BMF News

Chadwicks Group joins the BMF boosting membership in Ireland

Chadwicks Group has joined the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), significantly extending the trade body’s presence in Ireland.

Chadwicks, which is part of the Grafton Group, is Ireland’s leading builders merchants and home improvement specialist with a network of over 50 branch locations across the country. The Chadwicks Group also includes the brands Cork Builders Providers, Davies, Heiton Steel, Telfords and The Panelling Centre.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said:

“We are delighted to welcome Chadwicks Group to the BMF and look forward to helping them with training and services that support their business ambitions. We are committed to extending the BMF’s reach and strengthening our position in the Irish market and this extends our membership in Ireland to 75 merchants operating from 225 branches across the country.”

Patrick Atkinson, CEO of the Chadwicks Group said:

“Chadwicks are present in more communities around Ireland than any other merchant and we want to give our customers the best advice as well as the best products. We invest in our colleagues who provide first class service. The BMF shares our approach to building excellence, and we look forward to a long association with them.”

Chadwicks Group has joined the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), significantly extending the trade body’s presence in Ireland.

STARK Group Chief Strategy Officer to speak at European Builders Merchants Conference

Mathias Lönneker, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President of STARK Group, has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at the UFEMAT European Builders Merchants Conference, taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark in September.

The conference will also mark the conclusion of BMF CEO, John Newcomb’s 6-year term of office as President of UFEMAT.

Since Mathias Lönneker joined STARK Group in early 2018, he has played a crucial role in the company’s transformative journey. Initially operating solely in the Nordics, STARK Group has, during the past six years, quadrupled in size, entering markets such as the UK, Germany and Austria. This has made the company a leading European merchant and distributor of heavy building materials. Mathias holds responsibility for strategy, business development and value creation plans for larger M&A. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Group.

Today, STARK Group operates 1,150 branches and distribution centres across Europe through six subsidiary companies. STARK Building Materials UK Ltd, which comprises 14 brands, including Jewson, is one of the UK’s largest retailers and distributors of building and construction materials.

The UFEMAT Conference brings together builders’ merchants, building material suppliers and trade bodies from across Europe.

John Newcomb, UFEMAT President and BMF CEO, said:

“I’m delighted that Mathias will speak at my final conference as UFEMAT President. STARK Group has a proud 125-year history in Denmark and became the largest builders’ merchant in the Nordic region in the early 2000s. But I am most interested in hearing about its most recent transformation into the biggest building materials distributor in Northern Europe.

“I’m sure that many others in the BMF’s merchant and supplier community will want to join me at this year’s UFEMAT Conference, which takes place from 26 to 28 September.”

UK merchants who wish to attend should contact Mike Tattam at [email protected]

UK suppliers may join through a sponsorship package, details of which can be obtained from Oz Bham at [email protected]

Mathias Lönneker, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President of STARK Group, has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at the UFEMAT European Builders Merchants Conference, taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark in September.

Red Sea disruption prompts call for advanced planning

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is urging housebuilders and construction professionals to secure future supply of building materials by ordering in advance.

Rebel attacks in the Red Sea have disrupted shipping from India and China, resulting in longer sea journeys and higher costs for products ranging from decorative sandstone to plywood and ironmongery.

BMF CEO John Newcomb is co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council’s Materials Supply Chain Group, which issued its latest statement this week.

Mr Newcomb said: “The Group is monitoring the availability and cost of supplies from the Indian subcontinent and Asia such as decorative sandstone, plywood, sheet materials and ironmongery.

“With an additional 10 to 15 days at sea needed to navigate around Africa rather than take the usual route through the Suez Canal, the main concern here relates to price increases stemming from increased shipping and container costs for these products.”

The BMF represents 950 merchant and supplier companies across the UK and Ireland with combined sales of more than £44.9bn.

BMF member company H&B Buying Group is a buying group with a network of more than 130 independent builders’ merchants.

Paul Pennick, Procurement Director at H&B Buying Group, said: “Of the total number of global container shipments, 30% would normally take the route via the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

“If a vessel takes an alternative route, it adds two or three weeks on lead time and adds approximately $1.5 million in fuel costs alone.

