from 56 factories around the country. Within the supply chain there is also depth of stock in plumbing and heating, general lightside and electrical products. Increased plaster production should see stock levels restored by the end of next month. However, with some quarries still to open, the group has noted regional variations in the availability of aggregates.

Peter Caplehorn, Chief Executive of the CPA, said: “The meetings are proving invaluable in shedding light on the availability of different product groups and the circumstances and business reasons behind their status, as well as the consequences, including a small but critical number of product shortages which are now being resolved with increasing production.

“Ultimately, what we’ve helped facilitate is a frank but collegial discussion around business planning that has helped us share the facts, dispel rumours and uncertainty, and plot a way forward to ‘re-open’ the industry.”

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “This Group has been instrumental in addressing some difficult supply and demand issues since the early days of the lockdown when most businesses chose to close and only ‘essential’ projects were the focus of attention.

“Since then, we’ve been pleased to see confidence growing and nearly all of our merchants re-opening, builders returning, site output increasing, and manufacturers ramping up capacity in line with new orders. All of this is being done with new operating procedures in place to ensure that safety is paramount.”

“I’m encouraged that, in the face of unprecedented circumstances, our industry is working so collaboratively to address the challenges we are facing and get Britain building again.”
As government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to

Construction trade body welcomes COVID-19 plans


26 May 2020

A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

According to the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), the plans set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday (21 May) will enable its members to gear-up to meet demand when construction works are reintroduced. 
 
BMF members operate from 420 branches and 26 manufacturing sites across Scotland. 

John Newcomb, chief executive of the BMF, said: “The phased approach set out by the First Minister will enable our members to schedule their activities accordingly.

“They will be able to plan ahead and meet the demands for building products and materials, once the construction industry returns to work in the future.”

Ninety per cent of BMF merchant members are currently open or partially open, to support essential works, with restrictions in place to ensure safety first.

Mr Newcomb added: “We have already produced new Branch Operating Guidelines for builders’ merchant staff to follow in the office and trade counter, for customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and for tool hire during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

“This 18-page document covers procedures for phone, click/call and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into shop or products.

“The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is a member of Scotland’s Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV), which is in regular contract with industry colleagues and the Scottish Government.
 
A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

Builders Merchants Q1 sales confirm Coronavirus effect


20 May 2020

Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Government measures to reduce transmission of the virus.

Figures for Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019, show a decline of -6.7% in total builders’ merchants’ sales during the first quarter of this year.  

Year on Year sales were down in all three months, falling by -2.6% in January 2020 compared with January 2019, and by -1.3% in February 2020 compared with February 2019.  Social distancing and lockdown measures introduced during March led to the largest decline of the quarter with sales down by -15.1% on March 2019.  March sales were also down by
-3.5% on February 2020.

Comparing the Q1 performance of different product categories vs Q1 2019, 
Tools (-12.7%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-11.1%) reported the biggest falls, with Plumbing, Heating & Electrical down -7.4%, Heavy Building Materials down -6.5%, Decorating down -5.1% and Kitchens & Bathrooms down -4.1%.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the one outstanding performance was in Workwear and Safetywear up by +24.2%.

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. 

The quarterly BMBI figures paint a slightly less negative picture than Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) first quarterly estimates for Q1 2020, which showed Private Housing RMI work – a mainstay of builders’ merchants’ sales – down by 14.6% compared with Q1 2019 , having dropped 18.6% in March 2020 vs March 2019 and by -8.6% vs February 2020.  The decline in the first quarter reported by the ONS is the largest since data was first published in Q2 2012.

Commenting on the BMBI results, John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation said: 

“In the current circumstances no-one will be surprised by the results for Q1, with confidence dropping as coronavirus spread across the world to the UK and many building sites and builders’ merchants shutting down completely when the lockdown took effect on 24 March.  

“Sites are now beginning a gradual return to work whilst maintaining enhanced safe working practices.  Although this demonstrates the construction industry’s desire to assist in the recovery of the UK economy, with contractors reporting a slump in new orders and reports of projects being postponed it is far too early to say how long that recovery will take.”
 
Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade at GfK added:

“With at least one week of trading lost, it comes as no surprise that March saw a noticeable decrease in sales. The true effect of the lockdown will only become known once April data becomes available, with the path to recovery being a long journey with no clear end destination.”

“The next few months will be a key indicator as to how well the industry will adapt to a new normal, with there being an acceptance that online merchant sales will see further growth going forward.”
 
Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s BMBI reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1


28 May 2020

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020. Drilling down regionally identifies a greater impact of social distancing and lockdown measures in London and the South East than in other parts of the country.

While all eleven regions had lower sales across the quarter compared with Q1 2019 (-6.7% nationally), the South East excluding London (-10.7%) and London (-9.8%) were the worst affected.  At the other end of the scale, Scotland (-0.6%) and West Midlands (-2.7%) were least affected.  

Although Q1 2020 benefitted from five extra trading days over Q4 2019 national sales were still marginally lower (-0.8%) with London (-6.5%) the weakest performer.  However, six regions outperformed the national average, led by East Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside, which were both up by 2.7%. 

The quarter’s poor performance was exacerbated in March when the full extent of the government measures to supress the transmission of Covid-19 came into play, with all regions reporting lower sales compared to March 2019.  Once again London (-23.1%) and South East excluding London (-18.5%) were the worst affected regions, while Wales (-8.5%) and Scotland (-10.1%) recorded the smallest falls.

Taking a longer term view, the Moving Average Trend, which compares the last 12 months to March 2020 with the 12 month period prior to that, saw total merchant sales down -2.9% worsening from -0.9% a month ago.  Scotland was the strongest performer during this period, with London and South East excluding London doing least well.

Commenting on the regional picture, BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “The performance of builders merchants’ sales in different parts of the country offers a clear reflection of the regional health of construction.  From the Q1 results we can see that London and the South East were the first regions to be significantly affected by Covid-19, even prior to the lockdown.  The next Quarter’s results will tell us if those regions will also be in the vanguard of the recovery.”
 
Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1
Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020.

Industry comes together to minimise product shortages


26 May 2020

Construction Leadership CouncilAs government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to build confidence, dispel rumours and minimise supply and demand constraints.

The CLC’s Product Availability Group – jointly chaired by the BMF and the Construction Products Association (CPA) – meets weekly on-line, bringing together key manufacturers, merchants, Tier 1 contractors, SME builders and housebuilders to understand current stock levels, actual or potential pinch points. and when and how any issues are being addressed.

The picture that emerged last week suggests that there is a good supply of the majority of building materials and products. The Brick Development Council confirmed that there are 480 million clay bricks ready for immediate delivery from 56 factories around the country. Within the supply chain there is also depth of stock in plumbing and heating, general lightside and electrical products. Increased plaster production should see stock levels restored by the end of next month. However, with some quarries still to open, the group has noted regional variations in the availability of aggregates.

Peter Caplehorn, Chief Executive of the CPA, said: “The meetings are proving invaluable in shedding light on the availability of different product groups and the circumstances and business reasons behind their status, as well as the consequences, including a small but critical number of product shortages which are now being resolved with increasing production.

“Ultimately, what we’ve helped facilitate is a frank but collegial discussion around business planning that has helped us share the facts, dispel rumours and uncertainty, and plot a way forward to ‘re-open’ the industry.”

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “This Group has been instrumental in addressing some difficult supply and demand issues since the early days of the lockdown when most businesses chose to close and only ‘essential’ projects were the focus of attention.

“Since then, we’ve been pleased to see confidence growing and nearly all of our merchants re-opening, builders returning, site output increasing, and manufacturers ramping up capacity in line with new orders. All of this is being done with new operating procedures in place to ensure that safety is paramount.”

