BMF News

Sporting heroes Backley and Black to give Keynote Address at BMF Virtual Conference


12 August 2020

Backley and BlackThe BMF has announced two sporting heroes, Olympic medallists Steve Backley OBE and Roger Black MBE, as Keynote Speakers at the Virtual BMF AGM and Members Conference  on 17 September 2020.  

The sporting duo will also host one of the “Training Taster” sessions taking place on the day.

For over a decade, Steve Backley was one of Britain’s most consistent athletes and established himself as one of the all-time greats of his sport, with seven gold championship medals, three world records, two Olympic silver medals and one bronze.  He is the only British track and field competitor to win medals at three different Olympic Games in Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney.  When he finally hung up his javelin at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, he was still one of the world’s best, placing fourth in the final.

As an individual 400 metre runner and as a member of the 4x400 metre relay team Roger Black represented Great Britain for fourteen years. He successfully overcame several serious injuries during his career, winning fifteen major Championship medals including European, Commonwealth and World gold medals and Olympic silver.

Steve and Roger are not only accomplished and entertaining motivational speakers, they have also teamed up to develop Mind-Setting, a new online coaching programme to help individuals optimise their performance.  Delegates can find out more at a 30-minute Training Taster session, which will follow their Keynote address.

The BMF thanks our Virtual Conference headline sponsor, Marshalls/Stonemarket, the Building a Sustainable Britain session sponsor Kerridge Commercial Systems, and Keynote Speaker sponsor, UK Construction Week.

To find our more and book your place for the BMF AGM & Business Conference  on 17 September 2020, contact june.upton@bmf.org.uk
 
Backley and Black
The BMF has announced two sporting heroes, Olympic medallists Steve Backley OBE and Roger Black MBE, as Keynote Speakers at the Virtual BMF AGM and Members Conference on 17 September 2020.

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.

BMF and TrustMark to deliver quality supply chain for Green Homes Grant


TrustMark to deliver qualoty supply chain for Green Homes Grant05 August 2020

The BMF will work in partnership with TrustMark to ensure that homeowners can be confident of the quality of both the materials and the workmanship of projects completed under the new Green Homes Grant scheme.

The Government is urging tradespeople to sign up for TrustMark accreditation in a drive to support 100,000 new jobs to fulfil the new energy efficiency scheme, which will give over 600,000 homeowners in England up to £10,000 to install insulation, heat pumps and draft proofing to help them cut energy bills.

TrustMark has strict accreditation rules for tradespeople involved in the scheme, which covers green home improvements ranging from insulation of walls, floors and roofs to the installation of low-carbon heating, including heat pumps or solar thermal – measures that could help families save up to £600 a year on their energy bills.

BMF supplier members manufacture the products that will be installed into homes under scheme rules and BMF merchant members provide the major distribution channel for these materials.  The BMF and TrustMark will work together to ensure the quality of the supply chain from manufacture to project completion.  A dedicated page on the TrustMark website will list, by region, the BMF members participating in the scheme.

The BMF will also help TrustMark facilitate specialist product training for tradespeople signing up for the scheme, using the trade body’s extensive physical and on-line training capacity. The BMF has also offered its 32 Centres of Excellence across the country as potential training centres, with a number of these already located at insulation specialists such as Encon, Knauf, Saint Gobain, SIG, Superglass and Xtratherm.

The two bodies will hold a working group meeting on 13 August to finalise details, with a number of BMF merchant and supplier members involved in initial discussions.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: 

“We are excited to work with TrustMark to develop the quality supply route required to facilitate an anticipated 600,000 projects through the Green Homes Grant.  BMF supplier members are at the forefront of product development in insulation and heat pump technology and our merchant members account for over 80% of trade distribution channels, making this a natural partnership.  

“We fully support this Government initiative that will not only cut energy bills for consumers and reduce the country’s carbon emissions but will also support over 100,000 jobs for skilled tradespeople.” 