“The situation is very fluid, so we are keeping a close watch on the situation.”

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is urging housebuilders and construction professionals to secure future supply of building materials by ordering in advance.

Registration 'Now Live' for UK’s largest event for the built environment

A host of new features, interactive demos, international pavilions from across the globe, and a charity Gumball Rally across the country have all been announced by the organisers of the UK’s largest event for the built environment, UK Construction Week (UKCW), which makes a welcome return to London’s ExCeL from 7-9 May 2024.

The multi award-winning show will see the debut of a new Live Demo Theatre; Skills and Training Hub; a construction-specific Recruitment Zone; new C-Suite Summits; a ‘Gumball Rally’ which finishes at UKCW London; a host of international exhibitors housed in pavilions from India, China, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Germany and France.

UKCW London is once again co-located with Concrete Expo and The Offsite Show, as well as the UK’s premier event for the self-build sector, Grand Designs Live.

New features at UKCW London include:

  • Live Demo Theatre - a showcase of the latest construction products, techniques and innovations from across the world, the Demo Theatre will bring them to life in front of a live audience of industry professionals looking to be ahead of the curve.
  • C-suite Summits - an exclusive new area for the sector’s top decision makers, the C-suite Summits will see top execs offering their invaluable insights and forecasts to their peers. The new zone will also be a top level networking forum for dialogue and debate.
  • Skills and Training Hub - a first-time collaboration with the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board), the new hub will address the Skills Shortage head-on with a three-day programme featuring a myriad talks and workshops to support skills development within the industry and ultimately, build better.
  • Careers and Recruitment Zone - another new area created in response to exhibitor and visitor feedback, this will not only be a focal point for all those working in recruitment, or simply looking for that next new role. Visitors will have face to face access to specialist recruiters from the construction sector, with discreet interview rooms allowing candidates to have onsite consultations.
  • Construction Sport Gumball Rally - spearheaded by UKCW regulars Construction Sport, a charity which supports construction workers’ mental and physical health through sport, the ‘white van’ Gumball Rally will see teams of drivers navigate their way across the UK, stopping off at famous infrastructure projects along the way - raising funds along the way. Two rallies will take place in 2024, each in the week prior to the UK Construction Week shows in London (May) and Birmingham (October). More details will follow in the coming months.
  • International Pavilions - the largest international representation of manufacturers to date at any UK construction event. Businesses from India, China, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Germany and France will take centre stage at UK Construction Week London, bringing together a myriad innovations from across the world.

Sam Patel, UKCW event director, commented: “Construction is a fast-paced and evolving industry, and so our show needs to reflect that - hence the new areas which focus on skills, training and recruitment to address the skills gap which we all know has been affecting the sector for a number of years.”

Registration for UKCW London is now live (and free) through the new-look website.

The London show is complemented by its sister event, UKCW Birmingham, which takes place at the NEC from October 1-3.

The NEC was the birthplace of UK Construction Week in 2015 and the trade show has grown to become the UK's largest built environment event. Details on the Birmingham programme of events and speakers will be announced in due course, but exhibition space is already filling up - to enquire for your business, contact  [email protected]

To find out more about both shows and to register for UKCW London for free, visit https://ukcw-london-2024.reg.buzz/cab-pr

 
Hear from industry leaders, explore countless networking opportunities, source new products and see the latest innovations at UK Construction Week (UKCW), at London’s ExCeL

European Builders Merchants Conference postponed until April 2022


15 March 2021

European Builders Merchants Conference postponed until April 2022The UFEMAT Congress scheduled to take place in London from 14-17 October 2021 has been postponed for six months due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. The conference, which brings together builders merchants, building material suppliers and trade bodies from across Europe, will now be held from 28-30 April 2022.

The decision was taken by UFEMAT Secretary General, Marnix Van Hoe and UFEMAT’s current President, John Newcomb, the Chief Executive Officer of the BMF which is hosting the event.  

Making the announcement, John Newcomb said: 

“With so much uncertainty surrounding restrictions on travel, hospitality and meeting numbers across Europe, it would have been impractical for the UFEMAT Congress to go ahead in October this year. The safety of those attending the event must be our main priority and for this reason we are postponing until Spring 2022, by which time ‘normality’ should have returned.  

