Building excellence - the BMF's mission for members

by John Newcomb, BMF CEO
12 September 2018

John NewcombOur members are at the heart of everything we do as a Federation and we are passionate about adding value to their businesses. This is why we have been working with the Board to evolve our vision, mission and strategic roadmap for the next three years.  

Having achieved many milestones within our original strategic plan, and seen significant changes in the economic and political landscape during that time, we are now moving onto the next stage to strengthen the building materials supply industry - Building Excellence.   

As part of this process we consulted with members to discover their policy priorities for the coming year.  Their responses will feed into the policy and public affairs briefings we will be giving to politicians during the main party conference season this autumn.  

Over the past 18 months we have given far greater priority to political representation, at Westminster, in the devolved parliaments and major city authorities, to highlight the contribution played by our industry to the economic growth of the country. This will continue to be an important part of our strategy, as well as campaigning on the issues identified by members as being of greatest importance to them.  

Regional view

I spent much of the last month visiting members in different regions, talking to merchants and suppliers from the south of England to the lowlands of Scotland.  While there are regional variations, the overall trading picture following four months of exceptionally dry and warm weather has been pretty positive - a view reflected in the BMF’s Builders MerchantBuilding Index (BMBI) data for Q2.  After taking into account the extra trading day in Q2 2018 over the same period last year, the BMBI reports that merchants saw average daily sales growth of 5.5% year on year.  

The BMBI, which uses point of sale tracking data collated and analysed by the research company GfK, has become the gold standard for merchant sales statistics nationally.  As part of our drive for Building Excellence, we aim to be the leading provider of all industry data.  The next step will be to work with GfK to drill down further to understand differences in regional trading conditions.  This valuable insight will be shared exclusively with members at BMF’s Regional Meetings.  

Developing talent

Attracting and developing talented people within the industry will continue to be one of our main strategic goals.  With the latest group of school-leavers and university graduates entering the job market, we are extremely encouraged that initiatives relating to apprenticeships and higher level qualifications undertaken to date are paying dividends.  

Our 2018 Remuneration Survey found that apprentices nationally made up 7.45% of our total merchant workforce at 30 April 2018, up from 1.12% in 2017.  This is particularly interesting as it contrasts markedly from the apprenticeship trend across all UK industry, where the number of new starts fell dramatically following the introduction of the new apprenticeship funding system in May 2017.  

The BMF has embraced the opportunities afforded by the new system.  There are roles within BMF members for GCSE achievers, A level students and graduates alike. Our challenge now is to build on the initial success and recruit within the merchanting sector greater numbers than ever, from Trade Supplier Level 2 starters to the highest achievers seeking post graduate Level 7 opportunities.  

Find out how we plan to achieve these and other milestones at the BMF Members’ Day Conference on 27 September, where we will be outlining further elements of our strategic plan. Book your place at here

This article appeared in the September 2018 edition of Builders Merchants News (BMN)