“I’m encouraged that, in the face of unprecedented circumstances, our industry is working so collaboratively to address the challenges we are facing and get Britain building again.”
As government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to

Construction trade body welcomes COVID-19 plans


26 May 2020

A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

According to the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), the plans set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday (21 May) will enable its members to gear-up to meet demand when construction works are reintroduced. 
 
BMF members operate from 420 branches and 26 manufacturing sites across Scotland. 

John Newcomb, chief executive of the BMF, said: “The phased approach set out by the First Minister will enable our members to schedule their activities accordingly.

“They will be able to plan ahead and meet the demands for building products and materials, once the construction industry returns to work in the future.”

Ninety per cent of BMF merchant members are currently open or partially open, to support essential works, with restrictions in place to ensure safety first.

Mr Newcomb added: “We have already produced new Branch Operating Guidelines for builders’ merchant staff to follow in the office and trade counter, for customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and for tool hire during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

“This 18-page document covers procedures for phone, click/call and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into shop or products.

“The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is a member of Scotland’s Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV), which is in regular contract with industry colleagues and the Scottish Government.
 
A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

Builders Merchants Q1 sales confirm Coronavirus effect


20 May 2020

Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Government measures to reduce transmission of the virus.

Figures for Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019, show a decline of -6.7% in total builders’ merchants’ sales during the first quarter of this year.  

Year on Year sales were down in all three months, falling by -2.6% in January 2020 compared with January 2019, and by -1.3% in February 2020 compared with February 2019.  Social distancing and lockdown measures introduced during March led to the largest decline of the quarter with sales down by -15.1% on March 2019.  March sales were also down by
-3.5% on February 2020.

Comparing the Q1 performance of different product categories vs Q1 2019, 
Tools (-12.7%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-11.1%) reported the biggest falls, with Plumbing, Heating & Electrical down -7.4%, Heavy Building Materials down -6.5%, Decorating down -5.1% and Kitchens & Bathrooms down -4.1%.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the one outstanding performance was in Workwear and Safetywear up by +24.2%.

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. 

The quarterly BMBI figures paint a slightly less negative picture than Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) first quarterly estimates for Q1 2020, which showed Private Housing RMI work – a mainstay of builders’ merchants’ sales – down by 14.6% compared with Q1 2019 , having dropped 18.6% in March 2020 vs March 2019 and by -8.6% vs February 2020.  The decline in the first quarter reported by the ONS is the largest since data was first published in Q2 2012.

Commenting on the BMBI results, John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation said: 

“In the current circumstances no-one will be surprised by the results for Q1, with confidence dropping as coronavirus spread across the world to the UK and many building sites and builders’ merchants shutting down completely when the lockdown took effect on 24 March.  

“Sites are now beginning a gradual return to work whilst maintaining enhanced safe working practices.  Although this demonstrates the construction industry’s desire to assist in the recovery of the UK economy, with contractors reporting a slump in new orders and reports of projects being postponed it is far too early to say how long that recovery will take.”
 
Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade at GfK added:

“With at least one week of trading lost, it comes as no surprise that March saw a noticeable decrease in sales. The true effect of the lockdown will only become known once April data becomes available, with the path to recovery being a long journey with no clear end destination.”

“The next few months will be a key indicator as to how well the industry will adapt to a new normal, with there being an acceptance that online merchant sales will see further growth going forward.”
 
Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s BMBI reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

New furlough plans throw lifeline to protect multi-billion pound building supply chain


12 May 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

The BMF has been actively pressing for a more flexible programme from the Government, as a member of the Construction Leadership Council, which is co-ordinating the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

According to BMF chief executive, John Newcomb, the nation’s multi-billion pound builders’ merchant and building material supply sector would have been severely hampered to help get Britain building without some flexibility in the system.

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive, said: “An incredible 80 per cent of all building products used in the construction of homes and buildings are manufactured in the UK. We need to protect this home-grown sector, which creates vital jobs in manufacturing, construction and the service sector.

“The extension to the furlough and the new levels of flexibility it brings have thrown us a lifeline that will enable us to do that.

“We are delighted that the Government has listened to our representations through the Construction Leadership Council. With our members now able to plan ahead, livelihoods will be protected, with the number one priority being safety.”

 The federation says the industry is well-prepared for the restart of construction and has already produced new branch operating guidelines  for its members to follow, which set a blueprint for procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Newcomb added: “We are preparing for the construction industry to get back on site. Over the past three weeks, since the publication of our new branch operating guidelines, we have seen increasing numbers of merchants safely re-opening or expanding operations to support their trade customers.

“It is clear the Government now sees a return to work for the construction industry as a priority. We are prepared for that, with the safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers paramount. The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is also working in a specialist group to ensure confidence in the building products supply chain, to meet increasing demand in the re-opening period.

It is working with the Construction Products Association (CPA) to monitor the manufacturing and distribution of their respective members, in order to meet the needs of housebuilders, contractors and SME builders. They are heading up the Product Availability Group, set-up by the Construction Leadership Council.
The BMF says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

New website shows how industry helped in the fight against Covid-19


28 April 2020

Construction Response WebsiteThe Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19. 

Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020, merchants and building materials producers, along with businesses from across the construction industry have been playing their part in fighting the disease, providing vital resources to those on the frontline, and safeguarding construction workers and local communities.

Today sees the launch of a website www.constructioncovid19response.co.uk  that showcases examples of these responses, with a focus on four themes:

1. Building NHS Capacity
2. PPE Donations
3. Safeguarding Workers
4. Helping Communities

The site has been prepared as part of the work of the Construction Leadership Council Covid-19 Taskforce, comprising representatives from the industry’s trade bodies, including the Builders Merchants Federation, client organisations and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Commenting on the new website, Andy Mitchell CBE, co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said:

“No-one can have any doubt that the true heroes of the pandemic are those who work day in, day our in our NHS and care system, risking their lives to help others.

“But I have also been proud to see the response of the UK construction industry, which has come together to support our NHS, change the way we work, and support the communities in which we live.

“The delivery of the NHS Nightingale hospitals within a matter of weeks has required 24 hour working at all levels of the UK construction supply chain, and a level of co-operation that has shown UK construction at its very best.

“Industry has not only stepped up to the plate in a time of crisis, but has donated millions of pieces of much-needed PPE to hospitals, care-homes, and other front-line workers.

“We have also moved at speed to implement safe working practices in response to Covid-19 so where work can be done safely it can continue.

“Industry and Government’s priority now must be a long-term recovery plan for our sector, which will be at the very heart of the UK’s economic revival in the months and years ahead.”

BMF CEO, John Newcomb added: “A number of BMF members are already featured in case studies on the website but we know many more in our sector have stepped up magnificently both to change the way they are working and to support the NHS and their local communities.

“We are seeking more case studies to showcase the commitment and dedication of our industry through the work you are doing to overcome this crisis.”

If you have a great story to tell, please email details to john.newcomb@bmf.org.uk.
Construction Response Website
The BMF is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19.

BMF launches video to support Covid-19 Branch Operating Guidelines


BMF Branch Operating Guidelines video The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has produced a video info-graphic outlining the key elements of the practical advice provided in their Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19 document published last week.

Like the full document, the video provides safe operating guidelines for builders’ merchants branch operations while Covid-19 restrictions continue.  The guidelines cover 5 key areas - head/branch office and trade counter environments, customer collections, supplier deliveries, deliveries to construction sites and tool hire.

The guidelines incorporate Public Health England (PHE) guidance on social distancing, hygiene and cleaning procedure and are endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council, which has itself published Site Operating Procedures to facilitate safe working on building sites.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount.  The Branch Operating Guidelines in the video and the more detailed document show how risks can be managed with safe systems of work during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The video-infographic can be viewed on the BMF’s Covid-19 online information hub , which is keeping members up to date with the latest advice and developments relating to the building material sector throughout the crisis.
BMF Branch Operating Guidelines video
The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has produced a video info-graphic outlining the key elements of the practical advice provided in their Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19 document published last week.

