BMF News

Builders Merchants Q1 sales confirm Coronavirus effect


20 May 2020

Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Government measures to reduce transmission of the virus.

Figures for Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019, show a decline of -6.7% in total builders’ merchants’ sales during the first quarter of this year.  

Year on Year sales were down in all three months, falling by -2.6% in January 2020 compared with January 2019, and by -1.3% in February 2020 compared with February 2019.  Social distancing and lockdown measures introduced during March led to the largest decline of the quarter with sales down by -15.1% on March 2019.  March sales were also down by
-3.5% on February 2020.

Comparing the Q1 performance of different product categories vs Q1 2019, 
Tools (-12.7%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-11.1%) reported the biggest falls, with Plumbing, Heating & Electrical down -7.4%, Heavy Building Materials down -6.5%, Decorating down -5.1% and Kitchens & Bathrooms down -4.1%.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the one outstanding performance was in Workwear and Safetywear up by +24.2%.

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. 

The quarterly BMBI figures paint a slightly less negative picture than Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) first quarterly estimates for Q1 2020, which showed Private Housing RMI work – a mainstay of builders’ merchants’ sales – down by 14.6% compared with Q1 2019 , having dropped 18.6% in March 2020 vs March 2019 and by -8.6% vs February 2020.  The decline in the first quarter reported by the ONS is the largest since data was first published in Q2 2012.

Commenting on the BMBI results, John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation said: 

“In the current circumstances no-one will be surprised by the results for Q1, with confidence dropping as coronavirus spread across the world to the UK and many building sites and builders’ merchants shutting down completely when the lockdown took effect on 24 March.  

“Sites are now beginning a gradual return to work whilst maintaining enhanced safe working practices.  Although this demonstrates the construction industry’s desire to assist in the recovery of the UK economy, with contractors reporting a slump in new orders and reports of projects being postponed it is far too early to say how long that recovery will take.”
 
Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade at GfK added:

“With at least one week of trading lost, it comes as no surprise that March saw a noticeable decrease in sales. The true effect of the lockdown will only become known once April data becomes available, with the path to recovery being a long journey with no clear end destination.”

“The next few months will be a key indicator as to how well the industry will adapt to a new normal, with there being an acceptance that online merchant sales will see further growth going forward.”
 
Sales figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed in the BMF’s BMBI reflect the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Role of builders’ merchants key to Welsh COVID-19 plans


18 May 2020

The BMF has welcomed recognition by the Welsh government of the important role of builders’ merchants in its plans to ease the lockdown.

The sector is specifically mentioned in the traffic light roadmap, which sets out how Wales could exit the coronavirus lockdown.

Available to view at https://gov.wales/unlocking-our-society-and-economy-wales-roadmap-published the document was unveiled on Friday 15 May by First Minister Mark Drakeford.

The BMF has already produced operating protocols for the safe operation of merchants  during Covid-19, which adhere to the roadmap’s requirements.

The BMF’s 18-page document sets out guidelines and additional precautions for builders’ merchant staff to follow in the office and trade counter, for customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and for tool hire during the COVID-19 outbreak.

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive, said: “The Welsh Government’s roadmap recognises that small construction companies cannot operate effectively if builders’ merchants remain shut.

“It also refers to the importance of click and collect retail, which we advocate for our members in our own guidance.

“That model centres around phone, click/call and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into shop or products.

“The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.

“The safety of staff, suppliers and customers is paramount, and the risks can be managed if safe systems of work are in place and remain effective until further notice.”

The guidance has been endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which has created a Construction Industry Task Force to provide a focal point for co-ordinating the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

BMF is a member of the Task Force, which comprises of leading trade associations representing both large and small firms in the construction sector, contractors, specialist contractors, home builders, product manufacturers, merchants and associated professional services, as well as Government Departments and major clients of the industry.
The BMF has welcomed recognition by the Welsh government of the important role of builders’ merchants in its plans to ease the lockdown.

BMF welcomes Government Trade Credit Insurance Guarantee


13 May 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) welcomed the Government’s decision to guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market.

It is particularly important to builders merchants, many of whom have trade credit insurance in place, and the construction industry is one of the largest users of this type of insurance accounting for some 30% of users.

