BMF News

CBI Lead Economist to speak at BMF Conference

Alpesh Paleja, Lead Economist in the CBI’s economics team, has been confirmed to speak at the BMF Members’ Annual Conference on 19 September. 

Alpesh’s role at the CBI focuses on the UK economy and leading its work on the economic forecast.  Alpesh oversees much analytical work across the team – including the CBI’s prestigious business surveys – and regularly presents to and advises businesses on economic developments and the outlook. He has worked at the CBI for fifteen years in a variety of roles, previously covering emerging markets and leading economic analysis on a variety of policy projects.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “With the rate of inflation falling and a general election on the horizon, this is a pivotal time for the UK economy.  I’m sure everyone will be interested to hear from Alpesh on what is likely to come next.”

The BMF’s annual flagship event will take place on 18 and 19 September at the Leonardo Hotel and Conference Venue at Hinckley Island in Leicestershire. In addition to informative and entertaining conference sessions, interactive workshops and exhibition, the event encompasses sporting and social networking opportunities, including the BMF Golf Tournament and a black-tie Awards Dinner celebrating members’ achievements.

For more information and to book your place at the BMF Annual Conference and Awards , headline sponsor Unilin Insulation, please visit or contact [email protected]


Alpesh Paleja, Lead Economist in the CBI’s economics team, has been confirmed to speak at the BMF Members’ Annual Conference on 19 September.

Building Safety Regulator Webinars

Welcome to the Building Safety Regulator – webinar series

The Building Safety Regulator (BDR) and partners (CLC/OPSS) bring you a series of webinars, designed to educate and inform stakeholders and duty holders involved in the wider built environment. They are your gateway to a world of knowledge and expertise, dedicated to advancing building safety.

The webinars will provide you with:

Expert insights -  feature leading experts from BSR and industry who will share their knowledge, experiences and insights, helping you stay ahead of the changes.

Accessible anytime, anywhere -  accessible online, allowing you to participate from the comfort of your home or office, at a time that suits your schedule.

Act now - understand the regulatory changes and what you need to do as a duty holder

Join us on our mission to elevate building safety standards and drive positive change in the industry.

Together, we can work to make sure residents are safe and feel safe in their homes.

NEXT WEBINAR  22 April 10am – 12noon 
Construction Products – Exploring progress and perspectives on compliance of construction products

Post-Building Safety Act 2022, this is your opportunity to hear from and engage directly with representatives of industry, government and the Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS), the UK’s regulator for construction products, as they explore their perspectives on compliance of construction products.

Chair – Peter Caplehorn,  CE CPA and CLC Construction Products lead for Building Safety
Speakers - Duncan Johnson, Deputy Director Construction Products, OPSS, Dept for Business and Trade
Louise Barr, Deputy Director Construction Products DLUHC
Adam Turk, CEO Siderise.




Join this webinar run by the Building Safety Regulator to learn more about safety compliance on construction products from experts in this field.

Buttle's Welcomes Lib Dem Daisy Cooper, MP

How the building materials’ supply chain is evolving to support environmental responsibility in construction - and responding to the net zero carbon challenge - was the focus of a constituency visit by Daisy Cooper MP last Friday.

The MP for St Albans visited Buttle’s, a 105-year old business based in the town, to see how it helps constituents to improve the thermal and energy performance of homes and workplaces.

Daisy Cooper, who is her Party’s Deputy Leader and Health Spokes

person, was welcomed by Peter Buttle, Chairman, and Ian Church, Managing Director. Touring the branch, Ms Cooper was shown examples of the sustainable materials and products available to Buttle’s customers in Hertfordshire and North London. She also heard from Shelby Williams, Branch Manager, how merchants and their SME customers have managed with higher raw material, energy, labour and transport costs.

Concluding her visit, Daisy Cooper MP said:

“It was great to visit Buttle’s to learn how they are embracing low and zero-carbon initiatives, whilst continuing to serve their traditional house-building and property improvement markets”.

“It’s encouraging to find a well-known, local family-run business face the future and embrace not only carbon-neutral suppliers, but carbon-negative ones too”.

“I want to thank Shelby and her team for helping local builders and DIY enthusiasts with their building and home improvement projects, and for giving me the opportunity to see for myself their contribution to not only St Alban’s economy, but also more widely around the county”.

As Shadow Health Minister, Daisy Cooper MP discussed how to prevent condensation, damp and mould in homes that cause respiratory problems and affect human health. During the Coalition Government, Lib Dem ministers were instrumental in efforts to tighten the Building Regulations to tackle indoor air quality, insulate more homes and improve living conditions.