“We are extremely proud that the UK will host the first post-pandemic Congress. We are looking forward to welcoming our European colleagues to London, and working with a fantastic event management company, Incentivise, to ensure that it is one of the best events that UFEMAT has ever staged.” 

Marnix Van Hoe added: “We are very sorry that our 62nd UFEMAT Congress has suffered a further postponement, but I am sure that everyone understands the reasons for this decision. However, the enforced delay will make our meeting all the more special, with a programme designed to help drive our industry forward into a new digital age.”  

All existing bookings and sponsorships will be carried forward to the new date in April 2022.

Details of the Congress Programme are attached and further information can be obtained from June Upton ([email protected]) or Marianne de Vroome ([email protected]).
 
European Builders Merchants Conference postponed until April 2022
The UFEMAT Congress scheduled to take place in London from 14-17 October 2021 has been postponed for six months due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

Price inflation drives Q2 record merchant sales

23 August 2022

The BMF’s Builder Merchants Building Index (BMBI) latest report on sales of building materials in the UK, once again underscores the impact of price inflation on the sector.  Overall sales revenue in Quarter 2 2022 was the highest since the BMBI started in 2015 but, just as in the first quarter of the year, this was largely driven by price inflation rather than volume growth.

Q2 2022 vs Q2 2021
A detailed comparison of Q2 2022 with Q2 2021, shows total builders merchant sales increased by +4.0%, with one less trading day this year.  Volume sales were-11.3% lower, while prices increased by +17.3%. 

In terms of Q2 sales values, Heavy Building Materials – the largest category – recorded a +9.2% increase in 2022 vs 2021, while both Timber & Joinery (-3.0%) and Landscaping (-6.3%) decreased.  Kitchens & Bathrooms was the highest performing category, increasing by +18.5% in value. 

Only 3 categories saw volume increases from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022. Services was up by +37.2%, while Renewables & Water Management and Kitchens & Bathrooms were up by +10.6% and +3.3% respectively.

Half year comparisons
Looking at the first half of 2022 reveals a similar story, with a value growth figure of +10.1% compared against the same period in 2021.  Drilling down, the market has seen first half price growth of +16.6%, versus a volume decline of -5.6%.

Behind this, however, is a very telling picture of where the market is heading.  Q1 2022 pricing was heavily influenced by a Timber & Joinery year-on-year price increase of +36.9%, which dropped to +30.5% in Q2.  Heavy Building Materials has now become the category under pressure, with annual price growth up from +11.8% in Q1 2022, to +18.3% in Q2.

John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation said:
“The negative effect of rampant inflation is starting to show with escalating input costs across fuel, energy, raw materials and wages impacting production costs and adding to existing material supply issues.  It is plain to see that the increase in sales values of building materials during the first half of the year has been driven by price inflation rather than volume growth.  Regrettably, this pattern seems set to continue into 2023.”

Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade at GfK added:
“The second quarter of this year has amplified some of the global difficulties, with the continued Russian invasion and spiraling cost of living issues at the forefront. Unfortunately, no immediate end is in sight. With UK inflation approaching double digits, the counterbalance between inflation and interest rates is increasingly difficult to control and will be the ultimate test for the next year or so.”

 
The BMF’s Builder Merchants Building Index (BMBI) latest report on sales of building materials in the UK, once again underscores the impact of price inflation on the sector. Overall sales revenue in Quarter 2 2022 was the highest since the BMBI star

Negative growth in Builders Merchants sales in Q3


26 November 2019

Figures for Q3 2019 just released in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) report negative growth in sales through UK builders’ merchants for the second successive quarter.
In value terms, total merchants’ sales for Q3 2019 were down -0.8% over the same period in 2018, despite one more trading day this year.  A comparison of average sales per day (which removes the impact of trading day differences) shows a year on year decline of -2.3% for the period.

