Monday, 29 October 2018

Builders' merchants sales continue to be up on the year

The latest data from the Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) shows that the value of sales at UK builders’ merchants was up 3.5% in August 2018 compared with August 2017 but down 3.4% on July 2018.

Year on year, Timber & Joinery Products were up by 9.5%, Landscaping was up by 6.9%,   Heavy Building Materials were up by 1.6% and Plumbing Heating & Electrical products were up by 1.2%.

Compared with the previous month, however, all product categories saw sales dip in the holiday month of August except for Workwear & Safetywear, which was up 2.5%.

For the first eight months of 2018, average daily sales were up 3.9% overall compared to the same period of 2017 and the rolling 12-month period saw an increase of 4.8%, driven by Plumbing Heating & Electrical (up 8.7%) and Timber & Joinery (up 6.9%).

The Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) tracks builders’ merchants’ actual sales to builders and contractors using GfK’s Builders’ Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data. The BMBI represents over 80% of the value of the builders' merchants' market.

August’s BMBI index was 124.7, with one additional trading day. Seasonal category Landscaping was top (142.4) followed by Timber & Joinery Products (129.3) and Ironmongery (124.4). Ten of the 12 categories exceeded 100. The average sales a day index for August 2018 was 117.6.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Latest news from FMB's State of Trade Survey

Growth among construction SMEs slowed in most parts of the UK in the third quarter of this year, according to the Federation of Master Builders.

Key results from the FMB’s latest State of Trade Survey, which is the only quarterly assessment of the UK-wide SME construction sector, included:

  • Construction SME workloads remained positive in Q3 2018 but grew at a slower rate than they did in the second quarter of 2018;
  • 86% of builders reported increasing material prices in Q3 2018, up from 76% in Q2 2018;
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers and 59% are struggling to hire carpenters and joiners;
  • More than half (58%) of construction SMEs expect salaries and wages to increase over the next six months.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Growth among the UK’s construction SMEs slowed in the third quarter of this year. A range of factors are at work here, not least ever-increasing material prices. Anecdotally, we are hearing worrying reports of banks withholding previously agreed funding for projects which is delaying start dates and dampening growth.

“This may or may not be related to Brexit-nerves. The construction skills shortage is also taking its toll. More than two-thirds of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers – brickies are easily the most sought-after tradespeople in the building industry currently. These latest figures match the highest we’ve noted since records began a decade ago.

“These skills shortages are also leading to projects being stalled because there physically aren’t enough people to build them. Worse still, the scarcity of trades means that when construction employers can find people, they are paying huge salaries which is putting further pressure on margins.”

“This slowdown in growth should ring alarm bells for the UK Government and give rise to a total rethink of its misguided post-Brexit immigration proposals. Currently, the Government wants to significantly limit the number of construction workers coming into the UK post-Brexit, labelling them ‘low skilled’ and therefore somehow surplus to requirements. Migrant construction workers are indispensable with 13% of our construction workers being from outside of the UK. If construction firms are unable to hire migrant workers post-Brexit, the already severe skills crisis will worsen. This will mean we won’t be able to build the new homes the Government is keen on delivering and infrastructure projects will grind to a halt.

“It is imperative that the post-Brexit immigration system allows construction firms to continue to hire workers of varying skill levels. We hope the Government heeds the warning that these latest results show before it is too late.”

Monday, 22 October 2018

New team for Builders' Merchant Federation's Young Merchant Group

Glenn Paddison, Branch Director at MKM Building Supplies is the new Chair of the Builders’ Merchants Federation’s Young Merchant Group.  He will be supported by Jo Callow, Merchant Sales Support Manager at Knauf Insulation, who was elected to replace Paddison as the Vice Chair.

Paddison takes over from Victoria Fiddies of Catnic who has just completed her two-year term as Chair.

Paddison and Callow took up their new roles following the BMF Young Merchant Group’s first Conference which was held at the NEC during National Construction Week in October.

The Conference, organised as part of the BMF’s Anniversary Year, was a great success, attracting 150 delegates drawn from current, past and potential Young Merchant Group members.  Highlights included keynote speaker George Clarke, the architect, television presenter and campaigner, who not only spoke passionately on the need to attract more young people into the whole construction industry including the building materials sector, but also voiced some ingenious ideas to help overcome the country’s housing shortage.

Membership of the BMF Young Merchant Group is open to merchants and suppliers aged between 21 and 40 holding a key management position within their organisation.  The Group meets twice a year in the autumn and spring, and also organises an annual trip overseas.

As well as offering opportunities to network and share experience, the meetings regularly feature one or more speakers to encourage and inspire members.  Another Conference highlight was the lively Q&A session following an Industry Forum led by Peter Hindle MBE, BMF Chairman, Andrew Harrison, Deputy CEO P&H of Travis Perkins, David Kilburn, Executive Chairman of MKM Building Supplies and Steve Durdant-Hollanby, MD of Alumasc Water Management Solutions, himself a former member of the Young Merchant Group

Paddison and Callow are keen to continue developing the BMF Young Merchant’s work and influence.