BMF CEO, John Newcomb chairs the Construction Leadership Council Group addressing this area, which provided data to show the potential impact of a reduction in cover.

John Newcomb said: “We are extremely pleased that the Government will provide this vital backstop for the construction industry.  It will protect thousands of jobs and keep cash flowing and help the building materials supply chain trade with confidence. 

“The announcement is particularly welcome on the day that the construction industry is among those being encouraged to return to work in a safe and structured way.”

The TCI guarantee will be delivered through a temporary reinsurance agreement with insurers currently operating in the market. It is designed to cover Covid-19 economic challenges and will provisionally last until the end of the year.
The BMF welcomed the Government’s decision to guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market.

New furlough plans throw lifeline to protect multi-billion pound building supply chain


12 May 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

The BMF has been actively pressing for a more flexible programme from the Government, as a member of the Construction Leadership Council, which is co-ordinating the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

According to BMF chief executive, John Newcomb, the nation’s multi-billion pound builders’ merchant and building material supply sector would have been severely hampered to help get Britain building without some flexibility in the system.

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive, said: “An incredible 80 per cent of all building products used in the construction of homes and buildings are manufactured in the UK. We need to protect this home-grown sector, which creates vital jobs in manufacturing, construction and the service sector.

“The extension to the furlough and the new levels of flexibility it brings have thrown us a lifeline that will enable us to do that.

“We are delighted that the Government has listened to our representations through the Construction Leadership Council. With our members now able to plan ahead, livelihoods will be protected, with the number one priority being safety.”

 The federation says the industry is well-prepared for the restart of construction and has already produced new branch operating guidelines  for its members to follow, which set a blueprint for procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Newcomb added: “We are preparing for the construction industry to get back on site. Over the past three weeks, since the publication of our new branch operating guidelines, we have seen increasing numbers of merchants safely re-opening or expanding operations to support their trade customers.

“It is clear the Government now sees a return to work for the construction industry as a priority. We are prepared for that, with the safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers paramount. The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

The BMF is also working in a specialist group to ensure confidence in the building products supply chain, to meet increasing demand in the re-opening period.

It is working with the Construction Products Association (CPA) to monitor the manufacturing and distribution of their respective members, in order to meet the needs of housebuilders, contractors and SME builders. They are heading up the Product Availability Group, set-up by the Construction Leadership Council.
The BMF says the furlough extension has thrown the construction industry a crucial lifeline, which will protect a vital element of the UK economy.

European Builders Merchant Conference postponed until 2021


11 May 2020

The 2020 Ufemat Congress, which brings together builders merchants, building materials suppliers and trade bodies from across Europe, and was set to take place in London in October has been postponed due to Covid-19. 

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

Ufemat’s Conference Programme is now scheduled to take place in London on 15-17 April 2021.  Meanwhile, Ufemat’s 2020 Annual General Meeting will be held as a virtual event in the Autumn, the date to be confirmed.

Making the announcement, BMF CEO and Ufemat President, John Newcomb, said: “The safety of delegates and exhibitors is our first priority and, regrettably, the continuing Covid-19 crisis has left us with no option but to cancel arrangements for the Ufemat Conference in October. 

“Ufemat members are also focused on combatting Covid-19 and supporting the building materials supply chain in their respective countries at this time.  However, our Conference theme, ‘European Unity in a Digital Age’, will have even greater relevance when we meet in 2021. We are already seeing merchants fast-track the introduction of digital ordering in response to social distancing measures.  I would also like to thank our sponsors for their continued support.”
The 2020 Ufemat Congress, which brings together builders merchants, building materials suppliers and trade bodies from across Europe, and was set to take place in London in October has been postponed due to Covid-19.

Safety first as Scottish construction industry heads for restart


04 May 2020

Construction leaders are taking steps to ensure safety first in builders’ merchants across Scotland as the sector gears up to restart for essential projects.

The move comes as the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) received clarification from the Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart MSP, on the range of construction projects classified as essential.

Based on the response, the trade body has now written to its members - which operate from 420 branches and 26 manufacturing sites across Scotland - setting out the Scottish Government guidelines.