BMF publishes Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19


BMF Branch operating guidelines17 April 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has published Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue.

The 18-page document sets out guidelines and additional precautions to follow in the office, at trade counters, during customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and tool hire. 

The Guidelines incorporate Public Health England (PHE) social distancing and hygiene procedures and have been prepared in consultation with merchants, Highways England and the Construction Leadership Council, which has itself published Site Operating Procedures for use on all building sites to facilitate safe working.

Two-metre social distancing is absolute between merchant staff, customers and suppliers - and information is included on detailed cleaning routines and mandatory compliance to avoid transmission of the virus.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said:

“The Government has made it clear that merchants are a vital part of the construction supply chain and, if it is safe to do so, it is important they are able to support the construction industry as work continues and more sites reopen.

“We have worked with the industry to develop a new operating model to minimise the risk of virus transmission. The new model centres around trade customers using call and collect, click and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into branches.

“The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount and every merchant must make the best decision for their individual business. We hope these new Guidelines will show how risks can be managed if these safe systems of work are in place and remain effective until further notice.”

The BMF website includes a list showing the current operational status of merchant and supplier members during the crisis. The BMF has asked all members to advise them of any changes to ensure the list is accurate and up to date.
The BMF has published Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue.

New furlough plans throw lifeline to protect multi-billion pound building supply chain


12 May 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

The BMF has been actively pressing for a more flexible programme from the Government, as a member of the Construction Leadership Council, which is co-ordinating the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

According to BMF chief executive, John Newcomb, the nation’s multi-billion pound builders’ merchant and building material supply sector would have been severely hampered to help get Britain building without some flexibility in the system.

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive, said: “An incredible 80 per cent of all building products used in the construction of homes and buildings are manufactured in the UK. We need to protect this home-grown sector, which creates vital jobs in manufacturing, construction and the service sector.

“The extension to the furlough and the new levels of flexibility it brings have thrown us a lifeline that will enable us to do that.

“We are delighted that the Government has listened to our representations through the Construction Leadership Council. With our members now able to plan ahead, livelihoods will be protected, with the number one priority being safety.”

 The federation says the industry is well-prepared for the restart of construction and has already produced new branch operating guidelines  for its members to follow, which set a blueprint for procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Newcomb added: “We are preparing for the construction industry to get back on site. Over the past three weeks, since the publication of our new branch operating guidelines, we have seen increasing numbers of merchants safely re-opening or expanding operations to support their trade customers.

“It is clear the Government now sees a return to work for the construction industry as a priority. We are prepared for that, with the safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers paramount. The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is also working in a specialist group to ensure confidence in the building products supply chain, to meet increasing demand in the re-opening period.

It is working with the Construction Products Association (CPA) to monitor the manufacturing and distribution of their respective members, in order to meet the needs of housebuilders, contractors and SME builders. They are heading up the Product Availability Group, set-up by the Construction Leadership Council.
The BMF says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

New website shows how industry helped in the fight against Covid-19


28 April 2020

Construction Response WebsiteThe Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19. 

Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020, merchants and building materials producers, along with businesses from across the construction industry have been playing their part in fighting the disease, providing vital resources to those on the frontline, and safeguarding construction workers and local communities.

Today sees the launch of a website www.constructioncovid19response.co.uk  that showcases examples of these responses, with a focus on four themes:

1. Building NHS Capacity
2. PPE Donations
3. Safeguarding Workers
4. Helping Communities

The site has been prepared as part of the work of the Construction Leadership Council Covid-19 Taskforce, comprising representatives from the industry’s trade bodies, including the Builders Merchants Federation, client organisations and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Commenting on the new website, Andy Mitchell CBE, co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said:

“No-one can have any doubt that the true heroes of the pandemic are those who work day in, day our in our NHS and care system, risking their lives to help others.

“But I have also been proud to see the response of the UK construction industry, which has come together to support our NHS, change the way we work, and support the communities in which we live.

“The delivery of the NHS Nightingale hospitals within a matter of weeks has required 24 hour working at all levels of the UK construction supply chain, and a level of co-operation that has shown UK construction at its very best.

“Industry has not only stepped up to the plate in a time of crisis, but has donated millions of pieces of much-needed PPE to hospitals, care-homes, and other front-line workers.

“We have also moved at speed to implement safe working practices in response to Covid-19 so where work can be done safely it can continue.

“Industry and Government’s priority now must be a long-term recovery plan for our sector, which will be at the very heart of the UK’s economic revival in the months and years ahead.”

BMF CEO, John Newcomb added: “A number of BMF members are already featured in case studies on the website but we know many more in our sector have stepped up magnificently both to change the way they are working and to support the NHS and their local communities.

“We are seeking more case studies to showcase the commitment and dedication of our industry through the work you are doing to overcome this crisis.”

If you have a great story to tell, please email details to john.newcomb@bmf.org.uk.
Construction Response Website
The BMF is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19.

BMF launches video to support Covid-19 Branch Operating Guidelines


BMF Branch Operating Guidelines video The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has produced a video info-graphic outlining the key elements of the practical advice provided in their Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19 document published last week.

Like the full document, the video provides safe operating guidelines for builders’ merchants branch operations while Covid-19 restrictions continue.  The guidelines cover 5 key areas - head/branch office and trade counter environments, customer collections, supplier deliveries, deliveries to construction sites and tool hire.

The guidelines incorporate Public Health England (PHE) guidance on social distancing, hygiene and cleaning procedure and are endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council, which has itself published Site Operating Procedures to facilitate safe working on building sites.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount.  The Branch Operating Guidelines in the video and the more detailed document show how risks can be managed with safe systems of work during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The video-infographic can be viewed on the BMF’s Covid-19 online information hub , which is keeping members up to date with the latest advice and developments relating to the building material sector throughout the crisis.
BMF Branch Operating Guidelines video
The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has produced a video info-graphic outlining the key elements of the practical advice provided in their Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19 document published last week.

BMF publishes Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19


BMF Branch operating guidelines17 April 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has published Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue.

The 18-page document sets out guidelines and additional precautions to follow in the office, at trade counters, during customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and tool hire. 

The Guidelines incorporate Public Health England (PHE) social distancing and hygiene procedures and have been prepared in consultation with merchants, Highways England and the Construction Leadership Council, which has itself published Site Operating Procedures for use on all building sites to facilitate safe working.

Two-metre social distancing is absolute between merchant staff, customers and suppliers - and information is included on detailed cleaning routines and mandatory compliance to avoid transmission of the virus.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said:

“The Government has made it clear that merchants are a vital part of the construction supply chain and, if it is safe to do so, it is important they are able to support the construction industry as work continues and more sites reopen.

“We have worked with the industry to develop a new operating model to minimise the risk of virus transmission. The new model centres around trade customers using call and collect, click and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into branches.

“The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount and every merchant must make the best decision for their individual business. We hope these new Guidelines will show how risks can be managed if these safe systems of work are in place and remain effective until further notice.”

The BMF website includes a list showing the current operational status of merchant and supplier members during the crisis. The BMF has asked all members to advise them of any changes to ensure the list is accurate and up to date.
The BMF has published Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue.

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1


28 May 2020

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020. Drilling down regionally identifies a greater impact of social distancing and lockdown measures in London and the South East than in other parts of the country.

While all eleven regions had lower sales across the quarter compared with Q1 2019 (-6.7% nationally), the South East excluding London (-10.7%) and London (-9.8%) were the worst affected.  At the other end of the scale, Scotland (-0.6%) and West Midlands (-2.7%) were least affected.  

Although Q1 2020 benefitted from five extra trading days over Q4 2019 national sales were still marginally lower (-0.8%) with London (-6.5%) the weakest performer.  However, six regions outperformed the national average, led by East Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside, which were both up by 2.7%. 