Simon Ayers, Chief Executive of TrustMark said: 

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the BMF and build a partnership that takes in the whole supply chain.

“Consumer confidence is not only essential to the recovery of the UK economy but also to the protection and creation of key jobs that will support the long-term delivery of quality green home improvements.

“TrustMark accredited tradespeople working with a recognised supply chain will provide homeowners with the confidence they need that those working on their homes have been thoroughly vetted for technical competence, customer services and trading practices.”

The £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme goes live at the end September.  Consumers in England will be able to claim the new vouchers, which are worth up to £5,000 for homeowners. Households on low income can receive vouchers covering 100% of the cost of the improvements, up to a maximum of £10,000.
Green Homes Grants will give homeowners, including owner occupiers and social/private landlords, vouchers to install one or more of the following:
solid wall, under-floor, cavity wall or roof insulation
air source or ground source heat pump
solar thermal

In addition, households can use their voucher for further energy saving measures. These include one or more of the following:
double or triple glazing/secondary glazing, when replacing single glazing
upgrading to energy efficient doors
hot water tank/appliance tank thermostats/heating controls
 
TrustMark to deliver qualoty supply chain for Green Homes Grant
The BMF will work in partnership with TrustMark to ensure that homeowners can be confident of the quality of both the materials and the workmanship of projects completed under the new Green Homes Grant scheme.

BMF prioritises housing & business support for post-Covid recovery in Wales


28 July 2020

BMF prioritises housing & business supportThe BMF has written to the Welsh Minister for Housing and Local Government with practical suggestions to support the building supply chain and lay the foundations for long-term, enduring economic recovery.

The BMF, whose Welsh members account for approximately £2.8 billion annual sales and employ more than 3,000 people, encouraged the Welsh Government to invest in building more homes in Wales and to introduce a similar scheme to the Green Homes Grant in England to incentivise homeowners and landlords to improve the thermal and energy performance of existing homes.

The BMF also prioritised support for businesses across the building supply chain through business rate holidays for merchants who were forced to close temporarily, making it easier for SMEs to bid for public procurement contracts post-Brexit and excluding firms from public procurement if they do not pay promptly.

BMF CEO, John Newcomb said:  “The BMF is a member of the Wales Construction Federation Alliance along with others who represent the construction, house-building and property RMI industries. At a recent meeting the Minister asked what really matters to the supply chain and we welcomed the opportunity to provide our thoughts on how best to focus their efforts recovery.” 
 
BMF prioritises housing & business support
The BMF has written to the Welsh Minister for Housing and Local Government with practical suggestions to support the building supply chain.

BMF and h&b announce group membership scheme


27 July 2020

All full Members of the h&b Buying Group will become members of the BMF from 1 August 2020 following the conclusion of a group membership agreement between the two organisations.

h&b is one of the UK’s largest co-operative buying organisations for independent merchants with a collective buying power of nearly £1 billion.

There are currently 61 h&b full Members in BMF membership and the remaining 23 will join the BMF in August.  Any new h&b full Members will be auto-enrolled into BMF membership during the period of the agreement. 

The BMF and h&b will also work together to agree specific training requirements for h&b members and develop programmes to encourage maximum participation.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: 

“This is a landmark occasion.  The BMF has long enjoyed a positive relationship with h&b and I am naturally delighted that this mutually beneficial agreement moves it up another level.

“I have made it my personal mission to develop the membership of the BMF and strengthen our sectors’ profile and influence, both within the wider construction industry and with legislative bodies.   The last few months have shown how far we have travelled in that direction, demonstrating the strength that comes from acting together and the collective benefits that brings.”

Jamie Wyatt, h&b Trading Director said:

“This is a major step forward in the relationship of h&b and the BMF.  With many h&b members already taking an active role in the BMF we have been considering a more formalised agreement for some time.  The value of a strong and proactive trade body became even more evident as individual merchants sought to navigate the Covid crisis and the clear and authoritative response of the BMF was apparent.  