It has also signposted members to branch operating procedures, developed by the BMF to ensure supplies can be obtained in line with Covid-19 restrictions, as builders and plumbers carry out essential repairs and maintenance.

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive, said: “We believe there are now sufficient signs of demand and an appetite by builders and contractors who are returning to work to encourage merchants to re-open for business, providing it is safe to do so.

“The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount and the number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

To underpin safety, the BMF has produced new Branch Operating Guidelines for builders’ merchant staff to follow in the office and trade counter, for customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and for tool hire during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The 18-page document covers procedures for phone, click/call and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into shop or products.

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

“This avoids non-essential customers coming into the premises and the risks that might arise.”

The BMF is a member of Scotland’s Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV), which is in regular contract with industry colleagues and the Scottish Government.
Construction leaders are taking steps to ensure safety first in builders’ merchants across Scotland as the sector gears up to restart for essential projects.

Trade bodies monitor construction supplies to iron out demand and production


29 April 2020

Leaders in the construction sector are joining forces to ensure confidence in the multi-billion-pound building products supply chain, to meet increasing demand in the re-opening period.

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is working with the Construction Products Association (CPA) to monitor the manufacturing and distribution of their respective members, in order to meet the needs of housebuilders, contractors and SME builders.

They are heading up the Product Availability Group, set-up by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which is co-ordinating the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The BMF is gaining information from across its membership – comprising of 710 members with combined sales of £32 billion – to identify items likely to be in short supply and take steps to address them.

According to the BMF, early shortfalls in plaster and plasterboard supply were being flagged-up under the monitoring system, but steps are being taken to resolve that shortfall.

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “Currently we are seeing no major issues, apart from plaster and plasterboard, but manufacturing is now scheduled to increase to address this problem.

“As a group, we are meeting every two weeks to keep a watching brief on the situation across the entire construction industry supply chain.

“We want to deal with potential issues in a proactive way, to ensure demand is met across the construction sector.

“Nothing like this has happened before, and the work we are doing is unprecedented.

“We can only refer to what happened in the 2008 recession for insight, but realistically that cannot provide any meaningful model for the situation we are in now.

“Fortunately, we can refer to data-driven intelligence from the information we receive, and the collaboration forged within the Construction Leadership Council means that together we can work to address the challenges ahead.”

Peter Caplehorn, CPA Chief Executive, said: “The CPA has been closely monitoring the operational status of its members, who are looking for sustainable demand for their products before starting to phase in more factory production, whilst at the same time ensuring the health and well-being of their workforce.

“With the BMF, we are discussing with Government and the wider industry the need to encourage builders and merchants to safely re-open more sites and branches, in addition to continuing support for ‘essential’ activity such as key NHS and infrastructure projects, repair and maintenance.”

The BMF’s five largest merchant members, along with five of the CPA’s largest manufacturing members, are part of the Product Availability Group.
Leaders in the construction sector are joining forces to ensure confidence in the multi-billion-pound building products supply chain, to meet increasing demand in the re-opening period. ​

New website shows how industry helped in the fight against Covid-19


28 April 2020

Construction Response WebsiteThe Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19. 

Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020, merchants and building materials producers, along with businesses from across the construction industry have been playing their part in fighting the disease, providing vital resources to those on the frontline, and safeguarding construction workers and local communities.

Today sees the launch of a website www.constructioncovid19response.co.uk  that showcases examples of these responses, with a focus on four themes:

1. Building NHS Capacity
2. PPE Donations
3. Safeguarding Workers
4. Helping Communities

The site has been prepared as part of the work of the Construction Leadership Council Covid-19 Taskforce, comprising representatives from the industry’s trade bodies, including the Builders Merchants Federation, client organisations and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Commenting on the new website, Andy Mitchell CBE, co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said:

“No-one can have any doubt that the true heroes of the pandemic are those who work day in, day our in our NHS and care system, risking their lives to help others.

“But I have also been proud to see the response of the UK construction industry, which has come together to support our NHS, change the way we work, and support the communities in which we live.

“The delivery of the NHS Nightingale hospitals within a matter of weeks has required 24 hour working at all levels of the UK construction supply chain, and a level of co-operation that has shown UK construction at its very best.

