BMF News

 

Six shortlisted in BMF Training Awards

17 June 2024

The BMF (Builders Merchants Federation) has announced the six companies that have been nominated for the title BMF Training Company of the Year 2024.  They are Haldane Fisher, Harlow Timber Group, Howarth Timber and Builders Merchants, IBMG, LBS Builders Merchants and MGM Timber.

Nominated by BMF Regional Managers, who work closely with members in their area to satisfy training and other service requirements, the six shortlisted companies were selected for their commitment to supporting and developing their teams through their use of BMF training.

Haldane Fisher consistently support colleagues with learning and development opportunities that assist the individual’s career development while promoting the company’s customer service ethos.  Throughout the past 12 months Haldane Fisher has employed a wide range of classroom-based and online learning programmes including Margin Development, Maximising Margin, Sales Training and Effective Time Management.  They are also heavily engaged with the BMF in developing apprenticeships for the building materials sector in Northern Ireland.

Harlow Timber Group proactively utilise learning programmes designed to enhance their teams’ skills and knowledge as well as making a positive impact on the overall customer experience.  Leadership teams benefit from bespoke programmes, the company having worked directly with the BMF to create the Harlow Timber Group 8 Module Management Development programme specifically designed for current and future key colleague development and next generation succession planning. Technical knowledge is addressed through BMF’s How a House is Built course, and the company provides opportunities for development through apprenticeships. Colleagues are further supported with mental health awareness programmes. 

Howarth Timber and Building Supplies continue to develop their team across all levels, ensuring all customer-facing staff are equipped with the tools they need to engage with customers competently and professionally.  In addition to their commitment to the BMF Diploma in Merchant Management, with a further eight candidates embarking on the programme in 2024/25, Howarth ensure that new employees develop a good understanding of the building process through the BMF’s How a House is Built course.

The IBMG Group, as a growing independent merchant group of companies, have identified people-development and engagement as a key part of their strategy. They are currently working with the BMF on a new Management Development Programme for senior managers and potential managers and also use bespoke courses developed with BMF trainers that can be implemented throughout the business – at group and individual company level - as required. They are also committed to recruiting and developing apprentices and have pledged to recruit 200 by 2030.

LBS Builders Merchants take a pro-active approach to learning and development. supporting staff at each stage of their career.  They use the BMF Campus online platform to offer LBS staff a wider variety of online learning with over 170 active learners having approved individual learning plans on this system.  LBS also utilise the BMF Diploma/Certificate in Merchant Management programmes and the ISME accredited BMF Essential Sales Management course as well as short classroom-based programmes including the BMF Yard Supervisors Toolkit.

MGM Timber have found that investing in their staff’s career development helps promote workforce stability.  Their learning and development support shows their team that there is a pathway to new job roles within the company, without having to move on to pastures new to progress their careers.  BMF courses undertaken in the past year include Essential Sales, Maximising Margin, How a House is Built, Yard Supervisors Toolkit and a Commercial Fast Track course that in one case alone, increased the sales at a single branch by over £1million.

Commenting on the nominations, BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “Training is an essential resource for merchants seeking to continue the development of colleagues at every level. The six companies nominated by BMF Regional Managers understand this.  They have made learning and development a priority and are reaping the benefits within their business.  They are all worthy candidates for this Award, and I wish them well.”

The overall winner will be announced at the BMF Members’ Day Awards Dinner, which takes place on 19 September 2024, after the BMF Members’ Day Annual Conference at the Leonardo Hotel and Conference Venue at Hinckley Island in Leicestershire.

The BMF (Builders Merchants Federation) has announced the six companies that have been nominated for the title BMF Training Company of the Year 2024.

 

Wet weather instrumental in building material sales fall

14 June 2024

A year-on-year fall in sales for a key UK economy bellwether has been followed by flatlining GDP in April.

Experts at national trade body, the BMF (Builders Merchants Federation), had already warned of a ‘difficult year ahead’ before figures showing GDP had flatlined in April were released by the Office for National Statistics.

The BMF’s quarterly analysis of building materials supply – the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) – found sales in Q1 2024 had dropped by 7.2% when compared to the first three months of last year.

BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “The first quarter’s results reflect the lowest number of housing starts in over a decade and a general lack of consumer confidence.

“Matters were not helped by adverse weather conditions in February and March delaying work. Experts writing in our quarterly BMBI report were already warning of a difficult year ahead before the ONS figures revealed even more wet weather caused GDP to flatline in April.

“After the election, our hope is a continued fall in the rate of inflation and a reduction in interest rates creates a greenlight for public projects, boosts confidence in the housing market and encourages commercial and industrial projects to proceed.”