“The benefits afforded by this agreement fit well with the h&b ethos and our future plans. The time is right to move forward with the BMF.” 
 
All full Members of the h&b Buying Group will become members of the BMF from 1 August 2020 following the conclusion of a group membership agreement between the two organisations.

BMF confirms Virtual Members Conference for 2020


24 July 2020

With social distancing measures still in place, the BMF has confirmed that this year’s Members Conference & Awards cannot be held as planned at the De Vere Beaumont Estate in September.  

Instead, the 2020 BMF AGM & Business Conference will go ahead as a half-day virtual event  on 17 September 2020, sponsored by Marshalls/Stonemarket. 

Sadly this year’s annual Golf tournament, social events and Awards Dinner have been cancelled, but the BMF plans to hold a full 2-day Members’ event at the De Vere Beaumont Estate in September 2021.

This year’s Virtual Conference format can accommodate up to 300 delegates. There will be no charge for the event but delegates must reserve their place in advance.

While some amendments have been made to the agenda, the programme is packed with informative content around the Conference theme of Sustaining Excellence – a topic that takes on even more importance as the industry seeks to reset and recover in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the key elements of the day is an hour-long session on Building a Sustainable Britain, featuring the Rt. Hon. John Gummer, Lord Deben, as the headline speaker. Lord Deben has consistently championed an identity between environmental concerns and business sense. He was the longest serving Secretary of State for the Environment the UK has ever had (1993-97) and now Chairs the Committee on Climate Change as well as running Sancroft a corporate responsibility consultancy working with blue-chip companies around the world.  

Lord Deben will be joined by Megan Adlen, Head of Sustainability for Travis Perkins. As well as setting sustainability strategy and targets, Megan leads the company’s responsible sourcing and anti-slavery agendas and manages the Group Environment team.  Travis Perkins will publish its own net zero targets before the end of 2020 and is committed to engaging with others in driving change to optimise carbon reduction across the construction industry value chain.

Other elements of the day include the BMF’s Annual General Meeting, industry and keynote speakers and a choice of training and membership services taster sessions.

The BMF will also use the occasion to announce their exciting plans for the All Industry Conference 2021, which is set to bring the building materials industry together in person once more.

BMF CEO, John Newcomb said:

“Covid-19 restrictions made it impossible for us to go ahead with a hotel-based Conference at the De Vere Beaumont Estate in Old Windsor as planned, but we will now hold our 2021 Members’ event there.

“We were determined that our 2020 Members Conference and AGM should continue and I would encourage as many members as possible to attend. We will be using bespoke Conference technology to facilitate our biggest event of the year online, with 300 places available. It may be a new format, but it will still deliver huge value.  

“Delegates will also be the first to hear about the ‘live’ All Industry Conference we are currently planning for 2021.”

To find our more and book your place for the BMF AGM & Business Conference  on 17 September 2020, contact june.Upton@bmf.org.uk
 
With social distancing measures still in place, the BMF has confirmed that this year’s Members Conference & Awards cannot be held as planned at the De Vere Beaumont Estate in September.

Builders Merchants amongst first employers to sign up for talent scheme


24 July 2020

Companies employing more than 100,000 people have signed up to support the Construction Leadership Council’s Talent Retention Scheme as it goes live today (24 July 2020).  

The Construction Talent Retention Scheme is a not-for-profit programme, backed by Government, business organisations, professional institutions and construction unions.

The online portal allows skilled individuals to showcase their experience and expertise and helps businesses across the industry find the skills they need. 

There has been strong interest in the Scheme since it was announced as part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Plan for Jobs earlier this month. 

More than 350 employers have signed up to use the Scheme. These companies – drawn from across Britain - range from multinational engineering giants, through building product manufacturers and merchants to SME builders. Early adopters in the merchant sector who have roles listed at launch include Bradfords, MP Moran & Sons and Travis Perkins.