The trend is mostly driven by a -4.7% decline in Timber & Joinery (the second largest category), with the core sub-categories of Timber and Sheet Materials key contributors.  The largest category, Heavy Building Materials, was down by -0.4% in value, with a decline in Bricks balanced against growth in Cement/Aggregate, Plasters & Plasterboards and Insulation. 

Some categories did show value growth during the period, notably Plumbing, Heating & Electrical which was up by +2.4% from Q3 2018, while Kitchens & Bathrooms grew by +3.2%, and Landscaping by +1.3%.

Comparing Year to Date performance figures for the first nine months of 2019 against 2018 continues to show value growth, but this has slowed for the second quarter, down from +2.1% in June to +1.1% in September.  Nonetheless the core categories of Heavy Building Materials and Timber & Joinery show year to date growth of 1.3% and 0.3% respectively, while Landscaping increased by +4.6% from 2018.

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.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO, said:  “The results highlight marked differences between heavy side and light side product sales in Q3, suggesting buildings in progress are being finished, but with fewer new starts..  Our industry is directly affected by political, economic and actual climate, and we have seen adverse conditions in all three for some time.  With the final quarter of this year dominated by a general election, I suspect we will have to wait until 2020 to see any evidence of an upturn.”

Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade, at GfK said:  “With year to date growth still in positive territory we can take some comfort from this quarter’s figures.  Despite difficult trading conditions in 2019 to date, the builders’ merchants industry appears to be weathering the storm.  With the upcoming election we will hopefully have some finality to the dreaded ‘B-word’ and this will allow the industry to start looking forward again.”

To access the full report visit www.bmbi.co.uk
Figures for Q3 2019 just released in the BMF’s BMBI report negative growth in sales through UK builders’ merchants for the second successive quarter.

Debate and discussion at BMF All-Industry Conference

12 March 2019


BMF 2019 Conference Forum speakersDelegates at the BMF All-Industry Conference in Dubrovnik in June will have a choice of four interactive industry workshops to attend as part of the Saturday morning programme, each offering a thought-provoking platform for group discussions. 

The format is based on the specialist BMF Industry Forums which are growing in both number and popularity.  There are now more than 15 such Forums meeting on a regular basis serving various sector and functional interest groups within the building materials industry.

Delegates will be able to attend up to two of the following special interest workshops at the BMF All-Industry Conference.

Marketing Forum

Mark Mallinder, Marketing Director of EH Smith is the guest speaker at this workshop, setting the scene before a Q&A session that is certain to consider the impact of Brexit on business development and marketing strategies. The session is chaired by Lucia Di Stazio, MD of MRA Marketing, the sponsors of this forum.

Plumbing & Heating Forum

P&H is the longest standing of the BMF Forums and one of the most well-supported.  The guest speakers for this special Conference session are Andrew Harrison, CEO of Travis Perkin’s Plumbing Division and Jonathan Collier, MD of Monument Tools, who are sponsoring this workshop.  The session will be chaired by Mark Bradley, MD of Plumbase.

HR/Mental Health Forum

Award-winning mental health campaigners, Neil Laybourn and Jonny Benjamin MBE, will follow up their presentation on the main stage on Day One of the Conference by starting proceedings at this important workshop.  They will be joined by Brian Dow, MD of Mental Health UK and Deputy Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness.  This workshop is sponsored by Isover Saint-Gobain.

Young Merchants Forum

The BMF Young Merchant Group supports and encourages those progressing in their careers.  Setting an inspirational tone for this workshop is Oli France, an adventurer and professional expedition leader who has led teams through some of the world’s most dangerous and least visited countries.  This session is jointly chaired by MKM’s Glenn Paddison, the current chair of BMF Young Merchant Group, and John Ryszkowski, Divisional MD of ACO, who are sponsoring this workshop.

The sold-out BMF All Industry Conference, sponsored by the Crystal Clear Group, takes place in Dubrovnik from 13-16 June 2019. Further details on the Forums can be found are on the Conference website

​Delegates at the BMF All-Industry Conference in Dubrovnik in June will have a choice of four interactive industry workshops to attend as part of the Saturday morning programme, each offering a thought-provoking platform for group discussions. ​ ​

New Housing Minister: BMF reaction


Christopher Pincher - New Housing Minister17 February 2020

Reacting to news that the Rt Hon Christopher Pincher has been appointed as the Minister for Housing, John Newcomb, Chief Executive, of the BMF, said:

“I congratulate Chris Pincher on taking up the housing portfolio at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Chris is an experienced minister, although he comes to domestic policy from the Foreign Office where he was Minister for Europe and the Americas. The diplomatic skills he brings from that role will be put to good use in persuading local authorities to significantly increase the rate of much-needed new house building throughout England”.