The quarter’s poor performance was exacerbated in March when the full extent of the government measures to supress the transmission of Covid-19 came into play, with all regions reporting lower sales compared to March 2019.  Once again London (-23.1%) and South East excluding London (-18.5%) were the worst affected regions, while Wales (-8.5%) and Scotland (-10.1%) recorded the smallest falls.

Taking a longer term view, the Moving Average Trend, which compares the last 12 months to March 2020 with the 12 month period prior to that, saw total merchant sales down -2.9% worsening from -0.9% a month ago.  Scotland was the strongest performer during this period, with London and South East excluding London doing least well.

Commenting on the regional picture, BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “The performance of builders merchants’ sales in different parts of the country offers a clear reflection of the regional health of construction.  From the Q1 results we can see that London and the South East were the first regions to be significantly affected by Covid-19, even prior to the lockdown.  The next Quarter’s results will tell us if those regions will also be in the vanguard of the recovery.”
 
Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1
Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020.

Industry comes together to minimise product shortages


26 May 2020

Construction Leadership CouncilAs government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to build confidence, dispel rumours and minimise supply and demand constraints.

The CLC’s Product Availability Group – jointly chaired by the BMF and the Construction Products Association (CPA) – meets weekly on-line, bringing together key manufacturers, merchants, Tier 1 contractors, SME builders and housebuilders to understand current stock levels, actual or potential pinch points. and when and how any issues are being addressed.

The picture that emerged last week suggests that there is a good supply of the majority of building materials and products. The Brick Development Council confirmed that there are 480 million clay bricks ready for immediate delivery from 56 factories around the country. Within the supply chain there is also depth of stock in plumbing and heating, general lightside and electrical products. Increased plaster production should see stock levels restored by the end of next month. However, with some quarries still to open, the group has noted regional variations in the availability of aggregates.

Peter Caplehorn, Chief Executive of the CPA, said: “The meetings are proving invaluable in shedding light on the availability of different product groups and the circumstances and business reasons behind their status, as well as the consequences, including a small but critical number of product shortages which are now being resolved with increasing production.

“Ultimately, what we’ve helped facilitate is a frank but collegial discussion around business planning that has helped us share the facts, dispel rumours and uncertainty, and plot a way forward to ‘re-open’ the industry.”

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “This Group has been instrumental in addressing some difficult supply and demand issues since the early days of the lockdown when most businesses chose to close and only ‘essential’ projects were the focus of attention.

“Since then, we’ve been pleased to see confidence growing and nearly all of our merchants re-opening, builders returning, site output increasing, and manufacturers ramping up capacity in line with new orders. All of this is being done with new operating procedures in place to ensure that safety is paramount.”

“I’m encouraged that, in the face of unprecedented circumstances, our industry is working so collaboratively to address the challenges we are facing and get Britain building again.”
As government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to

Construction trade body welcomes COVID-19 plans


26 May 2020

A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

According to the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), the plans set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday (21 May) will enable its members to gear-up to meet demand when construction works are reintroduced. 
 
BMF members operate from 420 branches and 26 manufacturing sites across Scotland. 

John Newcomb, chief executive of the BMF, said: “The phased approach set out by the First Minister will enable our members to schedule their activities accordingly.

“They will be able to plan ahead and meet the demands for building products and materials, once the construction industry returns to work in the future.”

Ninety per cent of BMF merchant members are currently open or partially open, to support essential works, with restrictions in place to ensure safety first.

Mr Newcomb added: “We have already produced new Branch Operating Guidelines for builders’ merchant staff to follow in the office and trade counter, for customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and for tool hire during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

“This 18-page document covers procedures for phone, click/call and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into shop or products.

“The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is a member of Scotland’s Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV), which is in regular contract with industry colleagues and the Scottish Government.
 
A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

Builders Merchants Q1 sales confirm Coronavirus effect


20 May 2020

Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Government measures to reduce transmission of the virus.

Figures for Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019, show a decline of -6.7% in total builders’ merchants’ sales during the first quarter of this year.  

Year on Year sales were down in all three months, falling by -2.6% in January 2020 compared with January 2019, and by -1.3% in February 2020 compared with February 2019.  Social distancing and lockdown measures introduced during March led to the largest decline of the quarter with sales down by -15.1% on March 2019.  March sales were also down by
-3.5% on February 2020.

Comparing the Q1 performance of different product categories vs Q1 2019, 
Tools (-12.7%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-11.1%) reported the biggest falls, with Plumbing, Heating & Electrical down -7.4%, Heavy Building Materials down -6.5%, Decorating down -5.1% and Kitchens & Bathrooms down -4.1%.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the one outstanding performance was in Workwear and Safetywear up by +24.2%.

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. 

The quarterly BMBI figures paint a slightly less negative picture than Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) first quarterly estimates for Q1 2020, which showed Private Housing RMI work – a mainstay of builders’ merchants’ sales – down by 14.6% compared with Q1 2019 , having dropped 18.6% in March 2020 vs March 2019 and by -8.6% vs February 2020.  The decline in the first quarter reported by the ONS is the largest since data was first published in Q2 2012.

Commenting on the BMBI results, John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation said: 

“In the current circumstances no-one will be surprised by the results for Q1, with confidence dropping as coronavirus spread across the world to the UK and many building sites and builders’ merchants shutting down completely when the lockdown took effect on 24 March.  

“Sites are now beginning a gradual return to work whilst maintaining enhanced safe working practices.  Although this demonstrates the construction industry’s desire to assist in the recovery of the UK economy, with contractors reporting a slump in new orders and reports of projects being postponed it is far too early to say how long that recovery will take.”
 
Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade at GfK added:

“With at least one week of trading lost, it comes as no surprise that March saw a noticeable decrease in sales. The true effect of the lockdown will only become known once April data becomes available, with the path to recovery being a long journey with no clear end destination.”

“The next few months will be a key indicator as to how well the industry will adapt to a new normal, with there being an acceptance that online merchant sales will see further growth going forward.”
 
Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s BMBI reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

New furlough plans throw lifeline to protect multi-billion pound building supply chain


12 May 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

The BMF has been actively pressing for a more flexible programme from the Government, as a member of the Construction Leadership Council, which is co-ordinating the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

According to BMF chief executive, John Newcomb, the nation’s multi-billion pound builders’ merchant and building material supply sector would have been severely hampered to help get Britain building without some flexibility in the system.

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive, said: “An incredible 80 per cent of all building products used in the construction of homes and buildings are manufactured in the UK. We need to protect this home-grown sector, which creates vital jobs in manufacturing, construction and the service sector.

“The extension to the furlough and the new levels of flexibility it brings have thrown us a lifeline that will enable us to do that.

“We are delighted that the Government has listened to our representations through the Construction Leadership Council. With our members now able to plan ahead, livelihoods will be protected, with the number one priority being safety.”

 The federation says the industry is well-prepared for the restart of construction and has already produced new branch operating guidelines  for its members to follow, which set a blueprint for procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Newcomb added: “We are preparing for the construction industry to get back on site. Over the past three weeks, since the publication of our new branch operating guidelines, we have seen increasing numbers of merchants safely re-opening or expanding operations to support their trade customers.

“It is clear the Government now sees a return to work for the construction industry as a priority. We are prepared for that, with the safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers paramount. The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is also working in a specialist group to ensure confidence in the building products supply chain, to meet increasing demand in the re-opening period.

It is working with the Construction Products Association (CPA) to monitor the manufacturing and distribution of their respective members, in order to meet the needs of housebuilders, contractors and SME builders. They are heading up the Product Availability Group, set-up by the Construction Leadership Council.
The BMF says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

New website shows how industry helped in the fight against Covid-19


28 April 2020

Construction Response WebsiteThe Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19. 

Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020, merchants and building materials producers, along with businesses from across the construction industry have been playing their part in fighting the disease, providing vital resources to those on the frontline, and safeguarding construction workers and local communities.

Today sees the launch of a website www.constructioncovid19response.co.uk  that showcases examples of these responses, with a focus on four themes:

1. Building NHS Capacity
2. PPE Donations
3. Safeguarding Workers
4. Helping Communities

The site has been prepared as part of the work of the Construction Leadership Council Covid-19 Taskforce, comprising representatives from the industry’s trade bodies, including the Builders Merchants Federation, client organisations and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Commenting on the new website, Andy Mitchell CBE, co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said:

“No-one can have any doubt that the true heroes of the pandemic are those who work day in, day our in our NHS and care system, risking their lives to help others.

“But I have also been proud to see the response of the UK construction industry, which has come together to support our NHS, change the way we work, and support the communities in which we live.

“The delivery of the NHS Nightingale hospitals within a matter of weeks has required 24 hour working at all levels of the UK construction supply chain, and a level of co-operation that has shown UK construction at its very best.

“Industry has not only stepped up to the plate in a time of crisis, but has donated millions of pieces of much-needed PPE to hospitals, care-homes, and other front-line workers.

“We have also moved at speed to implement safe working practices in response to Covid-19 so where work can be done safely it can continue.

“Industry and Government’s priority now must be a long-term recovery plan for our sector, which will be at the very heart of the UK’s economic revival in the months and years ahead.”

BMF CEO, John Newcomb added: “A number of BMF members are already featured in case studies on the website but we know many more in our sector have stepped up magnificently both to change the way they are working and to support the NHS and their local communities.

“We are seeking more case studies to showcase the commitment and dedication of our industry through the work you are doing to overcome this crisis.”

If you have a great story to tell, please email details to john.newcomb@bmf.org.uk.
Construction Response Website
The BMF is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19.

BMF launches video to support Covid-19 Branch Operating Guidelines


BMF Branch Operating Guidelines video The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has produced a video info-graphic outlining the key elements of the practical advice provided in their Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19 document published last week.

Like the full document, the video provides safe operating guidelines for builders’ merchants branch operations while Covid-19 restrictions continue.  The guidelines cover 5 key areas - head/branch office and trade counter environments, customer collections, supplier deliveries, deliveries to construction sites and tool hire.

The guidelines incorporate Public Health England (PHE) guidance on social distancing, hygiene and cleaning procedure and are endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council, which has itself published Site Operating Procedures to facilitate safe working on building sites.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount.  The Branch Operating Guidelines in the video and the more detailed document show how risks can be managed with safe systems of work during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The video-infographic can be viewed on the BMF’s Covid-19 online information hub , which is keeping members up to date with the latest advice and developments relating to the building material sector throughout the crisis.
BMF Branch Operating Guidelines video
The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has produced a video info-graphic outlining the key elements of the practical advice provided in their Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19 document published last week.

BMF publishes Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19


BMF Branch operating guidelines17 April 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has published Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue.

The 18-page document sets out guidelines and additional precautions to follow in the office, at trade counters, during customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and tool hire. 

The Guidelines incorporate Public Health England (PHE) social distancing and hygiene procedures and have been prepared in consultation with merchants, Highways England and the Construction Leadership Council, which has itself published Site Operating Procedures for use on all building sites to facilitate safe working.

Two-metre social distancing is absolute between merchant staff, customers and suppliers - and information is included on detailed cleaning routines and mandatory compliance to avoid transmission of the virus.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said:

“The Government has made it clear that merchants are a vital part of the construction supply chain and, if it is safe to do so, it is important they are able to support the construction industry as work continues and more sites reopen.

“We have worked with the industry to develop a new operating model to minimise the risk of virus transmission. The new model centres around trade customers using call and collect, click and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into branches.

“The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount and every merchant must make the best decision for their individual business. We hope these new Guidelines will show how risks can be managed if these safe systems of work are in place and remain effective until further notice.”

The BMF website includes a list showing the current operational status of merchant and supplier members during the crisis. The BMF has asked all members to advise them of any changes to ensure the list is accurate and up to date.
The BMF has published Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue.

Builders Merchants Q1 sales confirm Coronavirus effect


20 May 2020

Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Government measures to reduce transmission of the virus.

Figures for Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019, show a decline of -6.7% in total builders’ merchants’ sales during the first quarter of this year.  

Year on Year sales were down in all three months, falling by -2.6% in January 2020 compared with January 2019, and by -1.3% in February 2020 compared with February 2019.  Social distancing and lockdown measures introduced during March led to the largest decline of the quarter with sales down by -15.1% on March 2019.  March sales were also down by
-3.5% on February 2020.

Comparing the Q1 performance of different product categories vs Q1 2019, 
Tools (-12.7%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-11.1%) reported the biggest falls, with Plumbing, Heating & Electrical down -7.4%, Heavy Building Materials down -6.5%, Decorating down -5.1% and Kitchens & Bathrooms down -4.1%.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the one outstanding performance was in Workwear and Safetywear up by +24.2%.

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. 

The quarterly BMBI figures paint a slightly less negative picture than Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) first quarterly estimates for Q1 2020, which showed Private Housing RMI work – a mainstay of builders’ merchants’ sales – down by 14.6% compared with Q1 2019 , having dropped 18.6% in March 2020 vs March 2019 and by -8.6% vs February 2020.  The decline in the first quarter reported by the ONS is the largest since data was first published in Q2 2012.

Commenting on the BMBI results, John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation said: 

“In the current circumstances no-one will be surprised by the results for Q1, with confidence dropping as coronavirus spread across the world to the UK and many building sites and builders’ merchants shutting down completely when the lockdown took effect on 24 March.  

“Sites are now beginning a gradual return to work whilst maintaining enhanced safe working practices.  Although this demonstrates the construction industry’s desire to assist in the recovery of the UK economy, with contractors reporting a slump in new orders and reports of projects being postponed it is far too early to say how long that recovery will take.”
 
Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade at GfK added:

“With at least one week of trading lost, it comes as no surprise that March saw a noticeable decrease in sales. The true effect of the lockdown will only become known once April data becomes available, with the path to recovery being a long journey with no clear end destination.”

“The next few months will be a key indicator as to how well the industry will adapt to a new normal, with there being an acceptance that online merchant sales will see further growth going forward.”
 
Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s BMBI reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

New furlough plans throw lifeline to protect multi-billion pound building supply chain


12 May 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

The BMF has been actively pressing for a more flexible programme from the Government, as a member of the Construction Leadership Council, which is co-ordinating the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

According to BMF chief executive, John Newcomb, the nation’s multi-billion pound builders’ merchant and building material supply sector would have been severely hampered to help get Britain building without some flexibility in the system.

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive, said: “An incredible 80 per cent of all building products used in the construction of homes and buildings are manufactured in the UK. We need to protect this home-grown sector, which creates vital jobs in manufacturing, construction and the service sector.

“The extension to the furlough and the new levels of flexibility it brings have thrown us a lifeline that will enable us to do that.

“We are delighted that the Government has listened to our representations through the Construction Leadership Council. With our members now able to plan ahead, livelihoods will be protected, with the number one priority being safety.”

 The federation says the industry is well-prepared for the restart of construction and has already produced new branch operating guidelines  for its members to follow, which set a blueprint for procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Newcomb added: “We are preparing for the construction industry to get back on site. Over the past three weeks, since the publication of our new branch operating guidelines, we have seen increasing numbers of merchants safely re-opening or expanding operations to support their trade customers.

“It is clear the Government now sees a return to work for the construction industry as a priority. We are prepared for that, with the safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers paramount. The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is also working in a specialist group to ensure confidence in the building products supply chain, to meet increasing demand in the re-opening period.

