Counting the cost
by John Newcomb, BMF CEO
27 February 2018
a start to the year! I’m writing this in the week that Carillion went
into liquidation. By the time you read this, the impact on the building
materials supply chain – as well as on thousands of Carillion employees
and hundreds of sub-contractors – will no doubt be clearer.
Within days of the collapse we were asked to gather information from
members to help inform the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial
Strategy (BEIS) on the level of exposure to Carillion and potential
issues that may arise across the supply chain.
Our initial survey indicated that few merchants are directly affected,
but some are likely to be indirectly exposed through customers who are,
or were, Carillion sub-contractors. It is well-known that Carillion
operated on 120 day payment terms and most of their sub-contractors are
owed money for work carried out prior to the liquidation. It may,
therefore, take time to discover the full effect on our sector, and the
greatest impact may well be felt in the longer term and not in the first
days, or weeks, following Carillion’s collapse.
Leading on from this, we are calling on the Government to take immediate
steps to promote and enforce the Construction Supply Chain Payment
Charter (CSCPC), which is designed to ensure that payments are made to
the supply chain within 30 days.
We have also made it clear that there are great opportunities available
for Carillion apprentices, and other staff, to move into the building
materials industry. Through our own Apprenticeships Training Agency and
our dedicated recruitment portal we can offer recruitment options to
former Carillion employees who would like to find out more about
furthering their career in the materials supply sector.
In recent years, the BMF
has placed a priority on raising our profile in parliamentary circles,
developing policy papers to influence the parties, their strategists
& spokesmen, and building relationships with parliamentarians and
their advisors. Our overriding aim is to develop their understanding of
the role, value and importance of the building materials’ supply chain
within the wider construction industry.
It is highly appropriate that the first event we are holding to celebrate our landmark anniversary year is a Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons
This takes place on 24 April and will bring together an invited
audience of BMF members, MPs and Peers. The event celebrates the BMF’s
110th anniversary as a trade association and its 40th anniversary as a
Federation by looking to the future and highlighting the talents and
opportunity of the next generation of merchants, and the vibrancy and
resilience of the industry. Speakers at the event will include a
representative of the BMF Young Merchants’ Group and the Minister for
Apprenticeships and Skills.
The importance the BMF places on building relationships throughout parliament
is also evidenced by our regular programme of MP visits to merchants
around the country. The most recent was a visit by Rupa Huq MP for
Ealing Central & Acton, to Lords Builders Merchants in Park Royal,
Ealing, in the lead up to local elections in all London Boroughs in May.
With affordable housing a key concern for many Londoners, Dr Huq heard
how the building materials supply chain is responding to today’s housing
A year of anniversaries
Finally, the BMF is not alone in marking significant milestones
Several of our members also have important anniversaries to celebrate.
Our congratulations to them all, but prizes for longevity must surely
go to Elliotts for their 175th anniversary last year, and Bradfords, who
served their first customer in 1770 and are rapidly approaching 250
years supporting local trades. That surely takes some beating!
This article appeared in the February edition of Builders' Merchants News (BMN)