“As Mr Pincher gets his feet under the table, we want the Minister to focus on two major issues that affect BMF members - narrowing the gap between housing demand and supply, and the decarbonisation of heating and electrification of homes”.

John Newcomb noted that Christopher Pincher MP has a steep learning curve and an unenviable in-tray ahead of him. Only last week, the Future Homes Standard consultation closed that sought views on reducing carbon emissions from new homes built after 2025 by changing Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations. The main proposal is to end gas boiler connections in 6 years’ time in favour of heat pumps, heat networks and direct electric heating.

In addition, a major White Paper is due on accelerating planning permission. The Conservatives have a target to build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. If this is to be achieved, Mr Newcomb said there must be unrelenting political determination to simplify and speed up planning approvals to increase housing completions. The whole thrust must be implementation, he added, to enable BMF members to invest confidently in the people and materials and products needed.
Reacting to news that the Rt Hon Christopher Pincher has been appointed as the Minister for Housing. See what the BMF has to say...

Uncertainty looms for construction industry under no deal Brexit 

28 October 2020

The impact of a potential no deal Brexit will bring far-reaching repercussions for the construction sector.

Members of the Construction Leadership Council’s Brexit Movement of Building Products and Materials Group have warned that tariffs, border controls and disruption to the supply chain will impact an industry already balancing the challenges of Covid-19. 

John Newcomb, Co-Chair of the Group and Chief Executive of the Builders Merchants Federation, said: “We need a deal with the EU. 

“Without it, the impact of large-scale price increases across the industry and other issues will present a big blow to the UK economy.

“Our worry is if we have no deal and then go to World Trade Organisation tariffs, we will definitely get significant price increases across this multi-billion-pound sector.”

Peter Caplehorn, fellow Co-Chair of the CLC’s Brexit Movement of Building Products and Materials Group and CEO of the Construction Products Association, said: “In addition to the potential for increased prices the sector is concerned that a no deal will result in further uncertainty over the availability of components, materials, and significant commodity’s. 

“Clearly our members will do everything they can to mitigate these issues but without a deal we will be confronted with some difficult situations just at a time where the industry has robustly responded to the challenges of the pandemic while keeping those employed safe and contributing to the much needed economic recovery. 

“Every effort should be made to ensure a deal is delivered.”

Fears of an impact on prices are echoed by Tom Reynolds, CEO of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association. He said: “Looking ahead new customs procedures will incur significant additional costs on businesses, not all of which can be absorbed.

“A significant proportion of bathroom products come from the EU, so new tariffs, possibly ranging from two to 12 percent will, in most cases, need to be passed through into price rises.”

According to Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, Covid-19 has already affected confidence in the trade, and Brexit uncertainty risks adding to this.

Mr Berry said: “Across several regions, the feedback we have received is that ongoing uncertainty and price increases are having a real impact on builders’ ability to plan for jobs.

“They are struggling to reliably cost jobs and quote for work because they don’t know what the cost of materials will be from one week to the next.”

Concerns about the future are also evident in the supply chain among manufacturers and merchants. 

Andy Williamson, Commercial Director at SIG UK, said: “Most of the feedback we are receiving is around a no deal situation, rather than a deal, which could mean working under WTO rules in a number of areas and this is where possible price increases are coming.”

And Ian McConville, Group Procurement Director, of MKM Building Supplies, added: “We are seeing no evidence of material prices at the moment due to Brexit.

“However, we have seen notifications of potential increases dependent on WTO tariffs being applied.”   
 
The impact of a potential no deal Brexit will bring far-reaching repercussions for the construction sector.