“Industry has not only stepped up to the plate in a time of crisis, but has donated millions of pieces of much-needed PPE to hospitals, care-homes, and other front-line workers.

“We have also moved at speed to implement safe working practices in response to Covid-19 so where work can be done safely it can continue.

“Industry and Government’s priority now must be a long-term recovery plan for our sector, which will be at the very heart of the UK’s economic revival in the months and years ahead.”

BMF CEO, John Newcomb added: “A number of BMF members are already featured in case studies on the website but we know many more in our sector have stepped up magnificently both to change the way they are working and to support the NHS and their local communities.

“We are seeking more case studies to showcase the commitment and dedication of our industry through the work you are doing to overcome this crisis.”

If you have a great story to tell, please email details to john.newcomb@bmf.org.uk.
Construction Response Website
The BMF is calling on merchants and building materials manufacturers to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19.

BMF launches video to support Covid-19 Branch Operating Guidelines


BMF Branch Operating Guidelines video The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has produced a video info-graphic outlining the key elements of the practical advice provided in their Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19 document published last week.

Like the full document, the video provides safe operating guidelines for builders’ merchants branch operations while Covid-19 restrictions continue.  The guidelines cover 5 key areas - head/branch office and trade counter environments, customer collections, supplier deliveries, deliveries to construction sites and tool hire.

The guidelines incorporate Public Health England (PHE) guidance on social distancing, hygiene and cleaning procedure and are endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council, which has itself published Site Operating Procedures to facilitate safe working on building sites.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount.  The Branch Operating Guidelines in the video and the more detailed document show how risks can be managed with safe systems of work during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The video-infographic can be viewed on the BMF’s Covid-19 online information hub , which is keeping members up to date with the latest advice and developments relating to the building material sector throughout the crisis.
BMF Branch Operating Guidelines video
The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has produced a video info-graphic outlining the key elements of the practical advice provided in their Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19 document published last week.

South Lincs builders’ merchant donates vital PPE equipment to first responders


Lincs LIVES PPE first respondersA South Lincolnshire builders’ merchant has donated much-needed personal protective equipment to Community First Medic Responders.

Branch Bros, which has branches in Deeping St James, Holbeach and Bourne, has provided a range of items including eye protection, suits, gloves and face masks, to support the vital work of LIVES in Lincolnshire.

The company pulled together all its stock to support the charity.

LIVES is a charity which provides sector leading training and equipment for their army of volunteers, who deliver vital care across Lincolnshire to those in the first critical moments of a 999 medical emergency, before handing over to the ambulance service.

It is estimated that one in five people in the county have been cared for by the service since 2000.

Kirsty Raywood, of LIVES, said: “During these difficult times, we have working hard to provide the correct levels of PPE to our Community First Responder and Medic Responders.

“We need to keep them safe and well, so they can be there for their community when the worst happens.

“The donation from Branch Bros has meant so much to us, we can continue to be there, when minutes matter, safely.”

Ashley Branch, of Branch Bros, said: “As a rural based business we recognise the vital role that LIVES carries out.

“They are often the first on the scene and we wanted to support them as best we could in these unprecedented times.”

Branch Bros’ work is part of a co-ordinated effort by national trade body the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) appealing for donations of PPE for the healthcare sector across its membership.

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “Branch Bros have made a major contribution to the work of LIVES.

“Our members play a key role in the community and the unique nature of their work, and their stock of PPE, puts them in a good position to make a difference to our healthcare professionals at this difficult time.”
Lincs LIVES PPE first responders
A South Lincolnshire builders’ merchant has donated much-needed personal protective equipment to Community First Medic Responders.

Builders Merchants report lacklustre February before Covid-19


BMBI February 202021 April 2020

Figures for February 2020 just released in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) point to a lacklustre month for sales through UK builders’ merchants.  February trading is unlikely to have been much affected by the emerging Coronavirus pandemic, pre-dating social distancing, which started on 19 March, and the lockdown measures which took effect on 24 March.

Total Builders Merchants sales during the month were down -1.3% compared with February 2019.  Sales in three categories were weaker including the two largest, Heavy Building Materials (-1.9%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-6.9%). Tools was also weaker at -4.0%. Among the categories to show year on year growth, there was strong demand for Workwear & Safetywear (+30.8%) driven by higher demand for protective equipment including masks, googles and gloves.  Landscaping sold 7.4% more and Kitchens & Bathrooms grew by 3.5%.