The BMBI uses GfK’s point of sale tracking data drawn from 88 per cent of builders’ merchants sales throughout the country. It is considered the most reliable measure of supply activity for a sector that reflects the ‘mood of the nation’ around home repair, maintenance and improvement.

A year-on-year fall in sales for a key UK economy bellwether has been followed by flatlining GDP in April.

 

Launch of BMF All Industry Conference 2025 most successful to date

10 June 2024

The BMF has confirmed that the launch of the 2025 BMF All Industry Conference has been the most successful to date, with early bird places selling out on launch day.

The Conference, which will be held in Barcelona from 12 to 15 June 2025, takes the theme Building Tomorrow Together.  The five-star Torre Melina hotel, set in 25,000 square metres of beautiful gardens with views across the city, is the venue for the event, which will be hosted by Mark Durden-Smith.  The sport and lifestyle presenter returns to this role by popular demand following his outstanding performance at the last BMF All Industry Conference in 2023.

BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “There has been an amazing response to the announcement of our next Conference with over 30% more merchant places sold on the first day.  In total 170 places were sold – 92 merchant and 78 sponsor.  This is the first time we have sold out of early bird rates on the day of the launch.”

Barcelona is known for its rich culture, art and architecture, including the most visited monument in Spain, Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, and provides the perfect backdrop for the Conference. It is also extremely accessible by various means of transport, an important factor in choosing this destination.

John Newcomb explained: “Once again, we are determined to make our 2025 Conference as sustainable as possible. With transport a major factor in global CO2 emissions, the flying time to Barcelona is much shorter than previous destinations; it is also easy to reach by train or by road. Wherever possible we will be using local suppliers, recyclable materials and reducing single use materials and printed items.”

With places selling fast, those wishing to attend are advised to register as soon as possible.  Merchants should book online at https://bit.ly/BMF2025All_Industry while Suppliers should email [email protected] or [email protected]

The BMF thanks headline sponsor, ACO, and key sponsors BMN, Breedon, Intact, Kerridge Commercial Systems, Knauf, Knauf Insulation, Marsh, Polypipe, Unilin and Velux. For full information on the Conference, please visit www.bmfconference2025.co.uk

The BMF has confirmed that the launch of the 2025 BMF All Industry Conference has been the most successful to date, with early bird places selling out on launch day.

 

TTJ Timber Merchanting Development Award search underway

06 June 2024

The TTJ Timber Merchanting Development Award – the annual search for excellence in timber merchanting – is open for entries. The merchanting award, which is organised in association with the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), forms part of the annual TTJ Awards – the UK timber industry’s leading annual awards event.

 The judged category, open to builders’ and timber merchants, is designed to reward companies which have invested in their businesses to foster growth, improve efficiency and better serve their customers. The Award is particularly aimed at initiatives and investments to develop and improve the timber side of businesses.

This may involve a range of actions covering, for example (but not limited to), improving the timber product range, delivery service, site and infrastructure investment (buildings, handling equipment, storage, showrooms/shop), investment in management/ordering software, machinery and initiatives to educate the end-user in correct timber specification.

“We want to hear about projects, investments and improvements which merchants have made to their timber business,” said TTJ editor Stephen Powney. “Forward-thinking companies are always looking at ways to improve their operations to take their business to that extra level, and together with the BMF, we’d like to shine a light on some of the best initiatives out there.”

The BMF is the only trade association representing merchants and suppliers in the UK and Ireland, with a vision to enable members to build excellence in the building materials sector. Total membership from May 1, 2024 stands at 950 merchant and supplier companies who together have combined sales of over £45.3bn and employ under 200,000 people in the building materials sector. The BMF’s 502 merchant members, including 79 now from Ireland, operate from over 6,400 branches across the UK and Ireland.

To enter the TTJ Timber Merchanting Development Award and download an entry form visit TTJ Awards. Entries should be submitted by June 21.

The TTJ Awards 2024, the 28th edition of the popular event, is a lunchtime awards ceremony that will take place at Hilton London Bankside on September 20. It attracts companies from the whole timber supply chain, including sawmills, distributors, merchants, importers, contractors, specifiers and wood product manufacturers.

For more details visit TTJAwards2024. For more information and Ticket & Sponsorship enquiries about the TTJ Awards contact Chidi Adilih at +44 (0) 20 7406 6739 / [email protected]

The TTJ Timber Merchanting Development Award – the annual search for excellence in timber merchanting – is open for entries.

 

Primaflow F&P joins the BMF

03 June 2024

Primaflow F&P, the largest distributor of plumbing, heating and bathroom materials in the UK is the latest in a growing cohort of plumbing and heating specialists to join the Builders Merchants Federation.

