Women in Merchanting Round Table – 14 May  

The BMF and Builders’ Merchants News invited a group of leading women to discuss how merchants can attract and retain more female employees at the BMF’s headquarters in Coventry on 14 May 2018.  

The round table was chaired by Elizabeth Eyre, BMN Editor and attended by 12/13 leading women from merchants and suppliers, to discuss why there are so few women in the sector and what can be done to increase the number. The attendees were:  

- Louise Polston, Commercial Director at Alsford Timber
- Natasha Rose, Managing Director of Andrews Building Supplies
- Aisling Kenny, HR Director at the BB Group
- Julie Bullock, HR Director at Ibstock
- Christine Jones, Director at the Joseph Parr Group
- Bev Brown, Managing Director of Lakes Bathrooms
- Linda Clarke, Marketing and Digital Director at MKM Building Supplies
- Lucia Di Stazio, Managing Director of MRA Marketing
- Glynis Catterson, Director at S & A Builders’ Merchants
- Catherine Gibson, Managing Director of Tool Hire
- Lucy Lynch, International Managing Director of Toolstation
- Fiona Kerr, Regional Managing Director, Scotland & North England, at Travis Perkins 
- Christine Wilde, Managing Director of Catnic.  
Topics covered during the lively two-hour discussion included:   

Education/Training The skills shortage
- The poor image of construction generally and of merchanting specifically as a career option
- Lack of information about the merchant sector among young people generally and girls/young women specifically
- Lack of local opportunities for women to get involved in

- Growing demand within construction – merchants are enjoying a boom time – but skills gaps are being identified
- How do merchants recruit new employees? Do they make themselves attractive to women?
- How does working at a merchant fit in with women’s lifestyles, expectations, requirements etc.? 
- What is it like for a woman working at a merchant? What have been the struggles, the successes and the stereotypes?

Retention/Career Progression
- Employment practices
- Culture change
- Physical working conditions

The BMF and BMN thank Ibstock Brick and MRA for their kind sponsorship of this event.     

You can read full details about the round table in the June and July/August editions of Builders’ Merchants News. If you would like to get involved in the next BMN/BMF Women in Merchanting Round Table, please contact Elizabeth Eyre at e.eyre@hgluk.co.uk

For more details about Women in Merchanting click here

Women In Merchanting Round Table video