BMF News

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.

Action to tackle plaster shortage under joint construction industry approach  


12 June 2020

Construction leaders are keeping a watching brief on plaster shortages, in a cross-industry collaboration to support the sector’s road to recovery.

The BMF and the Construction Products Association (CPA) are working to pinpoint and address the key issues as more builders return to site.

As the joint leaders of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) Product Availability Group, they gauged the views of merchants, manufacturers, house builders and contractors to discuss the key issues yesterday (June 11).

John Newcomb, CEO of the BMF, said: “The latest information yesterday shows that plaster continues to be challenging in terms of supply.

“Currently the biggest issue is significant replenishment demand in the network.  

“We have also had reports of panic buying of plaster, which is also having an impact.

“However, production output is now performing ahead of plan, and it was reported by some in the group that issues with supply are easing.

“We are now taking steps to reassure the industry that, with manufacturing now in place to a high output, the situation is improving and will be resolved in the weeks ahead.

Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the CPA, said: “We all recognise it is absolutely vital that, as we take the road to recovery, the construction industry has the products it needs, and we’ll continue to use information and data-driven intelligence to act on issues as they arise.”

Set-up to monitor the building products supply chain to meet increasing demand in the re-opening period, the CLC’s Product Availability Group includes the BMF’s five largest merchant members, along with five of the CPA’s largest manufacturing members. 
 
Construction leaders are keeping a watching brief on plaster shortages, in a cross-industry collaboration to support the sector’s road to recovery.

Government launches Trade Credit Insurance guarantee to support businesses during COVID-19


04 June 2020

Trade Credit Insurance provides protection for businesses when customers do not pay their debts owed for products or services. But due to COVID-19 and businesses struggling to pay bills, businesses have faced the risk of credit insurance withdrawn, or premiums increasing to unaffordable levels.

The Government has today announced Trade Credit Insurance will receive up to £10 billion of government guarantees. 

The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme, which has been agreed following extensive discussions with the insurance sector, will see the vast majority of Trade Credit Insurance coverage maintained across the UK.

Businesses do not need to apply directly to this scheme, as support will be administered directly between the Government and available insurers operating in the UK market.

The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and running until 31 December 2020, with the potential for extension if required.

The scheme will be followed by a joint BEIS/HMT-led review of the Trade Credit Insurance market to ensure it can continue to support businesses in future.
Business Secretary of State Alok Sharma said:

“Trade Credit Insurance is a daily necessity for hundreds of thousands of businesses across the UK – particularly those in non-service sectors such as the manufacturing and construction sectors.  

Our £10 billion guarantee gives peace of mind to businesses, allowing them to continue to trade and maintaining liquidity in supply chains. This reinsurance scheme is an important step as we carefully set about firing up our economy as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Chief Executive of the BMF and Chair of the Insurance and Surety Working Group for CLC Covid-19 Task Force, John Newcomb said:

“The construction industry is one of the largest users of trade credit insurance accounting for some 30% of the market. Amongst other things, trade credit insurance gives builders’ merchants the confidence to trade freely with SME building firms who largely operate in the residential sector. The government-backed guarantee will keep cash flowing through the building materials supply chain and protect thousands of jobs.”

Andy Mitchell CBE, co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said:

“Trade credit insurance plays a significant role in construction, giving businesses the confidence to trade with one another. Our Industry Recovery Plan seeks to provide the construction industry with the tools and support they need to get back to work. The launch of this government-backed guarantee to support the provision of trade credit insurance is therefore a welcome announcement.”
 
Trade Credit Insurance provides protection for businesses when customers do not pay their debts owed for products or services. But due to COVID-19 and businesses struggling to pay bills, businesses have faced the risk of credit insurance withdrawn, o

Construction industry sets out plan for recovery


1 June 2020

Plans for a post-Covid-19 revival of the UK construction sector have been published today by the Construction Leadership Council’s Covid-19 Task Force.

The Task Force, which represents the entire construction supply chain from product manufacturers and merchants to contractors, housebuilders and specialists, has laid out proposals to secure the future of construction businesses nationwide, while setting the industry on a sustainable path towards recovery. 

The proposals, which have been developed and agreed by the sector’s leading trade bodies, include recommendations to:

Get industry back to work wherever it is safe to do so
Maximise employment and retain key skills
Ensure a pipeline of future workload for all parts of the sector
Boost productivity to secure improved value
Transform the industry through technology & digitalisation

The task force was established as the crisis took hold to provide focus on industry efforts to combat the impact of coronavirus.  In the early days of the crisis it tackled immediate issues such as development of Site Operating Procedures to safeguard workers and addressing shortages of product availability. 

With the UK Government encouraging businesses to return to work wherever possible, the task force examined the challenges that would arise as the industry entered the recovery phase of the crisis. Today’s report looks at the short, medium and long-term actions that will be required to overcome these problems, while grasping the opportunities to build a better industry in the future.  

Industry bodies will work together to develop four sector specific plans that align to the CLC’s overarching recovery plan.  The Builders Merchant Federation will work with others to progress detailed plans for the Housing and RMI sectors.  

The task force is now engaging with Government to test how the plans proposals might be delivered. 

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “Our commitment to get Britain building is central to the mission of this government, which is why last month I ensured home building can restart in a way that is safe. We are a pro-development government that wants to build houses of all types in all parts of the country, so that people have the homes that they need. I welcome the CLC’s Roadmap to Recovery and I will be continuing to work closely with the industry to ensure we’re backing the success of our construction sector.”
 