Construction Minister and Construction Leadership Council co-chair Nadhim Zahawi MP said: “Building new homes, accelerating infrastructure, and making sure people have the right skills are all at the heart of the government’s plans to build back better from Covid-19.

Launching today, this scheme will help to retain vital knowledge within the construction industry, enabling businesses to rapidly recruit talented individuals and reduce skills shortages at this pivotal time in the nation’s economic recovery.” 

John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation said: “The Construction Leadership Council moved quickly, working with Government to develop a portal designed to keep vital skills built up over many years within the industry.  The Talent Retention Scheme can play a major role in securing the construction sector’s long-term recovery and I am delighted that builders’ merchants are amongst the first employers to sign up and support the Scheme.”

The free-to-use site allows the redeployment of staff at risk of redundancy and enables temporary employee loans between businesses. 

It also gives displaced workers from other sectors a route to find new employment.

The platform offers a fully featured system allowing companies to easily search candidates’ online profiles and CVs on a local, regional and national basis.

It allows you to promote and directly manage information about your business, services, latest vacancies, news and events to skilled workers seeking new opportunities and to contact them directly.

The site is now live at www.clc-talentretention.co.uk  and is open to both businesses and candidates looking for work.
 
Companies employing more than 100,000 people have signed up to support the Construction Leadership Council’s Talent Retention Scheme as it goes live today (24 July 2020).

Builders’ merchant sales bounce back in May


22 July 2020

BMBI May 2020The latest figures from the May Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report reveal a sharp rise in sales as lockdown restrictions ease and trades return to work. 

Year-on-year, Total Builders Merchants value sales in May were down -39.9% compared with May 2019, reflecting the cautious reopening of merchant branches with many still operating a restricted service. However, the overall trading figures are a significant improvement on April 2020 sales (-76.3%). 

A closer look at how individual product categories performed in May reveals that year-on-year, Tools (-66.1%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (-62.7%) have been hit hardest by the pandemic lockdown. Timber & Joinery Products were also down by 40.5% over the same period, however month-on-month, the category is showing some green shoots of recovery with sales more than tripling compared to April 2020 (+199.5%). Heavy Building Materials, the largest product category, was down 39.0% year-on-year but showed a substantial month-on-month improvement on April 2020 (+157.6%). 

The biggest winner in May was Landscaping, with sales of this seasonal category down just -12.5% on May 2019. This is a remarkable recovery from April, when sales were down a massive -74.4% compared to April 2019. Workwear & Safetywear was less affected by the lockdown, with demand for PPE continuing to drive sales. 

The BMBI is a brand of the Builders’ Merchants Federation, developed and produced by MRA Marketing. The Index uses GfK’s Builders Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data which analyses sales out data from over 80% of generalist builders’ merchants’ sales across Great Britain, making it the most reliable source of data for the sector.

BMF CEO John Newcomb comments: “As expected, May’s sales figures show a huge year-on-year decline, but they also indicate the strength of the initial bounce-back from April’s COVID-19 crash low-point. The massive effort by the entire supply chain to develop and implement COVID-secure working practices to enable the safe and rapid re-opening of manufacturing facilities, merchant branches and construction sites can be seen in May’s results. There is a long way to go on the road to recovery, but we can look on this as a positive first step.”

Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade at GfK adds: “The Builders Merchants sector has seen a strong and expected recovery from April’s lockdown as the core categories of Heavy Building Materials, Timber & Joinery and Landscaping drive market activity. May growth is still down by -40% from last year, with the next couple of months critical. Favourable weather conditions and relaxed restrictions will hopefully provide the platform for these core categories to recover some of the losses seen during lockdown.”

Download the May report, watch the round table videos and learn more about the Experts at www.thebmbi.co.uk.
 
