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TRAILBLAZERS Pandemic bites? L


ast year’s Trailblazers recorded total sales of £15.4bn between 53 companies; this year it’s just under £15.05bn between 52 companies. But that actually understates the true picture. We have lost Chandlers, for instance, which was taken over by Parker Building Supplies in October 2019 and now comes under the umbrella of Independent Builders Merchant Group in our company listing. Two other major names have disappeared from this year’s survey: Ridgeons, which was bought by Huws Gray in October 2018; and Heating Plumbing Supplies (HPS), which has been hived up into UK Plumbing Supplies (formerly Plumbing & Heating Investments). UK Plumbing Supplies also owns GB Willbond, Plumbcity, Plumbstop, Plumbstore, Bathroom Centre, Gas Centre Holdings, Millbrook Distribution & Spares, and Plumbase. Grant & Stone Group now includes RGB, as of March this year and CRS, which it bought in January 2021, although these are listed separately in the League Tables.


New names this year include Browns Builders Merchants, and Turnbull & Co; new in name and size is the former Rembrand Timber, now part of a much bigger concern, National Timber Group.


Overall, the figures suggest that the market was fairly stable in terms of sales during 2019, with growth fuelled by organic growth and branch expansionas much as acquisition. But this may have been the calm before the storm: EH Smith’s report for the year to June 2020, for example, includes the disclosure that sales in the final quarter (April-June 2020) were down 35% year-on-year. It will not be until Trailblazers 2022 is compiled, however, that we will have a clear picture of the real impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.


NB. Because Trailblazers uses information in the public domain from Companies House, the financial tables used predate some of the industry’s most recent acquisitions. Similarly, the way the financial formulae in the tables work out percentage changes, some calculations are not available. As ever, different companies have different financial year ends.


SALES GROWTH


This table gives a clearer picture of the sales trend: 34 companies recorded a rise in sales in their latest financial periods, and 15 saw a decline.


Some of the gains were the result of significant acquisitions or corporate reorganisation: UK Plumbing Supplies consolidated its subsidiaries into a single holding company, for example, and Huws Gray recorded the effect of its acquisitions during 2019: Ridgeons, obviously, but also JE Fuller, and KF Supplies. Lords re-structured into a new holding company and benefitted from acquisitions; MKM reported that at 30 September 2019 it had 70 branches, compared to 55 a year earlier (and went on to acquire Brookes Ceramics and Ceramic Planet a month later). In other words, much of the growth implied by the upper part of this table wasn’t organic: companies were investing in acquisitions and expansion to increase their market share. Whether this trend will continue in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic world remains to be seen.


SALES: THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM? 1. Travis Perkins 2. Jewson


3. Wolseley UK


LEAGUE TABLES


£6,195.0m £1,924.3m £1,403.2m


4. Grafton Merchanting GB £932.9m 5. MKM


6. Huws Gray 7. National Timber


£457.7m £378.5m £253.4m


8. UK Plumbing Supplies £173.9m 9. Bradford & Sons 10. Haldane Shiells 11. EH Smith


12. Builder Depot 13. Lawsons


14. Howarth Timber 15. Lords


16. JT Atkinson


17. James Hargreaves 18. Williams


19. Grant & Stone 20. Sydenhams 21.Covers


22. Elliott Bros 23. Joseph Parr 24. James Burrell 25.RGB


26.Parker Building 27.JT Dove


28. Nicholls & Clarke 29. John Nicholls 30. LBS


31.MP Moran 32.C&W Berry 33.MGM Timber 34.Walter Tipper


35. Robert Price & Sons 36. Kellaway


37. Alsford Timber 38. Crossling 39. Turnbull 40. Markovitz 41. AW Lumb 42. Carver


43. Boys & Boden 44.CRS


45. Browns


46. Myers Building Supplies 47. Beesley & Fildes 48. Kent Blaxill


BMJ LEAGUE TABLES SPONSORED BY


49.Beggs & Partners 50. AW Champion 51. Frank Key 52. Beatsons


53. John A Stephens April 2021 A supplement to builders merchants journal


£156.0m £130.6m £119.5m £108.0m £106.3m £100.4m £97.8m £91.1m £90.1m £89.7m £87.6m £82.7m £79.5m £75.1m £72.6m £72.1m £70.7m £69.0m £65.4m £64.3m £60.8m £59.5m £56.4m £55.6m £53.4m £52.9m £49.0m £49.0m £48.6m £47.8m £45.3m £45.0m £41.0m £40.4m £36.2m £35.5m £35.5m £33.8m £32.9m £31.7m £31.0m £30.7m £30.2m £27.9m £26.6m


SALES GROWTH: A RATHER MIXED BAG 1. UK Plumbing Supplies 2. National Timber 3. Huws Gray


4. Bradford & Sons 5. Lords 6. MKM


7. Beesley & Fildes 8. CRS


9. Turnbull


10.MGM Timber 11. James Burrell 12. Markovitz 13. Williams 14. JT Dove


15. Lawsons


16.Myers Building Supplies 17. JT Atkinson 18. Boys & Boden 19. Browns


20. Sydenhams 21. John Nicholls 22. Joseph Parr 23. Carver


24. Elliott Bros 25. Kellaway


26. Grant & Stone 27.Walter Tipper 28. Haldane Shiells 29. James Hargreaves 30. John A Stephens 31. AW Champion


32. Grafton Merchanting GB 33. Builder Depot 34. Frank Key


35. Robert Price & Sons 36. Howarth Timber 37. LBS


38.C&W Berry


39.Parker Building 40. Alsford Timber 41.Covers


42. Nicholls & Clarke 43.RGB


44.MP Moran 45. Jewson


46. AW Lumb 47. Crossling


48. Travis Perkins


49.Beggs & Partners 50.Wolseley UK 51. EH Smith 52. Kent Blaxill 53. Beatsons


184.9% 138% 76.9% 66%


24.9% 16.2% 16.1% 15.5% 15.4% 12.9% 12.5% 12.1% 11.7% 11.3% 9.0% 8.3% 8.1% 8.0% 6.2% 5.4% 4.9% 4.2% 4.0% 3.0% 3.0% 2.0% 2.4% 2.3% 1.6% 1.5% 1.4% 1.3% 1.3% 1.0% 0.2%


-2.0% -0.3% -0.6% -0.8% -1.6% -1.9% -2.3% -2.4% -2.9% -4.0% -4.9% -5.7%


-11.0% -11.5% -15.2% -16.1% -18.8% n/a


5


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