It is working with the Construction Products Association (CPA) to monitor the manufacturing and distribution of their respective members, in order to meet the needs of housebuilders, contractors and SME builders. They are heading up the Product Availability Group, set-up by the Construction Leadership Council.
The BMF says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

New website shows how industry helped in the fight against Covid-19


28 April 2020

Construction Response WebsiteThe Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19. 

Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020, merchants and building materials producers, along with businesses from across the construction industry have been playing their part in fighting the disease, providing vital resources to those on the frontline, and safeguarding construction workers and local communities.

Today sees the launch of a website www.constructioncovid19response.co.uk  that showcases examples of these responses, with a focus on four themes:

1. Building NHS Capacity
2. PPE Donations
3. Safeguarding Workers
4. Helping Communities

The site has been prepared as part of the work of the Construction Leadership Council Covid-19 Taskforce, comprising representatives from the industry’s trade bodies, including the Builders Merchants Federation, client organisations and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Commenting on the new website, Andy Mitchell CBE, co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said:

“No-one can have any doubt that the true heroes of the pandemic are those who work day in, day our in our NHS and care system, risking their lives to help others.

“But I have also been proud to see the response of the UK construction industry, which has come together to support our NHS, change the way we work, and support the communities in which we live.

“The delivery of the NHS Nightingale hospitals within a matter of weeks has required 24 hour working at all levels of the UK construction supply chain, and a level of co-operation that has shown UK construction at its very best.

“Industry has not only stepped up to the plate in a time of crisis, but has donated millions of pieces of much-needed PPE to hospitals, care-homes, and other front-line workers.

“We have also moved at speed to implement safe working practices in response to Covid-19 so where work can be done safely it can continue.

“Industry and Government’s priority now must be a long-term recovery plan for our sector, which will be at the very heart of the UK’s economic revival in the months and years ahead.”

BMF CEO, John Newcomb added: “A number of BMF members are already featured in case studies on the website but we know many more in our sector have stepped up magnificently both to change the way they are working and to support the NHS and their local communities.

“We are seeking more case studies to showcase the commitment and dedication of our industry through the work you are doing to overcome this crisis.”

If you have a great story to tell, please email details to john.newcomb@bmf.org.uk.
Construction Response Website
The BMF is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19.

Builders Merchants report lacklustre February before Covid-19


BMBI February 202021 April 2020

Figures for February 2020 just released in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) point to a lacklustre month for sales through UK builders’ merchants.  February trading is unlikely to have been much affected by the emerging Coronavirus pandemic, pre-dating social distancing, which started on 19 March, and the lockdown measures which took effect on 24 March.

Total Builders Merchants sales during the month were down -1.3% compared with February 2019.  Sales in three categories were weaker including the two largest, Heavy Building Materials (-1.9%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-6.9%). Tools was also weaker at -4.0%. Among the categories to show year on year growth, there was strong demand for Workwear & Safetywear (+30.8%) driven by higher demand for protective equipment including masks, googles and gloves.  Landscaping sold 7.4% more and Kitchens & Bathrooms grew by 3.5%.

Sales in February were 2.2% higher than in January 2020, despite having two less trading days, and February being one of the wettest on record. 

Sales in the three months December 2019 to February 2020 were -1.2% lower than in the same period a year earlier.  Nine categories improved, including Workwear & Safetywear (+14.1%) and Landscaping (+5.3%).  However Timber & Joinery Products (-6%) and Tools (-4.8%) were weaker.

Overall the 12 months March 2019 to February 2020 were down 0.9% on the same period a year earlier, with one less trading day. Average sales per day (which takes trading day differences into account) in the last 12 months were down 0.5%.

BMF CEO John Newcomb commented: “While we all know the figures for the first Quarter will be pretty abysmal when they are released next month, it is interesting to look back at the trend before Covid-19 took hold. It is clear that the negative trend over the past three Quarters had continued into the first two months of 2020. 

“Public confidence was already at a low after three years of Brexit uncertainty, and any possibility of a Brexit bounce following the signing of the Withdrawal Agreement in January was swiftly countered by widespread flooding hindering work in February. How long ago that all seems today. We may have to wait until 2021 until we fully understand what the new normal will look like.”
Figures for February 2020 just released in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) point to a lacklustre month for sales through UK builders’ merchants.

New furlough plans throw lifeline to protect multi-billion pound building supply chain


12 May 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

The BMF has been actively pressing for a more flexible programme from the Government, as a member of the Construction Leadership Council, which is co-ordinating the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

According to BMF chief executive, John Newcomb, the nation’s multi-billion pound builders’ merchant and building material supply sector would have been severely hampered to help get Britain building without some flexibility in the system.

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive, said: “An incredible 80 per cent of all building products used in the construction of homes and buildings are manufactured in the UK. We need to protect this home-grown sector, which creates vital jobs in manufacturing, construction and the service sector.

“The extension to the furlough and the new levels of flexibility it brings have thrown us a lifeline that will enable us to do that.

“We are delighted that the Government has listened to our representations through the Construction Leadership Council. With our members now able to plan ahead, livelihoods will be protected, with the number one priority being safety.”

 The federation says the industry is well-prepared for the restart of construction and has already produced new branch operating guidelines  for its members to follow, which set a blueprint for procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Newcomb added: “We are preparing for the construction industry to get back on site. Over the past three weeks, since the publication of our new branch operating guidelines, we have seen increasing numbers of merchants safely re-opening or expanding operations to support their trade customers.

“It is clear the Government now sees a return to work for the construction industry as a priority. We are prepared for that, with the safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers paramount. The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is also working in a specialist group to ensure confidence in the building products supply chain, to meet increasing demand in the re-opening period.

It is working with the Construction Products Association (CPA) to monitor the manufacturing and distribution of their respective members, in order to meet the needs of housebuilders, contractors and SME builders. They are heading up the Product Availability Group, set-up by the Construction Leadership Council.
The BMF says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

New website shows how industry helped in the fight against Covid-19


28 April 2020

Construction Response WebsiteThe Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19. 

Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020, merchants and building materials producers, along with businesses from across the construction industry have been playing their part in fighting the disease, providing vital resources to those on the frontline, and safeguarding construction workers and local communities.

Today sees the launch of a website www.constructioncovid19response.co.uk  that showcases examples of these responses, with a focus on four themes:

1. Building NHS Capacity
2. PPE Donations
3. Safeguarding Workers
4. Helping Communities

The site has been prepared as part of the work of the Construction Leadership Council Covid-19 Taskforce, comprising representatives from the industry’s trade bodies, including the Builders Merchants Federation, client organisations and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Commenting on the new website, Andy Mitchell CBE, co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said:

“No-one can have any doubt that the true heroes of the pandemic are those who work day in, day our in our NHS and care system, risking their lives to help others.

“But I have also been proud to see the response of the UK construction industry, which has come together to support our NHS, change the way we work, and support the communities in which we live.

“The delivery of the NHS Nightingale hospitals within a matter of weeks has required 24 hour working at all levels of the UK construction supply chain, and a level of co-operation that has shown UK construction at its very best.

“Industry has not only stepped up to the plate in a time of crisis, but has donated millions of pieces of much-needed PPE to hospitals, care-homes, and other front-line workers.

“We have also moved at speed to implement safe working practices in response to Covid-19 so where work can be done safely it can continue.

“Industry and Government’s priority now must be a long-term recovery plan for our sector, which will be at the very heart of the UK’s economic revival in the months and years ahead.”

BMF CEO, John Newcomb added: “A number of BMF members are already featured in case studies on the website but we know many more in our sector have stepped up magnificently both to change the way they are working and to support the NHS and their local communities.

“We are seeking more case studies to showcase the commitment and dedication of our industry through the work you are doing to overcome this crisis.”