Paddison said: “I am honoured to have the opportunity to take on the role of Chair and would like to thank everyone who voted for me as well as MKM Building Supplies for supporting me in taking up this role. I would also like to thank Victoria Fiddies for her excellent leadership during the last two years.  I’m looking forward to working with Jo to broaden the Group’s scope even further.  I believe there is more to achieve through the BMF Ambassador programme to promote careers in our industry to school and college leavers and this group is in a great position to take a leading role in that.  I can also see an opportunity to strengthen our ties with European merchants to learn from their experiences and share best practice, perhaps in the form of a European Conference.”

Commenting on her appointment as Vice Chair, Callow, said: “I’ve been a passionate and committed member of the group for five years and the interaction has definitely helped me as I’ve progressed my career.  As a keen advocate for women in our industry, I’m delighted that I will be continuing the strong and encouraging female presence following Vic’s term of office and look forward to working with Glenn to take forward the baton to continue to grow the group and deliver quality events.”

Callow was also pleased to announce that Knauf Insulation will host the BMF Young Merchant overseas trip in 2019, which will tour the company’s manufacturing facility in Toulouse as well as visiting French builders’ merchants.

Monday, 15 October 2018

BMJ Industry Awards 2019 – Nominate Now!!

We are pleased to let you know that nominations are now open for the BMJ Industry Awards 2019.
Click HERE to nominate your favourite merchants, supplier brands, trainees, showrooms and industry people.
The awards celebrate the very best brands, merchants and people at the heart of the builders’ merchants sector.
This year the Showroom category has been split into two: Merchant Kitchen and Bathroom Showroom of the Year and Merchant Showroom of the Year, while Timber Merchant of the Year is a new category alongside the new ‘Diversity Award’. This will recognise a company that has demonstrated the conscious removal of bias and barriers and introduction of initiatives designed to encourage positive change and development throughout the business. These new additions will join the existing merchant categories Brand accolades and the individual awards.
Companies and individuals are invited to submit an entry for themselves, or to nominate other companies. Full criteria for all categories can be found on the refreshed BMJ Industry Awards website, along with the simple online entry and nomination form.
The winners at the BMJ Industry Awards luncheon, taking place in the heart of London in May 2019.
The event is supported by heavyweight industry names including Knauf Insuation, Hanson Cement, Rockwool and Lakes Bathrooms.
There is a range of sponsorship packages available to support the awards. For more details email Editor-in-Chief Fiona Russell-Horne at

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Construction growth slips to six-month low as Brexit concerns hit

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index slipped to 52.1 in September, down on 52.9 in August and against the neutral 50 reading. However, still showing growth.

Civil engineering was the worst performing sub-category, and while housing and commercial construction increased at a solid pace, the index signalled the weakest upturn in output for six months.

Delivery times for construction products and materials continued to lengthen and intense supply chain pressures were attributed to stock shortages at vendors and stretched transportation capacity. However, the downturn in vendor performance was slightly less marked than the three-and-a-half year low seen in August.

There was a sharp and accelerated increase in average cost burdens in September, with the overall rate of input price inflation the fastest for three months. Respondents widely cited higher fuel prices and greater raw material costs, particularly timber.

The degree of positive sentiment reported by respondents was the second-lowest since February 2013, amid political uncertainty and investor concerns about Brexit.

Duncan Brock, group director at CIPS, said: “A cause of this malaise pointed to increased cost burdens with both fuel prices on the rise, and acute shortages in raw materials, as supplier delivery times have lengthened to an extent not seen since 2015.”

Tim Moore, associate director at IHS Markit, said: “Construction companies continued to note that political uncertainty acted a key drag on decision-making, with Brexit worries encouraging a wait-and-see approach to spending among clients. The main areas reported as likely to see a boost in the coming year were construction work related to large-scale energy and transport projects.”

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Job in Focus for October: Commercial Manager for Electrical Products in London - £100k OTE

Our Job in Focus for October is a management opportunity for supplier of high-end interior cable management products selling to architects, interior designers, consultants, contractors and corporate end users. Tasked with leading a team of 30 people including 4 internal sales executives this person will be office based and be tasked with taking full control of the team.

Our Construction & Building Industry Job in Focus feature takes a detailed look at some of the fantastic sales & marketing construction and building materials job vacancies currently on our books. 

Job in Focus is also promoted on our website. 


Job Title: Commercial Manager
Job Ref: J11000
Product: Electrical
Location: London & South East
Salary: £100k
Sector: Management

Management opportunity for supplier of high-end interior cable management products to architects, interior designers, consultants, contractors and corporate end users 

PACKAGE: Salary of £60,000 to £100,000 plus 10% bonus and profit share, mobile, laptop and travel expenses 

COMPANY: A well-established company within the cable management products and electrical solutions for the more bespoke market. 

ROLE: Commercial Manager / Sales Director Designate: Tasked with leading a team of 30 people including 4 internal sales executives this person will be office based and be tasked with taking full control of the team, gathering market trends, competitor analysis and product launches. You will form a key part of the senior management team reporting directly to the Managing Director and stepping in when she is away. 

LOCATION: Office based in South East London - Commutable from Dartford, Bromley, Croydon, Twickenham, Crawley, Tonbridge or surrounding areas. 

CANDIDATE: We are seeking an experienced manager of salespeople who comes from an SME background working for a manufacturer of commercial interior projects and has knowledge of the specification process with architects. You need to be a hands-on manager able to lead from the front and be diverse enough to manage salespeople as well as the manufacturing, warehouse and admin sides of the business. 

For further information or to discuss your career options contact Natalie Matthews on 01480 405225 or apply online.