Ian Church, Buttle’s Managing Director said:

“We were delighted to welcome Daisy Cooper and show her how Buttle’s has evolved over the one hundred and five years since we began in 1919. It is great to have our MP take an interest in local firms like ours and offering her insight and support to help businesses to succeed”.

“Merchants ought to be aware that a shift is underway with a sharper focus on the environmental consequences of business, and the way we use resources in our supply chain in a more efficient manner, knowing that stricter targets and stronger regulation are likely in future”.

The visit was another arranged by the BMF as part of its industry and parliament programme. The aim is to show MPs the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for their communities.


Ian Church (Buttle’s MD), Shelby Williams (Branch Manager) and Daisy Cooper MP discuss the state of the market and the international trade in panel products.

Ian Church (Buttle’s MD) explains the C16 and C24 grades of softwood, and the different uses they have, based on their strength and quality.

Shelby Williams (Branch Manager) shows Daisy Cooper MP how to use the compactor & baler machine in which Buttle’s recycles its plastic waste (esp. bulk bags) and cardboard.

Chairman Peter Buttle (left), Managing Director Ian Church (centre) and Daisy Cooper MP (right) meet Branch Manager Shelby Williams and two of her team.


BMF member Buttle's recently welcomed Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson, when she visited their St Alban's base.

Ian Stokes Joins BMF Board

Ian Stokes, Managing Director of Knauf UK and Ireland, has been elected to the Board of the Builders Merchants Federation to serve as the Elected Director-Suppliers with effect from 1 April 2024.  Ian replaces Mike Ward of Wavin, who stepped down earlier this year.

Ian, who has been MD at Knauf since 2010, has over 20 years in the building materials sector and is ideally placed to represent supplier member interests on the BMF Board.

BMF Chairman, Richard Hill said: “I am delighted to welcome Ian to the Board.  His background and experience makes him a perfect replacement for Mike who made an excellent contribution during his time on the Board. The range of experience Ian brings will be extremely valuable as we look to develop the skills of those employed in the sector and build greater public awareness of our industry, and its attractiveness for talented career starters and career switchers.”

BMF CEO, John Newcomb said: “I am very much looking forward to working with Ian, whose experience and passion for our industry aligns with the values of the BMF Board.  I would also like to add my personal thanks to Mike whose advice and support I have greatly valued.”


Ian Stokes, MD of Knauf UK & Ireland has been elected to the Board of the BMF.

BMF leader appointed to forge partnerships with African education charity

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) CEO, John Newcomb has been appointed to the Board of Trustees of a charity that gifts children in Africa with education opportunities.


John Newcomb has joined the leadership team at The Educational Frontier Trust (TEFT), a UK registered charity, that provides funding for the educational needs of marginalised and vulnerable children in Kenya.


His role will include taking responsibility for overseeing partnerships and event-based fundraising for the charity, which supports the Kisima School.


Located 240 km from Nairobi, the school teaches 160 children on a purpose-built five-acre site, giving them the opportunity to transform their lives through academic achievement.


For 11 years, John has been a committed supporter of the Kisima School and has raised more than £25,000 for the facility, with activities including a sponsored cycle and auction of prizes.

He has also supported four students through their education in Kenya, both privately and also via the BMF.

Richard Walton of TEFT, said: “John has already played a big part in our success and we are very pleased to have him join the board.


“He is committed to all we are doing at TEFT to build for the future and will bring a lot of expertise and insight in his new role.”


TEFT will draw on John’s significant experience in fundraising projects, which has seen him motivate the Building Materials sector to raise more than half a million pounds for charities and good causes since 2018.

Those benefitting include the British Heart Foundation, the BMF’s charity for 2023, as well as previous ‘charity of the year’ partners including Band of Builders, Teenage Cancer Trust, Variety-the Children’s charity, Mental Health UK and the Samaritans.


John has also created charity partnerships to pave the way for further appeals, including a funding drive in aid of victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, which raised £18,880. He also spearheaded a campaign across Europe’s Building Materials sector to raise £70,000 and three tonnes of aid for war-torn Ukraine.


John said: “The work at Kisima School is something I feel passionately about.

“I am looking forward to increasing opportunities for the pupils there and amplifying the message and raising funds to provide life-changing chances to young people in Kenya.”


To find out more about the Kisima School, including details of sponsoring a pupil please visit


The BMF's CEO has been appointed to the Board of Trustees of a charity that gifts children in Africa with education opportunities.

BMF welcomes government reforms to boost apprenticeships

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has welcomed the announcement from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of a £60m investment designed to generate up to 20,000 more apprenticeships nationwide, alongside changes to the apprenticeship levy and cuts to red tape.