Builders Merchants Federation, Chief Executive Officer, John Newcomb said: “Since its formation at the start of the crisis the CLC’s Covid-19 Taskforce has shown how effective the industry can be when it works towards a common goal.  As we enter the recovery phase we have a real opportunity to deliver a coordinated programme that will benefit the whole industry and support the UK economy.”

Construction Leadership Council joint chair Andy Mitchell said: “The unprecedented challenge of coronavirus calls for unprecedented solutions. I am delighted by the way that the industry has collaborated at pace to develop this plan, targeting those interventions that will help the industry get back on its feet as quickly as possible. We hope that everyone will take the opportunity to read the plan and consider the part you can play in its delivery.”

The CLC Roadmap to Recovery can be viewed online at the CLC website.
 
Plans for a post-Covid-19 revival of the UK construction sector have been published today by the Construction Leadership Council’s Covid-19 Task Force.

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1


28 May 2020

Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020. Drilling down regionally identifies a greater impact of social distancing and lockdown measures in London and the South East than in other parts of the country.

While all eleven regions had lower sales across the quarter compared with Q1 2019 (-6.7% nationally), the South East excluding London (-10.7%) and London (-9.8%) were the worst affected.  At the other end of the scale, Scotland (-0.6%) and West Midlands (-2.7%) were least affected.  

Although Q1 2020 benefitted from five extra trading days over Q4 2019 national sales were still marginally lower (-0.8%) with London (-6.5%) the weakest performer.  However, six regions outperformed the national average, led by East Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside, which were both up by 2.7%. 

The quarter’s poor performance was exacerbated in March when the full extent of the government measures to supress the transmission of Covid-19 came into play, with all regions reporting lower sales compared to March 2019.  Once again London (-23.1%) and South East excluding London (-18.5%) were the worst affected regions, while Wales (-8.5%) and Scotland (-10.1%) recorded the smallest falls.

Taking a longer term view, the Moving Average Trend, which compares the last 12 months to March 2020 with the 12 month period prior to that, saw total merchant sales down -2.9% worsening from -0.9% a month ago.  Scotland was the strongest performer during this period, with London and South East excluding London doing least well.

Commenting on the regional picture, BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “The performance of builders merchants’ sales in different parts of the country offers a clear reflection of the regional health of construction.  From the Q1 results we can see that London and the South East were the first regions to be significantly affected by Covid-19, even prior to the lockdown.  The next Quarter’s results will tell us if those regions will also be in the vanguard of the recovery.”
 
Merchant sales figures show London and South East hit hardest in Q1
Regional figures have now been published for the BMF’s latest Builders Merchants Building Index report covering Q1 2020.

Industry comes together to minimise product shortages


26 May 2020

Construction Leadership CouncilAs government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to build confidence, dispel rumours and minimise supply and demand constraints.

The CLC’s Product Availability Group – jointly chaired by the BMF and the Construction Products Association (CPA) – meets weekly on-line, bringing together key manufacturers, merchants, Tier 1 contractors, SME builders and housebuilders to understand current stock levels, actual or potential pinch points. and when and how any issues are being addressed.

The picture that emerged last week suggests that there is a good supply of the majority of building materials and products. The Brick Development Council confirmed that there are 480 million clay bricks ready for immediate delivery from 56 factories around the country. Within the supply chain there is also depth of stock in plumbing and heating, general lightside and electrical products. Increased plaster production should see stock levels restored by the end of next month. However, with some quarries still to open, the group has noted regional variations in the availability of aggregates.

Peter Caplehorn, Chief Executive of the CPA, said: “The meetings are proving invaluable in shedding light on the availability of different product groups and the circumstances and business reasons behind their status, as well as the consequences, including a small but critical number of product shortages which are now being resolved with increasing production.

“Ultimately, what we’ve helped facilitate is a frank but collegial discussion around business planning that has helped us share the facts, dispel rumours and uncertainty, and plot a way forward to ‘re-open’ the industry.”

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “This Group has been instrumental in addressing some difficult supply and demand issues since the early days of the lockdown when most businesses chose to close and only ‘essential’ projects were the focus of attention.

“Since then, we’ve been pleased to see confidence growing and nearly all of our merchants re-opening, builders returning, site output increasing, and manufacturers ramping up capacity in line with new orders. All of this is being done with new operating procedures in place to ensure that safety is paramount.”

“I’m encouraged that, in the face of unprecedented circumstances, our industry is working so collaboratively to address the challenges we are facing and get Britain building again.”
As government and industry seek to quickly and safely increase construction activity up and down the country, a group led by product manufacturers, suppliers and merchants under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is helping to

Construction trade body welcomes COVID-19 plans


26 May 2020

A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

According to the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), the plans set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday (21 May) will enable its members to gear-up to meet demand when construction works are reintroduced. 
 
BMF members operate from 420 branches and 26 manufacturing sites across Scotland. 

John Newcomb, chief executive of the BMF, said: “The phased approach set out by the First Minister will enable our members to schedule their activities accordingly.

“They will be able to plan ahead and meet the demands for building products and materials, once the construction industry returns to work in the future.”

Ninety per cent of BMF merchant members are currently open or partially open, to support essential works, with restrictions in place to ensure safety first.

Mr Newcomb added: “We have already 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. 

“This 18-page document covers procedures for 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 BMF is a member of Scotland’s Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV), which is in regular contract with industry colleagues and the Scottish Government.
 
A trade body has welcomed the phased route map approach announced by the Scottish Government to ease lockdown restrictions.

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.

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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