BMBI May 2020
The latest figures from the May Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report reveal a sharp rise in sales as lockdown restrictions ease and trades return to work.

BMF, MPs and SMEs call for planning investment


20 July 2020

MP Andrew LewerMore investment is needed urgently in the planning function of local authorities, and in the training of planners and other related professionals, if the industry is to build anywhere near 300,000 new homes per year. That is not just the view of the BMF - but also MPs keen to showcase and promote smaller firms as vital players in the mix of housing solutions.

This is one of several recommendations of a report published this week in the House of Commons by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for SME Housebuilders. Members were asked what the problems with the planning system are - and what the solutions may be. It found that staff shortages in local planning authorities were the top issue faced by SME house-builders.

Chairman Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South, unveiled the report that describes ways to improve planning permission from the perspective of users - SME builders and developers.  The aim of the Group is to provide answers to Parliament and Government on how England can deliver more and better new homes, especially through SME builders and developers.

Andrew Lewer MP said:

“Who better to ask how the planning system can be improved than the people building, or seeking to build, the new houses?  Furthermore, who better to ask than the SME house-builders and their partners in the housing industry? The quality and the quantity of the responses we received underline the on-going success of this APPG. People who really know what they are talking about have given their time and effort towards this report. We as MPs will try our best to ensure that it both gets into the right hands and into as many hands as possible”.

This APPG report was launched ahead of the Government’s much-anticipated Planning White Paper. Participants were clear in wanting more investment in planning departments to ensure that promises to “Build, Build, Build” are taken literally and completions are accelerated.

Brett Amphlett, BMF Policy and Public Affairs’ Manager, attended and said afterwards:

“The BMF welcomes efforts to mobilise SMEs who are the customers of merchants. The APPG recommendations are consistent with the BMF’s own views. We want to see unrelenting determination to simplify and speed up the process to narrow the gap between demand & supply”.

Other strong themes emerged from this report:
-     a small sites register to help local councils respond more quickly to any failure to meet local housing need and assist SME house-builders to deliver;
-     a certain percentage of land on strategic sites delivery should be earmarked for local SMEs
-     more efforts to delegate planning applications to officers to determine - in accordance with planning policy - rather than elected members.
 
More investment is needed urgently in the planning function of local authorities, and in the training of planners and other related professionals, if the industry is to build anywhere near 300,000 new homes per year.

BMF support for Construction Talent Retention Scheme


08 July 2020

The BMF has expressed full support for a number of measures to secure jobs within the construction industry announced within the Chancellor’s statement today (8 July).

One of the key announcements in the written statement is the launch of the Construction Talent Retention Scheme (CTRS), a partnership between the Government and industry to secure essential talent in the UK construction sector.

The CTRS will be run by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) which is made up of trade and business associations from across the supply chain, including the BMF. It is designed to keep skills in the sector, matching displaced workers with employers seeking new staff.  It is based on a proven model to safeguard talent in the aerospace and automotive sectors.

Formally launching later this month, the CTRS will be an online portal that supports redeployment of staff at risk redundancy across the sector, while also enabling temporary employee loans between businesses.  The scheme will also give displaced workers from other sectors a route to find new employment in construction. 

John Newcomb, BMF CEO, said: “Covid-19 has already had an impact and we are seeing businesses having to reduce their workforce.  We need to keep the skills built up over many years within the industry in order to secure construction’s long-term recovery.

“The CLC’s Talent Retention Scheme, alongside the financial measures announced by the Chancellor to encourage businesses to employ and train young people and provide quality apprenticeships, will help to retain our talent base and redeploy their skills across the entire sector as well as well moving to secure the future by investing in the next generation.”

The CTRS has funding secured from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy until the end of the financial year, providing a free online platform for any organisation looking to hire, while ensuring that candidates’ skills and experience are given a prominent platform within the industry.  