According to the BMF, the package of support will provide a boost to the BMF Apprenticeship Pledge, launched last year with an ambitious target to create 15,000 new roles in the building materials industry by 2030.


The government announcement includes fully funded training for people under the age of 21, as well as doubling the amount of unused apprenticeship levy funding that SMEs can transfer to other businesses from 25% to 50%.


BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “The announcement is a great step forward for an industry that needs to plug a significant skills gap and address ongoing challenges stemming from an ageing workforce.


“Around 70% of merchants in BMF membership have a turnover of less than £12.5 million, and the reforms will mean larger levy-holders will be able to transfer up to 50% of their unused apprenticeship levy funding to these SME's.


“Apprenticeships are a key route for the development of new talent in our sector. Since launching the BMF Apprenticeship Pledge, 11,464 new apprenticeships places have already been pledged by 22 member companies, and we are confident of reaching our target of 15,000.


“The government’s buzz around apprenticeships also aligns with the major sector awareness programme the BMF will launch later this year.  This will encourage talented people of all ages and from all walks of life to find out how our industry makes a difference to our homes and the built environment around us and discover which of the many and varied careers availabe would be right for them.”

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has welcomed the announcement from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of a £60m investment designed to generate up to 20,000 more apprenticeships nationwide...

CCPI Launches Webinar Series

The aim of the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) is to raise standards in construction product information and move the industry to a place where product information is clear, accurate, accessible, up-to-date and unambiguous. 

What is the Code for Construction Product Information?

The Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) seeks to provide greater confidence in product information, whether written in a brochure, a presentation, or on a website or social media, used by specifiers and users of product information when making design decisions, installing, using and/or maintaining verified products.

The Code is a set of minimum requirements that promotes positive culture and behaviour change in the approach and management of product information by the construction product manufacturing & distribution industry.

The Code covers critical aspects from responsibility for product information, to accuracy of and clarity of performance claims made, general information and competency.


CCPI has recently launched a webinar series tailored for Merchants & Distributors, following the initial participation of leading organisations in CCPI assessments under the Merchants & Distributors Code.

Tuesday 9th April, 12:00 pm

Tuesday 14th May, 13:00 pm

Tuesday 18th June, 15:30 pm

If you are a Merchant or Distributor and would like to find out more about the 4-Clause version of CCPI that is specifically designed and targeted for merchants, distributors and wholesalers please register for one of our upcoming webinars by clicking on the link below. 

To register for the CCPI Merchant & Distributors Webinar, please register via the Code for Construction Product Information website CCPI Merchant & Distributors Webinar Series 2024 Dates (

Please note that these webinars are aimed at merchants, distributors and wholesalers. If you are a manufacturer, you can register for a different series of tailored webinars at

For any questions prior to the webinar, please contact us via email at [email protected] 



The Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) is launching a series of useful webinars tailored for merchants and distributors.

P&H sales volumes reflect construction slowdown

Figures released by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) in the Plumbing and Heating Merchants Index (PHMI) for the final quarter of 2023 continue to reflect the slowdown in construction, with total value sales growth driven by higher prices rather than an increase in sales volume.



Quarter 4 2023 v Quarter 4 2022

Total value sales in Q3 2023 were +0.4% higher compared with the same period last year. Volume sales were down -5.0%, while prices rose by +5.6%. With one more trading day in Q4 2023, like-for-like sales were -1.3%lower.


Quarter 4 2023 v Quarter 3 2023

Total value sales in Q4 2023 were +7.7% higher than in the previous three months, July to September 2023. With four less trading days in Q4, like-for-like sales were +14.8% higher. However, this increase was driven solely by price, which was up +10.1%, while volume sales were -2.2% lower.


Full year 2023 v 2022

Plumbing & Heating Merchants value sales in the period from January 2023 to December 2023 increased by +4.5% compared with the same period in 2022. With two more trading days in 2024, like-for-like value sales were +3.6% higher for the. year. Once again this was driven by price. Volume sales were -2.4% lower, while prices increased by +7.1%.


The data for the PHMI is taken solely from P&H specialists, including City Plumbing Supplies, James Hargreaves Plumbing Depot, Plumbfix, PTS, Williams & Co, and Wolseley, who form part of GfK’s Plumbing & Heating Merchants Panel, and there is no overlap or double counting between the PHMI and the BMF’s established Builders Merchants Building Index which analyses sales at generalist merchants.

Figures released by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) in the Plumbing and Heating Merchants Index (PHMI) for the final quarter of 2023 continue to reflect the slowdown in construction.