Croydex joins the BMF during Centenary celebrations

5 June 2019

Croydex

One of the latest members to join the BMF is Croydex, the UK-based bathroom accessories manufacturer.

Trusted by the most prominent brands in the trade, Croydex is celebrating 100 years of successfully developing and manufacturing unique, practical bathroom solutions ideal for skilled professionals and tradesman.

Croydex is looking forward to another 100 years of success and promises to be a key supplier member of the BMF family.

Jon Langford, Croydex Commercial Director says, “The history of our business is deeply rooted within the UK merchant industry. Our products and services are heavily aligned to the RMI channel and we have worked for many years with key national, regional and local merchants, delivering excellent product solutions.”

“Our more recent focus on the specification market and commercial washroom applications through our Metlex brand leads to even higher levels of engagement with the merchant channel, so engaging with the key trade association makes impeccable sense. We are really looking forward to supporting the BMF and our merchant partners as part of our recent membership.”

BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “We are delighted to welcome Croydex into membership in this special year of celebrations. This innovative company clearly recognise the value of being part of the largest Trade Association in the Building Materials sector and the only Association representing both Suppliers and Merchants in the industry.”



Find out more about the benefits of BMF membership here
One of the latest members to join the BMF is Croydex, the UK-based bathroom accessories manufacturer.

BMF hosts European merchant trip to share best practice

5 April 2019

UFEMAT visit March 2019The BMF led a fact-finding visit for its counterpart trade bodies in Belgium, Spain, Portugal and several merchants from the Iberian peninsula as part of an initiative to promote wider understanding and best practice between builders merchants across Europe during BMF CEO, John Newcomb’s term as President of UFEMAT, the European Association of National Builders Merchants Associations and Manufacturers.

Representatives from eight European organisations took part in a 3-day field trip hosted by BMF Chairman, Peter Hindle MBE, John Newcomb and the BMF’s Event Manager, June Upton. 

Delegates were briefed on the UK market during a visit to the BMF’s HQ in Coventry before attending the Roofing Cladding and Insulation (RCI) Show at Ricoh Arena. The group also visited branches of two merchants, Selco Builders Warehouse, which has 66 trade-only branches across the county, and EH Smith which serves both trade and DIY customers from 12 branches in the midlands and south east. They were able to hear directly from the branch manager and directors of both operations about the opportunities and challenges faced by UK merchants and the business models they have adopted.

Thanking the BMF for their hospitality, Jaume Rullan, MD of Spanish merchant Bongrup, said: “I would like to express the sincere gratitude we feel for the attention we received during the trip. We have got to know the BMF very well, which has been of great interest, and have also learnt about a series of companies that has shed some light on how the future may look.”

The BMF has now been invited to speak at the Congress of the National Association of Distributors of Ceramics and Construction Materials in Spain later this year to share best practice with a wider audience of their members.

John Newcomb said: “The building materials supply industry throughout Europe shares many similarities.  We can all benefit from sharing experiences and working together to uncover new and better ways of addressing common concerns. I hope this field trip will be the first of many during my term as President of UFEMAT.”


The UFEMAT Annual Congress takes place on 17-19 October 2019 - click here for more details
The BMF led a fact-finding visit for its counterpart trade bodies in Belgium, Spain, Portugal and merchants from the Iberian peninsula to promote wider understanding and best practice between merchants across Europe.

Bradfords CEO appointed to Chair BMF South West region

19 July 2019

David YoungDavid Young, CEO of Bradfords Building Supplies, is the new Chairman of the BMF South West region. David takes over from Julian Milligan, Managing Director of Kellaway.

Founded in 1770, Bradfords Building Supplies is believed to be the oldest builders’ merchant in Britain. Headquartered in Yeovil, the company has 700 employees and 43 stores located across a wide geographical area, from Hereford and Worcester, stretching across the length and breadth of the South West and down into Penzance.

In his position as Chair, David leads the BMF’s activities in the area. His priorities are to encourage more people into the industry, and also create a stimulating environment for debate among members.

David said: “Recruitment is a challenge for us, with low unemployment in the South West leading to issues when recruiting and expanding; but this is a great industry, with many opportunities for training and development, and we need to get that message across.