If you have a great story to tell, please email details to john.newcomb@bmf.org.uk.
Construction Response Website
The BMF is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19.

BMF launches video to support Covid-19 Branch Operating Guidelines


BMF Branch Operating Guidelines video The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has produced a video info-graphic outlining the key elements of the practical advice provided in their Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19 document published last week.

Like the full document, the video provides safe operating guidelines for builders’ merchants branch operations while Covid-19 restrictions continue.  The guidelines cover 5 key areas - head/branch office and trade counter environments, customer collections, supplier deliveries, deliveries to construction sites and tool hire.

The guidelines incorporate Public Health England (PHE) guidance on social distancing, hygiene and cleaning procedure and are endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council, which has itself published Site Operating Procedures to facilitate safe working on building sites.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount.  The Branch Operating Guidelines in the video and the more detailed document show how risks can be managed with safe systems of work during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The video-infographic can be viewed on the BMF’s Covid-19 online information hub , which is keeping members up to date with the latest advice and developments relating to the building material sector throughout the crisis.
BMF Branch Operating Guidelines video
The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has produced a video info-graphic outlining the key elements of the practical advice provided in their Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19 document published last week.

BMF publishes Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19


BMF Branch operating guidelines17 April 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has published Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue.

The 18-page document sets out guidelines and additional precautions to follow in the office, at trade counters, during customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and tool hire. 

The Guidelines incorporate Public Health England (PHE) social distancing and hygiene procedures and have been prepared in consultation with merchants, Highways England and the Construction Leadership Council, which has itself published Site Operating Procedures for use on all building sites to facilitate safe working.

Two-metre social distancing is absolute between merchant staff, customers and suppliers - and information is included on detailed cleaning routines and mandatory compliance to avoid transmission of the virus.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said:

“The Government has made it clear that merchants are a vital part of the construction supply chain and, if it is safe to do so, it is important they are able to support the construction industry as work continues and more sites reopen.

“We have worked with the industry to develop a new operating model to minimise the risk of virus transmission. The new model centres around trade customers using call and collect, click and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into branches.

“The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount and every merchant must make the best decision for their individual business. We hope these new Guidelines will show how risks can be managed if these safe systems of work are in place and remain effective until further notice.”

The BMF website includes a list showing the current operational status of merchant and supplier members during the crisis. The BMF has asked all members to advise them of any changes to ensure the list is accurate and up to date.
The BMF has published Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue.

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1


28 May 2020

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020. Drilling down regionally identifies a greater impact of social distancing and lockdown measures in London and the South East than in other parts of the country.

While all eleven regions had lower sales across the quarter compared with Q1 2019 (-6.7% nationally), the South East excluding London (-10.7%) and London (-9.8%) were the worst affected.  At the other end of the scale, Scotland (-0.6%) and West Midlands (-2.7%) were least affected.  

Although Q1 2020 benefitted from five extra trading days over Q4 2019 national sales were still marginally lower (-0.8%) with London (-6.5%) the weakest performer.  However, six regions outperformed the national average, led by East Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside, which were both up by 2.7%. 

The quarter’s poor performance was exacerbated in March when the full extent of the government measures to supress the transmission of Covid-19 came into play, with all regions reporting lower sales compared to March 2019.  Once again London (-23.1%) and South East excluding London (-18.5%) were the worst affected regions, while Wales (-8.5%) and Scotland (-10.1%) recorded the smallest falls.

Taking a longer term view, the Moving Average Trend, which compares the last 12 months to March 2020 with the 12 month period prior to that, saw total merchant sales down -2.9% worsening from -0.9% a month ago.  Scotland was the strongest performer during this period, with London and South East excluding London doing least well.

Commenting on the regional picture, BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “The performance of builders merchants’ sales in different parts of the country offers a clear reflection of the regional health of construction.  From the Q1 results we can see that London and the South East were the first regions to be significantly affected by Covid-19, even prior to the lockdown.  The next Quarter’s results will tell us if those regions will also be in the vanguard of the recovery.”
 
Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1
Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020.

Industry comes together to minimise product shortages


26 May 2020

Construction Leadership CouncilAs government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to build confidence, dispel rumours and minimise supply and demand constraints.

The CLC’s Product Availability Group – jointly chaired by the BMF and the Construction Products Association (CPA) – meets weekly on-line, bringing together key manufacturers, merchants, Tier 1 contractors, SME builders and housebuilders to understand current stock levels, actual or potential pinch points. and when and how any issues are being addressed.

The picture that emerged last week suggests that there is a good supply of the majority of building materials and products. The Brick Development Council confirmed that there are 480 million clay bricks ready for immediate delivery from 56 factories around the country. Within the supply chain there is also depth of stock in plumbing and heating, general lightside and electrical products. Increased plaster production should see stock levels restored by the end of next month. However, with some quarries still to open, the group has noted regional variations in the availability of aggregates.

Peter Caplehorn, Chief Executive of the CPA, said: “The meetings are proving invaluable in shedding light on the availability of different product groups and the circumstances and business reasons behind their status, as well as the consequences, including a small but critical number of product shortages which are now being resolved with increasing production.

“Ultimately, what we’ve helped facilitate is a frank but collegial discussion around business planning that has helped us share the facts, dispel rumours and uncertainty, and plot a way forward to ‘re-open’ the industry.”

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “This Group has been instrumental in addressing some difficult supply and demand issues since the early days of the lockdown when most businesses chose to close and only ‘essential’ projects were the focus of attention.

“Since then, we’ve been pleased to see confidence growing and nearly all of our merchants re-opening, builders returning, site output increasing, and manufacturers ramping up capacity in line with new orders. All of this is being done with new operating procedures in place to ensure that safety is paramount.”

“I’m encouraged that, in the face of unprecedented circumstances, our industry is working so collaboratively to address the challenges we are facing and get Britain building again.”
As government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to

Construction trade body welcomes COVID-19 plans


26 May 2020

A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

According to the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), the plans set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday (21 May) will enable its members to gear-up to meet demand when construction works are reintroduced. 
 
BMF members operate from 420 branches and 26 manufacturing sites across Scotland. 

John Newcomb, chief executive of the BMF, said: “The phased approach set out by the First Minister will enable our members to schedule their activities accordingly.

“They will be able to plan ahead and meet the demands for building products and materials, once the construction industry returns to work in the future.”

Ninety per cent of BMF merchant members are currently open or partially open, to support essential works, with restrictions in place to ensure safety first.

Mr Newcomb added: “We have already produced new Branch Operating Guidelines for builders’ merchant staff to follow in the office and trade counter, for customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and for tool hire during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

“This 18-page document covers procedures for phone, click/call and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into shop or products.

“The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is a member of Scotland’s Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV), which is in regular contract with industry colleagues and the Scottish Government.
 
A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

Builders Merchants Q1 sales confirm Coronavirus effect


20 May 2020

Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Government measures to reduce transmission of the virus.

Figures for Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019, show a decline of -6.7% in total builders’ merchants’ sales during the first quarter of this year.  

Year on Year sales were down in all three months, falling by -2.6% in January 2020 compared with January 2019, and by -1.3% in February 2020 compared with February 2019.  Social distancing and lockdown measures introduced during March led to the largest decline of the quarter with sales down by -15.1% on March 2019.  March sales were also down by
-3.5% on February 2020.

Comparing the Q1 performance of different product categories vs Q1 2019, 
Tools (-12.7%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-11.1%) reported the biggest falls, with Plumbing, Heating & Electrical down -7.4%, Heavy Building Materials down -6.5%, Decorating down -5.1% and Kitchens & Bathrooms down -4.1%.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the one outstanding performance was in Workwear and Safetywear up by +24.2%.

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. 