John Newcomb added: 

“This is a proven programme, with no cost for users, that is supported by the entire construction industry bringing significant scope and scale to its successful delivery. We will be promoting the CTRS online portal extensively within the building materials sector and encouraging BMF merchant and supplier members to register their interest so they are fully up to speed when the portal goes live.”

Businesses can register their interest in the scheme at: www.trs-system.co.uk/construction
 

 
The BMF has expressed full support for a number of measures to secure jobs within the construction industry announced within the Chancellor’s statement today (8 July).

Investments in greener homes set to protect thousands of jobs across the building industry supply chain  


07 July 2020

A leading building industry trade body says Government plans to create greener homes will protect thousands of jobs and lead to new innovations in the sector.

The BMF, has welcomed the Chancellor’s scheme, which is set to support energy saving projects for homeowners in England. 

According to the BMF, the move will help make a significant impact in addressing the carbon emissions of the nation’s housing stock.

John Newcomb, BMF Chief Executive, said: “We are extremely pleased that the Government will provide this vital measure for the UK homeowners and at the same time bring confidence in the building materials industry.

“Thousands of jobs will be protected and investment will be kept flowing, enabling the supply chain to trade with confidence.
  
“The UK’s current housing stock contributes to 40 per cent of the nation’s carbon emissions.

“The Chancellor’s proposal will make significant inroads to tackle that figure and provide confidence, incentive and support to homeowners to undertake the necessary upgrades.”

The BMF’s 710 members across the UK and Ireland have combined sales of £36 billion and employ more than 170,000 people in the building materials industry. Its 354 merchant members operate from 5,648 branches across the UK and Ireland.

They play a leading role in the distribution of materials across the country. That includes accounting for almost 90 per cent of the sales of insulation in the UK, a market valued at £1.2 billion.* 
Mr Newcomb added: “Builders merchants have a vital role to play in the delivery of the programme.

“The building materials sector in which our members operate is currently valued at £56 billion and directly provides more than 330,000 jobs, working across 23,000 companies in the UK.

“The sector makes a significant contribution to the economy and it’s important for us to reinforce the message of its value and significance.

“Currently, 80 per cent of all building products used in the construction of homes and buildings are manufactured in the UK.

“This home-grown sector will be more important than ever, creating vital jobs in manufacturing, construction and the service sector in the current economic climate.

“Our members are already making significant in-roads in areas including sustainability and the delivery of quieter, more energy efficient buildings and environments.

“The Chancellor’s proposal will bring more confidence to press ahead with new innovations and bring new developments to the marketplace.”
 
A leading building industry trade body says Government plans to create greener homes will protect thousands of jobs and lead to new innovations in the sector.

BMF Backs consumer campaign to boost construction recovery


03 July 2020

The BMF is backing new guidance launched today (July 3) to provide reassurance to homeowners to have tradespeople carry out work in and around their homes.  

The Work Safe. Safe Work campaign has been developed by Trustmark, the only government endorsed quality scheme for tradespeople, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).  It comes hot on the heels of the latest Office of National Statistics Survey (ONS) that found less than 4 in 10 (37%) adults would be comfortable to have someone in their home to carry out non-emergency work, and only half of adults (51%) would feel comfortable or very comfortable having someone come into their home to carry out an emergency repair, such as fixing a boiler.

A campaign booklet, which can be downloaded or given to the homeowner before tradespeople visit the property, gives practical advice about what COVID-safety measures should be discussed and carried out before, during and after work is done in and around their home.  It also sets out helpful questions to ask, safety actions to take and which party is responsible for each task.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO, said: “Consumer confidence is pivotal to our industry’s recovery but, as the latest ONS survey shows, many people are still reluctant to have tradespeople in their home.  The materials produced by Trustmark provide the guidance and reassurance householders need to feel comfortable when emergency repairs are required and to have the confidence to commission improvement work to their home.  

“This is incredibly important not only for the construction industry’s recovery, but also to the UK economy.  We fully support the Work Safe. Safe Work campaign and would encourage merchants to spread the word amongst their trades customers who will find it extremely useful to give the Trustmark booklet to householders before work begins.”