“I am also keen to drive engagement among the membership across the South West.

“The aim is to make our meetings as interesting and appealing as possible and ensure key live topics are discussed and debated.”

As well as taking the role of BMF Chair in the South West, David also leads the Federation’s national Bricks, Blocks and Landscaping forum.

John Newcomb, CEO of the BMF, said: “David is a passionate supporter of the industry and we are delighted he is chairing our South West region. He brings a wealth of experience to the role.”

David Young, CEO of Bradfords Building Supplies, is the new Chairman of the BMF's South West region. David takes over from Julian Milligan, Managing Director of Kellaway.

Get Britain Building highlights £94bn return from buying British

25 February 2020

Get Britain BuildingA renewed Get Britain Building campaign is urging the government to get behind SME builders and UK manufacturers and distributors of construction products as it ramps up investment in critical infrastructure, public and commercial buildings and housing.

The latest phase of the 11-year old Get Britain Building campaign, which launched on 25 February at the World HQ of JCB, highlights the multiplier effect of buying UK-produced materials and building new homes using local builders, which could deliver a £94bn return to the UK economy at current rates of build.

Led by the Building Alliance, the BMF, and the Federation of Master Builders, the campaign also calls for a major investment in our existing housing stock, to help achieve the government’s Net Zero Carbon target by 2050 and to encourage owner-occupiers to adapt their homes to meet changing needs.

Addressing the skills gap is another priority area, with the campaign calling upon Government to work with the industry and educators to increase the take up of construction apprenticeships and introduce an upskilling programme to encourage continuous improvement across the sector.

Commenting on the campaign, Mike Leonard, CEO of the Building Alliance said: “We are at the start of a new decade, with a new government that has a unique opportunity to build our way to success. Investing in critical infrastructure, public and commercial buildings and housing will support long term economic growth, create jobs and promote social inclusion. The UK needs high quality homes that are safe, flexible, adaptable, resilient and built to last 150 years. We currently manufacture 80% of the materials we use to build new homes in the UK. No other industry can rival this. We must continue to invest in UK manufacturing and support local builders to enjoy the huge economic multiplier that results.”

John Newcomb, CEO of the BMF said: “The building supply chain is vital to our economy, supporting both new build and the upgrading of existing homes. The government must create a UK business environment where manufacturers of construction materials and products have the confidence and desire to invest, particularly at a time when they are asking the industry how best to construct, insulate, heat and ventilate our homes. Furthermore, if we are to achieve net zero by 2050, government must provide confidence and support to homeowners to undertake the necessary upgrades.”

Brian Berry, CEO of the Federation of Master Builders said: “Builders are tackling a skills shortage that could hamper growth in the sector over the new decade. More than half of builders are struggling to hire bricklayers and carpenters, and intermediate apprenticeship starts are in decline. We have the tools we need to turn this around – dedicated builders passionate about their craft – we just need the Government to ensure that the policy landscape allows them to train to a high standard. That means investing in small businesses to create opportunities for young people. The Government has ambitious targets around building a million new homes and reaching a low-carbon standard for new homes by 2025. Master Builders stand ready to meet these challenges but they need the support of Government to help them secure a pipeline of new talent coming through.”

The three organisations behind Get Britain Building are encouraging other industry trade bodies to get involved and add their voices to the campaign.

Mike Leonard concluded: “There is much to support in the government’s outline construction plans, but they need to consult organisations that understand the industry. The experience of all of industry professionals and the research carried out by academics will help to guide practical, workable policies that achieve the best long-term results for our homes, our environment and our industry.”

For further information please contact Mike Leonard 07778 842831 or [email protected].
A renewed Get Britain Building campaign is urging the government to get behind SME builders and UK manufacturers and distributors of construction products as it ramps up investment in critical infrastructure, public and commercial buildings and housi

James Hipkins to chair BMF West Midlands Region


James HipkinsJames Hipkins, MD of Emerys Builders Merchants, is the new Chairman of the BMF West Midlands Region.  James takes over from Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer, Jewson & Managing Director Local Merchant Group.   