Sales in February were 2.2% higher than in January 2020, despite having two less trading days, and February being one of the wettest on record. 

Sales in the three months December 2019 to February 2020 were -1.2% lower than in the same period a year earlier.  Nine categories improved, including Workwear & Safetywear (+14.1%) and Landscaping (+5.3%).  However Timber & Joinery Products (-6%) and Tools (-4.8%) were weaker.

Overall the 12 months March 2019 to February 2020 were down 0.9% on the same period a year earlier, with one less trading day. Average sales per day (which takes trading day differences into account) in the last 12 months were down 0.5%.

BMF CEO John Newcomb commented: “While we all know the figures for the first Quarter will be pretty abysmal when they are released next month, it is interesting to look back at the trend before Covid-19 took hold. It is clear that the negative trend over the past three Quarters had continued into the first two months of 2020. 

“Public confidence was already at a low after three years of Brexit uncertainty, and any possibility of a Brexit bounce following the signing of the Withdrawal Agreement in January was swiftly countered by widespread flooding hindering work in February. How long ago that all seems today. We may have to wait until 2021 until we fully understand what the new normal will look like.”
Figures for February 2020 just released in the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) point to a lacklustre month for sales through UK builders’ merchants.

Bradfords Builders Merchants has donated vital PPE


Bradford has donated PPEBradfords Builders Merchants has donated vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare professionals.

The company has provided equipment including eye protection and face masks in a bid to tackle the shortages faced in the healthcare sector.

Bradfords Building Supplies orchestrated a response from the 45 stores across its network, in line with a national appeal from the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) for donations of PPE from across its membership.

Giles Bradford, Communications and Engagement Manager of Bradfords Building Supplies, said: “We were delighted to help with the donation of PPE.

“It’s vital that as much equipment goes to the healthcare sector as possible and we have been able to co-ordinate our efforts collectively into helping bring together supplies.”

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “Bradfords Building Supplies has generously stepped forward with a donation from its Ross-on-Wye branch, as well as other locations within its network.

“Our members play a key role in the community and the unique nature of their work, and their stock of PPE, puts them in a good position to make a difference to our healthcare professionals at this difficult time.”
Bradfords Builders Merchants has donated vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare professionals. ​

Sussex merchant donates vital PPE equipment to the healthcare sector


20 April 2020

Mid-Sussex Timber PPEA timber and building materials merchant in Sussex has donated much-needed personal protective equipment to NHS staff.

Mid-Sussex Timber (MST) - has provided a range of items, including goggles, safety glasses and face masks, in a bid to tackle the shortages faced in the healthcare sector.

The family-run business, which last year celebrated its 90th anniversary, has its headquarters in Forest Row and further branches in Crowborough, East Grinstead and Haywards Heath.

Alex Waters, Mid-Sussex Timber Merchants’ Operations Director, said: “We were delighted to help with the donation of PPE.

“We can think of no more important place for it to be than with healthcare professionals at this difficult time.”

National trade body the Builders Merchants Federation co-ordinated a national response across its membership, appealing for donations of PPE.

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “Mid-Sussex Timber generously stepped forward with the donation.

“Our members play a key role in the community and the unique nature of their work, and their stock of PPE, puts them in a good position to make a difference to our healthcare professionals at this difficult time.”
Mid-Sussex Timber PPE
A timber and building materials merchant in Sussex has donated much-needed personal protective equipment to NHS staff.

BMF publishes Branch Operating Guidelines during Covid-19


BMF Branch operating guidelines17 April 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has published Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue.

The 18-page document sets out guidelines and additional precautions to follow in the office, at trade counters, during customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and tool hire. 

The Guidelines incorporate Public Health England (PHE) social distancing and hygiene procedures and have been prepared in consultation with merchants, Highways England and the Construction Leadership Council, which has itself published Site Operating Procedures for use on all building sites to facilitate safe working.

