58.9 the Markit/ CIPS Index rose to its higest

point this decade in March

Merchant sales stay strong through third lockdown

Builders merchants’ sales re- mained strong through the third lockdown, according to the latest Builders Merchants Building Index report. Year-on-year growth was driven by three categories: Timber & Joinery sales were up 7.7% on January 2020, while Landscap- ing rose 3.7% and Workwear & Safetywear rose 2.4%.

In contrast, both the Plumbing Heating & Electrical and Kitch- ens & Bathrooms categories saw double-digit falls, with Decorating the weakest category at 17.2% below last years’ level. Compared with the previous month, total January 2021 sales were 20.6% higher, helped by three more trading days.

SIG sales slide but plans stay on track

Building materials distributor SIG saw sales fall 13% to £1,974m for the year to December 31 2020, tak- ing it into a pre-tax loss of £76.3m from a £17.7m profit last time. That said, the group reported that 2020 finished ahead of expecta- tions, with like-for-like sales up 4% in the fourth quarter. Trading in 2021 is continuing in a similar vein. Much of the 2020 performance was down the pandemic, “with some continued underlying weak- ness in performance.” Chief Executive Officer Steve Fran-

cis said: “I am delighted that due to our Return to Growth strategy we delivered a solid second half and have begun to return the business to growth after a long period of decline. The new UK management team has rebuilt its business and, everywhere we operate, we have re- connected with employees, custom- ers and suppliers. Their response has reaffirmed that we are at our best as a local, sales and service-driven business, partnering closely with our key suppliers and operating with empowered and entrepreneurial branch teams.”

30,000 sq ft of warehouse space

at the new SIG branch in Cambuslang

NBG announces board changes for 2021

Independent builders merchant buying group National Buying Group has welcomed a new Executive Board member and three new Regional Chairs, as well as extending the terms of two other Board members for 2021. Rachel Fryers, director of Merritt & Fryers Ltd, has joined the NBG Executive Board in place of Peter Worthington. Rex Nye managing director of NYEs Building Sup- plies and Jimmy Stewart, director of Stewarts Building Services Ltd, have extended their terms and will remain on the Board for 2021. In addition to an extended term on the Executive Board, Nye is also assuming the position of regional chair for the South East, John Wardrope, director at Cartmore Building Supply Company, takes over from Gerry Carney as the re- gional chair for Scotland and Kella- way Building Supplies’ commercial director Sean Morgan picked up the reins as the south west chair towards the end of last year.

Nick Oates, managing director at NBG, said: “NBG has always been about community and sup- porting one another and this is as important now, as it has ever been before. It is crucial for our Execu- tive Board to lead the way in this and make sure Partners are given a role in the decision making and direction of the group. “Whilst we are saddened to see Peter Worthington depart from the board, whose support was very much appreciated, we are excited to welcome Rachel to the team and we are confident that her expertise will be invaluable. The regional changes are also really exciting, Rex, Sean and John’s local knowledge will be key and crucial to helping make strides across the UK, throughout this year and beyond.”

Archwood reveals Brexit pressures to BBC

The boss of Archwood Group, the North Wales-based parent of Rich- ard Burbidge and Atkinson & Kirby has told the BBC of the pressures companies are facing from long delays and extra costs due to Brexit and urges a more ‘streamlined’ approach to paperwork. Josh Burbidge, managing direc- tor of Archwood Group, told the BBC: “Our exports to Ireland have caused the most challenges, with our goods being held up at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for around three weeks. “Initially, the issue was what information was required and in what format. For example, the HMRC system needed to be updated because our goods

April 2021

had been incorrectly flagged as needing phytosanitary documenta- tion. This is an official document required when shipping regulated things, such as plants, so shouldn’t be required for our products. Because of this our products are being held at the border for three weeks until reclassified. “We continue to face delays of

our products reaching the Republic of Ireland because the customs paperwork is taking a long time to process, which adds to our costs.” “Moving forward, we’d like to

see more alignment between the UK and the Republic of Ireland on what paperwork is required, rather than asking businesses like ours for certificates that aren’t relevant to what we’re exporting.”

7.7% increase in merchants’ year-on-

year timber & joinery sales in January.


Sussex-based builders merchant Parkers Building Supplies, has launched its online 24 hour trade shop in response to customers’ growing need to be able to order and buy materials at their own convenience day or night, 365 days a year.

Kingfisher is to open 40 more stores at its Screwfix business this year, creating up to 500 new jobs.Screwfix currently has 711 stores in the UK and 12 stores in Ireland employing 11,643 people. It’s target is to have 900 in the UK and ROI. The rapid growth of Screwfix has seen the trade retailer open, on average, one store per week for the last five years. Earlier this year, it announced that it had reached annual sales of £2 billion for the first time.

Cement manufacturer Tarmac has moved to using 50% recycled plastic in its packaging, with the roll out of new all-weather, fully recyclable hybrid bags. Products made at the company’s packaging facilities in Scotland and Wales are all now in production with the new bag, Other sites are due to switch to the latest

Insulation distributor Belgrade Insulation has relocated its

Wellingborough branch to the Brackmills Trade Park in Northampton. This two- year-old unit is situated close to the national road network, including the M1, M6 motorways. Branch Director Mike Cosgrove has brought across his full team to ensure continuity of both customer and supplier contact.


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