James, who grew up in the West Midlands, began his merchanting career as a trainee manager with Jewson in North Wales where, at 24, he became their youngest branch manager at the time.  He joined the Joseph Parr Group as MD Designate of Emerys Builders Merchants in 1999 when Emerys was a small merchant in Stoke on Trent.  Now, it is not only the largest merchant in the area, it also operates a thriving second depot in Telford.

Outside of work he is a passionate restorer of classic cars and bikes and his skills will no doubt come in handy as part of the Emerys team in this year’s Pavestone Rally, which raises money for charity.

Commenting on his appointment, James Hipkins said: “I consider it an honour to be asked and a privilege to take on the role of Chair of the BMF West Midlands Region.  I hope my experience within a national merchant and my current role within an independent merchant puts me in a good position to understand the collective needs and challenges faced by all members of the BMF.”
James Hipkins, MD of Emerys Builders Merchants, is the new Chairman of the BMF West Midlands Region. James takes over from Neil Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer Jewson & Managing Director Local Merchant Group.

BMF, Williamson and Blair agree on vocational training


07 August 2020

BMF, Willianson and Blair agree on vocational trainingGovernment moves to improve the prestige and importance of apprentices with a greater focus on further education are welcome and long-overdue, according to the BMF.

Last month, the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson MP, said he wanted to end the culture of qualifications for qualifications’ sake and to pour money into further education instead. The Minister said there was an inbuilt snobbishness about those who take up vocational training rather than university. Consequently, he was abandoning Tony Blair’s admissions’ target set in 1999 that 50% of young people should go to university and take degrees. The Minister added that he would unveil a new German-style, employer-led further education policy later on this autumn.

This move came in the same week that Euan Blair, son of Tony, criticised the British obsession with a ‘one size fits all’ university education which could result in a skills’ crisis. Mr Blair junior is the Founder and Chief Executive of White Hat, a tech start-up company that matches non-graduates with apprenticeship opportunities.

Interviewed on “Times Radio”, he acknowledged the pledge his father gave 20 years ago, but said that too many leave university with ‘useless’ degrees, huge debts and without the necessary basic skills. Euan Blair wants to encourage school-leavers to take apprenticeships instead.

John Newcomb, BMF Chief Executive, commented:

“This Government announcement is welcome news and endorses the long-held BMF view that bad or non-existent careers advice fails to encourage young people to take an apprenticeship in merchanting, or in manual trades that we desperately need in house-building and property RMI.

“In the post-Brexit and post-Covid 19 economic recovery, all efforts are necessary to tackle prejudice where parents see apprenticeships as being for kids who are educational failures, and teachers put pressure on pupils to go to university because it counts towards school performance in league tables”.
 
As part of its revitalised national youth recruitment campaign, the BMF launched the website Building Materials Careers to showcase the excellent career opportunities throughout the building materials supply chain. This is supported by a team of 55 Industry Ambassadors, drawn from the ranks of the BMF’s members, who promote the wide array of opportunities offered by the industry to students and young job-seekers throughout the country.

BMF Apprenticeships Plus also helps members to recruit and manage apprentices. Over the past three years, 54 member companies have recruited over 200 apprentices with our assistance.

Euan Blair has met the BMF before - notably the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships - where he, the BMF and other employers lobby for parity of esteem between academic and vocational education - and to improve current arrangements like the Apprenticeship Levy.
 
BMF, Willianson and Blair agree on vocational training
Government moves to improve the prestige and importance of apprentices with a greater focus on further education are welcome and long-overdue, according to the BMF.

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Press enquiries for the builders merchants and building materials industry;

The BMF is the only trade association that represents and protects the interests of builders’ merchants and suppliers to the building materials sector in the UK and Ireland.

Total membership from 1 Jan 2024 stands at 950 merchant, supplier and service companies who together have combined sales of over £44.9bn and employ around 208,000 people in the building materials industry. BMF’s 498 merchant members, including 73 now from Ireland, operate from over 5,800 branches across the UK and Ireland.

From the saw-mill, quarry and out onto the shop floor, the BMF has a unique perspective, which is of great value to the media.

For press enquiries regarding the building materials sector/merchants sector, please contact;

Jane Shepherd
[email protected]
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