 

The company supports 4,500 independent merchants, distributing around 12,500 products on its own fleet of over 100 vehicles. With a mission to “Simply Deliver More”, Primaflow F&P provides a market-leading service, with next day delivery completed out of 10 regional transport hubs.

 

Primaflow F&P CEO, Charlie Lacey said:

 

“The majority of our customers are independent merchants who we support with a fast, friendly, reliable, and professional service. Our aim is to understand our customers’ needs and deliver solutions, not just products. Membership of the BMF will provide us with a further opportunity to support this vital sector and we are looking forward to playing an active role in the Federation.”

 

BMF CEO, John Newcomb said:

 

“Plumbing & Heating is an important sector within the BMF, with 15% of members categorised as P&H specialists, and most generalist merchants also servicing the P&H needs of their customers. We are delighted to welcome Primaflow F&P to the BMF community and look forward to working with them.”

Primaflow F&P, the largest distributor of plumbing, heating and bathroom materials in the UK is the latest in a growing cohort of plumbing and heating specialists to join the Builders Merchants Federation.

 

IBMG CEO to speak at BMF Annual Conference


28 May 2024

Martin Stables, CEO of the Independent Builders Merchant Group (IBMG), has been confirmed as one of three industry speakers at the BMF Members’ Annual Conference in September.

Martin joined the Independent Builders Merchant Group as CCO in 2021, following over 20 years in the industry with Saint-Gobain’s Merchanting brands.  He was appointed CEO in 2022 and heads a talented management team overseeing one of the most successful merchant groups in southern England, which has seen rapid growth from a combination of M&A, new branch openings, and organic growth since 2018.

Martin is passionate about the historic legacy and trading DNA of IBMG’s independent brands and how best to integrate and optimise local brands with the investment levels and support functions now available across the wider Group.

He will discuss his experience alongside two other industry speakers representing house builders and building material manufacturers during the Industry Forum, a regular feature at the BMF conference.  The session will conclude with a Q&A.

BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “The rise of regional merchant groups has been a major aspect of the building materials landscape in recent years. IBMG has been at the forefront of this trend, and I am looking forward to hearing Martin’s views on what the future holds.”

The BMF’s annual flagship event will take place on 18 and 19 September at the Leonardo Hotel and Conference Venue at Hinckley Island in Leicestershire. In addition to informative and entertaining conference sessions, interactive workshops and exhibition, the event encompasses sporting and social networking opportunities, including the BMF Golf Tournament and a black-tie Awards Dinner celebrating members’ achievements.

For more information and to book your place at the BMF Annual Conference and Awards , headline sponsor Unilin Insulation, please visit http://tinyurl.com/5n8xbxrc or contact [email protected]

Martin Stables, CEO of the Independent Builders Merchant Group (IBMG), has been confirmed as one of three industry speakers at the BMF Members’ Annual Conference in September.

Young Achievers event boosts BMF charity fundraising


22 May 2024

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) raised £11,000 for its charity of the year, Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, at a gala dinner for the Top 100 Young Achievers in the building materials sector.

The event, held at the Belfry Hotel, celebrated 100 individuals, aged 40 or under, drawn from merchant, supplier and service companies within the industry. All those recognised have made a significant difference within their company and are set to carry the industry forward in the future.

This is the third year a gala dinner has been held to acknowledge those with the greatest influence in the building materials sector, with merchants and suppliers being honoured at previous events. This year’s celebration, attended by over 200 people, was not only the largest in the series, but it also raised the greatest sum for charity.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said:

“The status of the Top 100 is growing each year and it was particularly pleasing that our biggest event to date shone a spotlight on a cohort of young leaders who are stepping up to drive our industry forward.

“Our thanks go to our co-hosts, Builders Merchants News and our headline sponsor NMBS One Place, together with our other sponsors and those donating raffle and auction prizes. Thanks also to everyone who helped to raise such a fantastic sum for Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity.”

Lighthouse Construction Industry charity is the only charity that is 100% dedicated to the emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing of construction workers and their families.

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) raised £11,000 for its charity of the year, Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, at a gala dinner for the Top 100 Young Achievers in the building materials sector.

New Guidance on Trade Credit Insurance

Following reports that members were finding it more difficult to obtain trade credit insurance, The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has been working with members, the Department of Business and Trade, and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to uncover the extent of the issues and provide guidance to help ameliorate their effect.

A survey of BMF members confirmed that credit insurance is recognised as a valuable business tool in the construction sector, with 45% of respondents using this solution. 

The survey revealed other notable trends, including an inevitable hardening of the market over the past 12 months. Significant changes include increased insolvency activity and related business concerns for the year ahead. 

However, despite the impact of bad debts due to insolvency, almost half of respondents have not experienced credit limit reductions.  

When limits were reduced, respondents acknowledged the increased credit risk reported by their insurer and took appropriate actions. 

