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COMMENT Value-added S


ometimes you just need to take a step back and think what it is that is really, truly valued. In this industry it’s people. People who make stuff, people who sell stuff, people who buy stuff and people who use stuff (dare I suggest, even people who write about stuff too?).


We value those people who commit to being the best they can at making their stuff. We value those people who commit to being the best at selling the right stuff, in the best way possible to people who need it. Over the past year, we have seen what people in all those sectors of the supply chain can really achieve when the proverbial chips are down. There were manufacturers who worked tirelessly to ensure that if merchants needed stock, they would ensure that stock got to them. There were merchants who ensured they remained open so that their builder customers could get the stock they needed to continue their work. There are instances all over the building materials supply chain of customer service that goes above and beyond what might be expected under normal circumstances. Why do people do that? Because they know their customers. Because they are committed to those customers. They take the time and trouble to understand what their customers need and they go out and provide it.


I think Steve Francis, CEO of SIG put it as succinctly as I could when issuing the company’s 2020 annual results when he said: “We are at our best when we are a local, sales and technical service-driven business, partnering closely with our key suppliers and operating with empowered and entrepreneurial branch teams”. He was talking about his own group, of course, but it could just as easily apply to any of the companies that we have featured in the Trailblazers benchmarking supplement of the top 50 or so UK merchants that BMJ has produced with this issue. It probably could


CONTACTS Builders Merchants Journal


Datateam Business Media London Road Maidstone Kent ME15 8LY Tel: 01622 687031 www.buildersmerchantsjournal.net


EDITORIAL Group Managing Editor: Fiona Russell Horne 01622 699101 07721 841382 frussell-horne@datateam.co.uk


Assistant editor Catrin Jones 01622 699186


cjones@datateam.co.uk


Production Controller: Phil Hammond


be said about a great many of the other companies that fall outside the remit of the publication too, but there’s a limit to how many companies we can include.


I’ve gone into greater detail in the supplement itself about the importance of bearing in mind the limitations of compiling such swathes of information in an industry that is constantly changing, but the fact remains that merchanting has acquitted itself pretty well over the past couple of years and that’s something to be proud of. Local branches for local people has become something of a cliché, but like all clichés there’s a good deal of truth in it. The last 12 months has caused massive change across the industry and it probably won’t ever be completely the same. Enforced working from home has shown many companies just what can be achieved without trekking half way across the country to see customers. It’s shown just how important communication is with customers and suppliers, but that such communication doesn’t have to be in person, unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s also demonstrated just how valuable those visits can be at times.


Many of us are relishing the thought of getting back out and about and to events again, but I suspect it will be to the events and visits that we know we really need to attend. It will be the ones where we know the real benefits don’t come from the structured meetings or the deal discussions, but from the chats in the coffee queue and over a swift G&T in the bar afterwards. That’s where we really get to find out what matters to customers and it’s one of the ways that great customer service is generated. BMJ


Fiona Russell-Horne Group Managing Editor - BMJ





The value of life lies not in the length of days but in the use you make of them; he has lived for a long time who has little lived


Montaigne


CONTENTS 4 Newsround


News from around the industry 8 News Extra


The Green Homes Grant – Gone


10 Business Helpdesk The BMF Experts look at Covid testing


12 People Who’s moved where


13 Viewpoint


BMJ’s columnists share their views.


16 Merchant Focus Bradfords’ sustainability agenda.


19 Timber Decking sales spring forward.


20 BMJ Industry Awards


Nominations are now open


21 Sustainability Neoperl can help save water and save the planet


22 Sustainability Ho the industry can reduce its impact on the planet.


28 Transport Got a delivery? Get a bike.


31 IT


ADVERTISING Publication Manager: Dawn Tucker 01622 699148 07934 731232 dtucker@datateam.co.uk


Senior Account Manager: Burim Osmani 01622 699174 07934 865418 bosmani@datateam.co.uk


North & midlands sales: David Harman 01772 462596


david.harman@talktalk.net


Publisher: Paul Ryder


pryder@datateam.co.uk CIRCULATION


ABC audited average circulation


July 2018-June 2019: 7,801 SUBSCRIPTIONS


UK 1 year: £97 UK, 2 years: £164 Outside UK: one year £113/$204; two years: £196/$353


© Datateam Business Media Ltd 2021.


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means, electronic or mechanical including photo-copying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without the prior written consent of the publisher. The title Builders Merchants Journal is registered at Stationers’ Hall. Suppliers have contributed towards production costs of some photographs in this issue.


How technology can Makena difference


33 Doors and Windows Trends and developments in joinery and ironmongery


36 BMF Industry Voice News and views from the BMF


39 Product News The latest product developments from suppliers.


42 And Finally News and the BMJ Crossword. April 2021 www.buildersmerchantsjournal.net 3 ”


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