Prime Minister’s visit puts the work of builders’ merchants centre stage


18 November 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw first-hand the crucial role builders’ merchants play in the national economy, and how they can support a more sustainable future, with a fact-finding visit to Travis Perkins in his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Mr Johnson was given a tour of the Travis Perkins’ branch in South Ruislip to get a strategic and operational understanding of the industry.

Frank Elkins, Chief Operating Officer of Travis Perkins plc introduced the Prime Minister to branch colleagues, among them, some of the nearly 1000 apprentices the Group has enrolled on programmes across the Group.

Mr Elkins said, “As the industry’s leading Apprenticeship and Kickstart placements provider we outlined how these placements are supporting both the economic recovery, the development of our talent pipeline but also an opportunity to improve diversity and skills across our industry”.

“I was also really proud to showcase how we work with our customers to meet their evolving needs. As a ConstructZero Business Champion with ambitious carbon reduction targets I explained the role we have in working with customers and suppliers, sharing data and ideas to make progress on the decarbonisation and modernisation of our industry.”

During his visit, Mr Johnson climbed into the cab of a fully-electric 27 tonne CCF insulation lorry and heard how Travis Perkins is starting to prepare for a time when his Government will ban the sale of new petrol & diesel LGVs and HGVs.

The visit was organised by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) as part of its industry and parliament programme, to highlight the vital role played by builders’ merchants in the construction supply chain.

John Newcomb, CEO of the BMF, gave the Prime Minister an overview of how its members, which include Travis Perkins, perform an essential function in distributing construction materials and home improvement products across the UK. He also explained how the industry is actively embracing a more sustainable focus.

With the UNCOP26 Climate Conference fresh in mind, the Prime Minister discussed the importance of decarbonising buildings and electrifying heating and transport with Frank Elkins and John Newcomb, who also updated the PM on the Construction Leadership Council’s National Retrofit Strategy.  BMF members will play a central role in this 20-year fully-costed plan to improve existing homes.

Mr Newcomb said: “We were delighted to show to the Prime Minister how our members can support a more sustainable future. It was a particularly timely visit, with the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference taking place”.

“Low or zero-carbon products are crucial in the building and home improvement industries to drive down emissions. We were able to demonstrate to the Prime Minister that the building supply chain is the most efficient route-to-market for these products”.

“BMF members provide the materials, products and expertise needed to de-carbonise our homes. Fitting energy-efficient, low emission and water-saving measures in properties will be key to achieving sustainability goals.”