Two-metre social distancing is absolute between merchant staff, customers and suppliers - and information is included on detailed cleaning routines and mandatory compliance to avoid transmission of the virus.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said:

“The Government has made it clear that merchants are a vital part of the construction supply chain and, if it is safe to do so, it is important they are able to support the construction industry as work continues and more sites reopen.

“We have worked with the industry to develop a new operating model to minimise the risk of virus transmission. The new model centres around trade customers using call and collect, click and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into branches.

“The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount and every merchant must make the best decision for their individual business. We hope these new Guidelines will show how risks can be managed if these safe systems of work are in place and remain effective until further notice.”

The BMF website includes a list showing the current operational status of merchant and supplier members during the crisis. The BMF has asked all members to advise them of any changes to ensure the list is accurate and up to date.
The BMF has published Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue.

BMF intensifies member support to meet COVID-19 challenges


The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has intensified support services to help members meet the challenges arising from COVID-19.  The “emergency” service includes regular updates from the BMF’s daily briefings with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), specialist Forums delivered as interactive webinars and practical support such as template letter to support rate relief applications and new Covid Branch Operating Procedures.

The BMF asked BEIS to clarify merchants’ eligibility for the 12 months business rates holiday in England. Ultimately inclusion in the scheme will be a decision for local authorities on a case by case basis having regard to Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government guidance, and there is likely to be some local interpretation. A template letter to assist members who wish to apply for rate relief can now be downloaded from the BMF website.

The BMF has also started work on a recommended Branch Operating Procedures document, which will be available to download from its website by the end of the week. Covering logistics, collection and delivery services and branch best practice, the document will draw on lessons learned from members who have remained open since the lockdown began as well as the latest Public Health England guidelines. 

The BMF has also scheduled two COVID-19-related Forums to be held on a digital platform. These will cover Finance on 23 April and HR on 24 April . These are in addition to the Plumbing & Heating digital Forum to be held on 13 May. All three can be booked on the BMF website.

BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “These are extremely testing times for the building supply industry and the BMF’s role in support of our members has never been more important. As part of the Construction Leadership Council, the BMF has daily briefings with BEIS and takes members’ concerns straight to the heart of UK Government. We are also making representations to the Scottish Government as a member of the Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum. 

“All the information we receive is passed on to our members the same day. I am also writing to them personally with a weekly update. The two virtual Forums we are running later this month will give more detailed advice in the critical areas of finance and HR and will provide more member feedback that we can incorporate in our requests to government.

“In addition to work on immediate issues we are also looking ahead and co-ordinating a product availability group, reporting back to the CLC and BEIS, to consider the availability of key products to manage the return to normal supply levels as construction activity increases.

“Our website is updated daily with the latest information contained within a dedicated COVID-19 area. We are also seeking to maintain a list showing the operational status of both merchant and supplier members during the crisis – which is proving extremely useful to contractors, builders, plumbers, heating engineers and roofers. I would encourage any business that is not yet included to send their current status to paige.godsell@bmf.org.uk.”
The BMF has intensified support services to help members meet the challenges arising from COVID-19.

Marshalls Design Spaces to host BMF Regional Training Centres


Marshalls Design Spaces BMF regional training centre6 April 2020

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is set to launch two further Regional Training Centres with the assistance of Marshalls, the UK’s leading hard landscaping supplier. The new Regional Training Centres will be hosted in Marshalls Design Space facilities in central Birmingham and in Clerkenwell, London. They will both open after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

BMF Regional Training Centres provide meeting and training spaces for smaller groups to come together, reflecting the BMF’s localisation strategy to help members participate in events closer to their own home base, thus reducing time spent away from their business.

Peter Hallitt, Marshalls’ Group Trading Managing Director, said: “The two Marshalls Design Spaces are ideal venues for this purpose, designed for construction industry professionals to explore, experiment and imagine a range of possibilities. They are great places to learn too and we are delighted to support the BMF in this way.”

BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “I would like to thank Marshalls for working with the BMF to bring our second and third Regional Training Centres on stream. They are both fantastic spaces and will serve city centre areas in the BMF’s Midland and London/South East regions. Our first RTC, in Cornwall, serves the far South West, and we are targeting three more by the end of the year, which will give us one in each of our five UK regions and one in Ireland.”
The BMF is set to launch two further Regional Training Centres with the assistance of Marshalls.

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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