More information about the Work Safe. Safe Work campaign can be found at https://worksafesafework.info   The booklet is available at https://worksafesafework.info/resources
 
The BMF is backing new guidance launched today (July 3) to provide reassurance to homeowners to have tradespeople carry out work in and around their homes.

BMF supports P&H Road to Recovery Survey


30 June 2020

Eureka Research P&H Road to RecoveryThe BMF is supporting Eureka! Research as they seek to understand what working life is really like for the plumbing and heating trades as we come out of the Coronavirus lockdown.

The research company is gathering information from as many installer businesses as possible to discover how things have changed since the early days of the crisis and the challenges they now face. The research will provide strong real-time evidence with which to lobby policymakers and decision makers in Government. It will also shape the types of services, products and support that the P&H sector will need to help it recover.

The study builds on initial research undertaken by Eureka! in April 2020 to analyse the early stage impacts of lockdown on the sector. Core questions will be repeated to provide a degree of ‘data tracking’ to show how businesses have adapted.

The research is supported by a cross sector working group* encompassing trade bodies, including the BMF, and respected P&H brands. To encourage responses and help those on the tools get back on their feet, a prize fund competition worth £4,500 is available to every P&H business that takes in the survey, which can be found here - https://tinyurl.com/y8z7rl87

The BMF is encouraging Members to spread the word amongst P&H customers as the survey will aid their understanding of the challenges and future intentions amongst this important audience. BMF Members and other interested parties can pre-register for the survey results at www.eurekaresearch.co.uk/covid19report

John Newcomb, Chief Executive Officer, Builders Merchants Federation said: 

“With prolonged enforced closures and delays in the materials supply chain it is more important than ever that we understand how our trade customers are coping and adapting as they return to work. We are supporting Eureka! Research in their unique initiative to understand the changing landscape in Plumbing & Heating. We would encourage as many of our Members and their customers to get behind this campaign as possible.”
 
Eureka Research P&H Road to Recovery
The BMF is supporting Eureka! Research as they seek to understand what working life is really like for the plumbing and heating trades as we come out of the Coronavirus lockdown.

BMF welcomes PM’s £5bn New Deal – but await the detail


30 June 2020

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s “New Deal” for Britain speech today, the Builders Merchants Federation gave it a qualified thumbs up.

BMF CEO, John Newcomb welcomed the commitment to creating jobs, skills and infrastructure as the Government looks to build the UK back to economic health in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis but noted that full a programme of national renewal must also promote better housing – both building new homes and upgrading existing ones.

Said John Newcomb:

“It is great to see a Prime Minister responding to the Covid-19 crisis by promising to build back better, greener and faster, and by understanding the very real need to get the millions of people working in construction and building trades – including apprentices - back to work.  In this regard, we are pleased to see the Construction Leadership Council’s Road to Recovery plan reflected in his speech.

“Reforming the planning system is long overdue and changes that speed up the system and enable redundant buildings to become new homes are certainly welcome.  While some elements have been announced, we will need to see the detail in the promised planning Policy Paper in July.  

“With regard to new housing, the building materials supply chain has often heard ministers talk a good game without the necessary political and managerial drive needed to build housing of all types and tenures through to completion.

“And, while we have heard that the Government will publish a National Infrastructure Strategy in the Autumn, we also need a firm commitment to level up existing housing in every region through a National Retrofit Strategy.  

“Our ask of Boris is to help SME builders and allied trades to return to the market and do what they do best.  Build small numbers of homes, in many locations, in keeping with their surroundings, that voters want to buy.  And undertake the RMI that many UK homes still desperately need to provide warm and secure accommodation.  All in all, to boost the number of greener, faster, better homes that the country needs.”
 
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s “New Deal” for Britain speech today, the Builders Merchants Federation gave it a qualified thumbs up.