The quarterly BMBI figures paint a slightly less negative picture than Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) first quarterly estimates for Q1 2020, which showed Private Housing RMI work – a mainstay of builders’ merchants’ sales – down by 14.6% compared with Q1 2019 , having dropped 18.6% in March 2020 vs March 2019 and by -8.6% vs February 2020.  The decline in the first quarter reported by the ONS is the largest since data was first published in Q2 2012.

Commenting on the BMBI results, John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation said: 

“In the current circumstances no-one will be surprised by the results for Q1, with confidence dropping as coronavirus spread across the world to the UK and many building sites and builders’ merchants shutting down completely when the lockdown took effect on 24 March.  

“Sites are now beginning a gradual return to work whilst maintaining enhanced safe working practices.  Although this demonstrates the construction industry’s desire to assist in the recovery of the UK economy, with contractors reporting a slump in new orders and reports of projects being postponed it is far too early to say how long that recovery will take.”
 
Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade at GfK added:

“With at least one week of trading lost, it comes as no surprise that March saw a noticeable decrease in sales. The true effect of the lockdown will only become known once April data becomes available, with the path to recovery being a long journey with no clear end destination.”

“The next few months will be a key indicator as to how well the industry will adapt to a new normal, with there being an acceptance that online merchant sales will see further growth going forward.”
 
Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s BMBI reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1


28 May 2020

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020. Drilling down regionally identifies a greater impact of social distancing and lockdown measures in London and the South East than in other parts of the country.

While all eleven regions had lower sales across the quarter compared with Q1 2019 (-6.7% nationally), the South East excluding London (-10.7%) and London (-9.8%) were the worst affected.  At the other end of the scale, Scotland (-0.6%) and West Midlands (-2.7%) were least affected.  

Although Q1 2020 benefitted from five extra trading days over Q4 2019 national sales were still marginally lower (-0.8%) with London (-6.5%) the weakest performer.  However, six regions outperformed the national average, led by East Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside, which were both up by 2.7%. 

The quarter’s poor performance was exacerbated in March when the full extent of the government measures to supress the transmission of Covid-19 came into play, with all regions reporting lower sales compared to March 2019.  Once again London (-23.1%) and South East excluding London (-18.5%) were the worst affected regions, while Wales (-8.5%) and Scotland (-10.1%) recorded the smallest falls.

Taking a longer term view, the Moving Average Trend, which compares the last 12 months to March 2020 with the 12 month period prior to that, saw total merchant sales down -2.9% worsening from -0.9% a month ago.  Scotland was the strongest performer during this period, with London and South East excluding London doing least well.

Commenting on the regional picture, BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “The performance of builders merchants’ sales in different parts of the country offers a clear reflection of the regional health of construction.  From the Q1 results we can see that London and the South East were the first regions to be significantly affected by Covid-19, even prior to the lockdown.  The next Quarter’s results will tell us if those regions will also be in the vanguard of the recovery.”
 
Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1
Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020.

Industry comes together to minimise product shortages


26 May 2020

Construction Leadership CouncilAs government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to build confidence, dispel rumours and minimise supply and demand constraints.

The CLC’s Product Availability Group – jointly chaired by the BMF and the Construction Products Association (CPA) – meets weekly on-line, bringing together key manufacturers, merchants, Tier 1 contractors, SME builders and housebuilders to understand current stock levels, actual or potential pinch points. and when and how any issues are being addressed.

The picture that emerged last week suggests that there is a good supply of the majority of building materials and products. The Brick Development Council confirmed that there are 480 million clay bricks ready for immediate delivery from 56 factories around the country. Within the supply chain there is also depth of stock in plumbing and heating, general lightside and electrical products. Increased plaster production should see stock levels restored by the end of next month. However, with some quarries still to open, the group has noted regional variations in the availability of aggregates.

Peter Caplehorn, Chief Executive of the CPA, said: “The meetings are proving invaluable in shedding light on the availability of different product groups and the circumstances and business reasons behind their status, as well as the consequences, including a small but critical number of product shortages which are now being resolved with increasing production.

“Ultimately, what we’ve helped facilitate is a frank but collegial discussion around business planning that has helped us share the facts, dispel rumours and uncertainty, and plot a way forward to ‘re-open’ the industry.”

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “This Group has been instrumental in addressing some difficult supply and demand issues since the early days of the lockdown when most businesses chose to close and only ‘essential’ projects were the focus of attention.

“Since then, we’ve been pleased to see confidence growing and nearly all of our merchants re-opening, builders returning, site output increasing, and manufacturers ramping up capacity in line with new orders. All of this is being done with new operating procedures in place to ensure that safety is paramount.”

“I’m encouraged that, in the face of unprecedented circumstances, our industry is working so collaboratively to address the challenges we are facing and get Britain building again.”
As government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to

Construction trade body welcomes COVID-19 plans


26 May 2020

A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

According to the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), the plans set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday (21 May) will enable its members to gear-up to meet demand when construction works are reintroduced. 
 
BMF members operate from 420 branches and 26 manufacturing sites across Scotland. 

John Newcomb, chief executive of the BMF, said: “The phased approach set out by the First Minister will enable our members to schedule their activities accordingly.

“They will be able to plan ahead and meet the demands for building products and materials, once the construction industry returns to work in the future.”

Ninety per cent of BMF merchant members are currently open or partially open, to support essential works, with restrictions in place to ensure safety first.

Mr Newcomb added: “We have already produced new Branch Operating Guidelines for builders’ merchant staff to follow in the office and trade counter, for customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and for tool hire during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

“This 18-page document covers procedures for phone, click/call and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into shop or products.

“The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is a member of Scotland’s Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV), which is in regular contract with industry colleagues and the Scottish Government.
 
A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

Builders Merchants Q1 sales confirm Coronavirus effect


20 May 2020

Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Government measures to reduce transmission of the virus.

Figures for Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019, show a decline of -6.7% in total builders’ merchants’ sales during the first quarter of this year.  

Year on Year sales were down in all three months, falling by -2.6% in January 2020 compared with January 2019, and by -1.3% in February 2020 compared with February 2019.  Social distancing and lockdown measures introduced during March led to the largest decline of the quarter with sales down by -15.1% on March 2019.  March sales were also down by
-3.5% on February 2020.

Comparing the Q1 performance of different product categories vs Q1 2019, 
Tools (-12.7%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-11.1%) reported the biggest falls, with Plumbing, Heating & Electrical down -7.4%, Heavy Building Materials down -6.5%, Decorating down -5.1% and Kitchens & Bathrooms down -4.1%.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the one outstanding performance was in Workwear and Safetywear up by +24.2%.

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. 

The quarterly BMBI figures paint a slightly less negative picture than Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) first quarterly estimates for Q1 2020, which showed Private Housing RMI work – a mainstay of builders’ merchants’ sales – down by 14.6% compared with Q1 2019 , having dropped 18.6% in March 2020 vs March 2019 and by -8.6% vs February 2020.  The decline in the first quarter reported by the ONS is the largest since data was first published in Q2 2012.

Commenting on the BMBI results, John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation said: 

“In the current circumstances no-one will be surprised by the results for Q1, with confidence dropping as coronavirus spread across the world to the UK and many building sites and builders’ merchants shutting down completely when the lockdown took effect on 24 March.  

“Sites are now beginning a gradual return to work whilst maintaining enhanced safe working practices.  Although this demonstrates the construction industry’s desire to assist in the recovery of the UK economy, with contractors reporting a slump in new orders and reports of projects being postponed it is far too early to say how long that recovery will take.”
 
Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade at GfK added:

“With at least one week of trading lost, it comes as no surprise that March saw a noticeable decrease in sales. The true effect of the lockdown will only become known once April data becomes available, with the path to recovery being a long journey with no clear end destination.”

“The next few months will be a key indicator as to how well the industry will adapt to a new normal, with there being an acceptance that online merchant sales will see further growth going forward.”
 
Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s BMBI reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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