P&H sales increase but volumes are down

The latest figures from the Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) report show total value sales for January through specialist plumbing and heating merchants were up +1.5% in 2024 compared to the same month in 2023. But volumes decreased -3.7% as prices increased +5.4%. 

Taking trading day differences into account, like-for-like sales for January – which had one more day in 2024 compared to 2023 were -3.1% lower.

Month-on-month, January value sales were up +30.7% on weak December sales. However, with six extra trading days in January, like-for-like sales were down -4.9%. Volume sales increased +41.5% and prices fell -7.6%. 

Total value sales in the three months November 2023 to January 2024 were flat (-0.2%) compared to the same period a year ago. Volume sales were down -5.5% with prices rising +5.6%. With an extra trading day in the most recent three-month period, like-for-like sales were -1.9% lower.

Value sales were also flat (+0.2%) when comparing November 2023 to January 2024 to the previous three-month period (August to October 2023). With five less trading days in the most recent period, like-for-like sales were +8.5% higher. Volumes fell -7.2% as prices increased +7.9%. 

Plumbing & Heating merchants’ value sales in the rolling 12-month period from February 2023 to January 2024 were +3.4% ahead of the previous 12-month period. With two additional trading days this year, like-for-like value sales increased +2.6%. This was largely driven by price (+6.6%) as volume sales were down -3.0%.

January’s PHMI index was 110.2. With an additional trading day compared to the base figure, the like-for-like index was 103.5. 

Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research, which produces the report says: “There were few reasons for the Plumbing & Heating industry to be cheerful in 2023 but despite a fall in volumes and continuing price rises in January, there’s much more to be cheerful about. 

“The latest ONS figures show that on a sector level, private housing repair and maintenance improved +3.2% over the three-months to January, and in the month of January private new housing volumes were up +2.6%. Inflation is expected to return to more normal levels and interest rates are forecast to fall. House prices are starting to rise again as demand grows and there’s the prospect of better times ahead with an Autumn election.

“GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index dropped two points to -21 in February – but people’s view of their own improving financial situation over the coming 12 months was unaffected - and February’s wobble comes after dramatic improvements in consumer confidence in the previous twelve months.”

The Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) is the first to analyse point of sales data collated from specialist plumbing & heating merchants with combined annual sales of £3bn, to chart their performance month-to-month.

Based on data from GfK’s Plumbing & Heating Merchant Panel, which represents over 70% of the market by value, the report provides reliable data and a platform and voice for the industry, as well as for leading plumbing & heating brands. It is produced by MRA Research for the Builders Merchants Federation. There is no overlap or double counting between PHMI and the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) sales data. 

To download the latest report, or learn more about becoming an Expert, speaking on behalf of your market, visit

Figures released by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) in the Plumbing and Heating Merchants Index (PHMI) for the final quarter of 2023 continue to reflect the slowdown in construction.

Tentative start to 2024 as january value sales slip -2.1% year on year

The latest Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report shows builders’ merchants’ value sales were down -2.1% in January compared to the same month in 2023, with volume sales falling -3.2% and prices creeping up +1.1%. With one more trading day this year, like-for-like sales were down -6.5%.
Year-on-year, nine of the twelve categories sold more than January 2023 with Workwear & Safetywear (+18.3%), Landscaping (+6.2%) and Decorating (+6.1%) the better performers. However, falling sales in two of the largest categories impacted overall sales: Heavy Building Materials (-3.8%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-6.3%).
Compared to a poor December 2023, total merchant sales in January were +41.2% higher month-on-month. Volume sales were up +44.2% while prices were down -2.1%. With six additional trading days in January, like-for-like sales increased +2.7%. All categories sold more including the largest three categories: Landscaping (+52.2%), Timber & Joinery Products (+43.8%), and Heavy Building Materials (+42.5%). Renewables & Water Saving (+19.4%) grew the least.

Download and read the report here 

Figures released by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) in the Plumbing and Heating Merchants Index (PHMI) for the final quarter of 2023 continue to reflect the slowdown in construction.

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Press enquiries for the builders merchants and building materials industry;

The BMF is the only trade association that represents and protects the interests of builders’ merchants and suppliers to the building materials sector in the UK and Ireland.

Total membership from 1 Jan 2024 stands at 950 merchant, supplier and service companies who together have combined sales of over £44.9bn and employ around 208,000 people in the building materials industry. BMF’s 498 merchant members, including 73 now from Ireland, operate from over 5,800 branches across the UK and Ireland.

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

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

Jane Shepherd
[email protected]
07985 129315
01538 308685