The insurance industry is supportive of clients facing credit limit reductions, with 68% of respondents finding insurers receptive to appeals.

The insights gained from the survey provided valuable context on the current landscape in the building materials sector and informed the BMF’s detailed discussions with the ABI, which has led them to produce a guidance document specifically for the construction industry, which is fully supported by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC).

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: 

“Overall trade credit insurance remains an essential tool for our sector, with a significant portion of survey respondents expressing concern about bad debts affecting their business.  
We are pleased that the outcome of our discussions with the ABI provides new guidance which will help members when dealing with their trade credit insurance provider.”

Lucy Fraser, Senior Policy Adviser, General Insurance Policy at ABI said:
 
“Amidst challenging conditions, insurers are doing all they can to offer crucial support to businesses, with a 23% surge in claims paid by the close of last year. Our Guide for Construction is there to show how trade credit insurance can act as an essential lifeline for businesses and it offers guiding insights on what information an insurer will look for.”
 
The bespoke ABI Guidance Document can be downloaded from https://www.shorturl.at/zCET2

The summary information from the BMF's member survey can be found here: 

https://shorturl.at/fqHMP

The BMF, working with its members and the Dept of Business & Trade and the ABI has looked at the issues with obtaining trade credit insurance.

FMB President to speak at BMF Annual Conference


25 April 2024

Chris Carr, National President of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), is the first industry speaker to be confirmed for the BMF Members’ Annual Conference in September.

Chris is Managing Director of a fourth-generation family housing developing company, Carr and Carr (Builders) Ltd, based in North East Lincolnshire.  The company builds small developments and executive homes around the towns of Grimsby, Cleethorpes and the surrounding Lincolnshire Wolds.

Chris is passionate about the construction industry, especially the house building sector. In addition to his role at the Federation of Master Builders, he is a member of the Construction Leadership Advisory Group, Chair of the Construction Leadership Council’s SME Housebuilders Group and represents smaller housing development companies on several Future Homes Hub sub-groups. 

Chris will discuss his experience as a developer committed to building high quality homes alongside two other industry speakers representing builders’ merchants and building materials manufacturers.  The session will conclude with a Q&A.

BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “SME builders are an important customer group for our members. I am really looking forward to hearing Chris’s perspective on the sector, in particular what his company is doing to make a material difference both for their customers and the wider industry.”

The BMF’s annual flagship event will take place on 18 and 19 September at the Leonardo Hotel and Conference Venue at Hinckley Island in Leicestershire. In addition to informative and entertaining conference sessions, interactive workshops and exhibition, the event encompasses sporting and social networking opportunities, including the BMF Golf Tournament and a black-tie Awards Dinner celebrating members’ achievements.

For more information and to book your place at the BMF Annual Conference and Awards , headline sponsor Unilin Insulation, please visit http://tinyurl.com/5n8xbxrc or contact [email protected]

Chris Carr, National President of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), is the first industry speaker to be confirmed for the BMF Members’ Annual Conference in September.

BMF welcomes changes to 20mph speed limit in Wales


22 April 2024

A trade association, which campaigned for a review of the 20mph speed limit in Wales, has welcomed moves to change the policy, as announced by Ken Skates MS, Cabinet Secretary for North Wales and Transport.

The Builders Merchants Federation, which represents the country’s building materials supply chain, took action after its members reported a range of issues, including delivery disruption affecting stock levels and waiting times.

David Pattison (pictured), South Wales Regional Chairman of the BMF, wrote to Ken Skates and First Minister, Vaughan Gething, last month, urging a review of the policy.

Commenting on the news of changes to government policy, Mr Pattison said: “Nobody can reasonably quibble with having sensible, well-defined and enforceable 20mph speed limits at certain locations, notably outside schools, hospitals and care homes”.

“But the BMF agrees with other business and motoring organisations that regard the 20mph default speed limit on Welsh roads as a misguided and counterproductive policy, which will not deliver the assumed benefits”.

“We are pleased that ministers have listened to BMF views and the constructive ideas we put forward we think will lessen the impact on our supply chain.

“We look forward to hearing Mr Skates’ statement to the Senedd with the details”.


 
A trade association, which campaigned for a review of the 20mph speed limit in Wales, has welcomed moves to change the policy, as announced by Ken Skates MS, Cabinet Secretary for North Wales and Transport.

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Press enquiries for the builders merchants and building materials industry;

The BMF (Builders Merchants Federation) 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 Apr 2024 stands at 950 merchant, supplier and service companies who together have combined sales of over £45.3bn and employ just under 200,000 people in the building materials industry. The BMF’s 502 merchant members, including 79 now from Ireland, operate from over 6,400 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]
07985 129315
01538 308685