Changing horizons sparks surge in landscaping product sales across Britain


29 June 2020

Data from builders’ merchants across the UK points to a surge in landscaping products, as homeowners opted to give their gardens a make-over during the Covid-19 restrictions.

Sales of products landscaping spiked during May, according to the BMF. The trade body reports DIY purchases doubling, with sleepers, timber, decorative aggregates and fencing top of their shopping list.

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “We have had feedback from across our membership reporting a significant increase in DIY consumers going into merchants for exterior based products.

“Normally less than 20 per cent of a merchants’ business is to the general public. However, during the restrictions, we have seen sales paid at the point of purchase, which are generally DIY and consumer sales, significantly increase. In some cases, the figures have doubled to 40 per cent.

“Our members say that much of this increase has been driven by furloughed workers, looking to carry out jobs around the home.

“Landscaping has been the most popular project, with the good weather and the fact that householders have been largely confined to their garden both playing a part in that decision.

“It seems that people were also concerned about booking holidays at the time and decided to invest in their properties instead.”

The BMF - which represents 363 merchant members operating from over 5,450 branches across the UK and Ireland - produced new Branch Operating Guideline for builders’ merchant staff to follow in the pandemic.

The 18-page document covers procedures for phone, click/call and collect and pre-arranged orders.

Mr Newcomb added: “By taking web, phone or e-mail orders, customers, both trade and DIY, can collect from the merchant or receive deliveries.

“The safety measures have been well-received and many customers felt reassured they were able to purchase goods safely from merchants in their community, and at the same time support local jobs and the economy.”
 
Data from builders’ merchants across the UK points to a surge in landscaping products, as homeowners opted to give their gardens a make-over during the Covid-19 restrictions.

Merchant sales tumble in April – but recovery beckons


17 June 2020

Figures for April 2020 just released in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) highlight the dramatic initial effect of the Government’s Covid-19 Lockdown measures on sales through UK builders’ merchants.

Total Builders Merchants sales during April were down -76.3% compared with April 2019.  Tools took the biggest hit (-90.0%), with Kitchens & Bathrooms (-86.8%) close behind. Workwear & Safetywear saw the lowest year on year decline at -60.2%, having been up +36.5% in March against the previous year.

Although these figures show a variance to April’s construction output estimates from the Office of National Statistics, which reported a drop of -44.0%, 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. 

BMF CEO John Newcomb commented: 

“Sadly, April’s figures come as no surprise with the majority of construction sites and builders merchants closing, or significantly reducing operations, as a first response to the Government’s lock down measures to prevent to transmission of Covid-19.  

“However, the BMF tracked the operational status of our members throughout the crisis and the majority quickly adapted their business to offer phone or online sales and, following publication of our new branch operating guidelines, many were able to open branches and trade safely.  Throughout May we could see the numbers open for business increasing on a daily basis and today all are operational.  

“With construction, housing and home improvement works all back on site, we expect the picture to improve as data for the rest of Q2 becomes available.  

“It will be vital for the construction industry to work together to implement the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Recovery Plan in the months ahead and the BMF is involved in developing outputs to accelerate the Housing and RMI sectors, both key customer groups for builders merchants.”
 
Figures for April 2020 just released in the BMF’s BMBI highlight the dramatic initial effect of the Government’s Covid-19 Lockdown measures on sales.

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Press enquires for the builders merchants and building materials industry;

The Builders Merchants Federation is the only trade association that represents and protects the interests of builders’ merchants and suppliers to the building materials industry in the UK and Ireland.

Total membership at 1 January 2020 stands at 710 merchant, supplier and service companies who together have combined sales of £32bn and employ around 138,000 people in the building materials industry. BMF’s 363 merchant members operate from over 5,450 branches across the UK and Ireland.

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

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

Jane Shepherd
jane@shepherd-pr.com
07985 129315
01538 308685