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TRAILBLAZERS


OPERATING MARGIN: CAUSE FOR CONCERN? 1. C&W Berry 2. Huws Gray 3. Lawsons


4. JT Atkinson 5. MP Moran 6. MKM


7. AW Lumb


8. Boys & Boden 9. Walter Tipper


10. James Hargreaves 11. Sydenhams 12.Covers 13. LBS


14.JT Dove 15.MGM Timber


16. Robert Price & Sons 17.RGB


18. Crossling


19.Myers Building Supplies 20. Haldane Shiells 21. Joseph Parr 22.CRS


23. John A Stephens 24. Carver 25. Turnbull 26. Markovitz 27. Elliott Bros


28. Grant & Stone 29. Kellaway 30. Frank Key


31. AW Champion 32. Bradford & Sons 33. Browns


34. James Burrell 35. Alsford Timber 36. John Nicholls 37. Builder Depot


38. National Timber Group 39. Beesley & Fildes 40. EH Smith


41. Grafton Merchanting GB 42.Beggs & Partners 43. Travis Perkins 44. Williams 45. Beatsons


8.5% 8.2% 8.2% 7.6% 7.1% 6.8% 6.7% 6.5% 6.4% 6.3% 6.1% 4.9% 4.8% 4.8% 4.3% 4.1% 4.0% 4.0% 4.0% 3.9% 3.7% 3.3% 3.3% 3.1% 3.1% 3.0% 3.0% 3.0% 2.9% 2.8% 2.6%


-2.6% 2.2% 2.1% 2.0% 1.9% 1.8% 1.5% 1.4% 1.4% 1.3% 1.2% 1.2% 1.0% 0.6%


46. Howarth Timber Supplies 0.6% 47. Kent Blaxill 48. Jewson 49. Lords


0.5% 50.Wolseley UK


51. UK Plumbing Supplies 52. Nicholls & Clarke


-0.0% -0.9% -1.0% -2.5% -2.6%


53.Parker Building Supplies -2.8%


OPERATING MARGIN GROWTH: SEVEN YEAR LOW 1. Carver


2. Frank Key


3. Myers Building Supplies 4. Kellaway 5. Lawsons 6. J T Dove 7. Markovitz 8. C&W Berry


9. Builder Depot 10. Bradford & Sons 11.MP Moran


12.Walter Tipper 13. AW Lumb 14.RGB


15. James Hargreaves 16. Haldane Shiells 17. AW Champion 18. James Burrell 19.MKM


20. JT Atkinson


21. John A Stephens 22.Covers


23. Joseph Parr 24.MGM Timber 25. LBS


26. Sydenhams 27. Elliott Bros 28. Browns


55.2% 54.1% 41.0% 33.8% 17.0% 7.7% 7.6% 4.5% 3.8% 3.0%


-1.3% -2.9% -4.1% -5.0% -5.6% -5.9% -6.9% -7.0% -9.0% -9.6%


-10.6% -11.4% -13.9% -15.9% -16.0% -19.4% -20.5% -22.1%


29. Grafton Merchanting GB -23.4% 30. Crossling


31. Alsford Timber 32.Huws Gray


33. Robert Price & Sons 34.CRS


35. Turnbull 36. EH Smith


37. John Nicholls


-25.2% -25.3% -32.2% -32.5% -33.5% -34.9% -35.6% -38.9%


38. Howarth Timber Supplies -46.0% 39. Grant & Stone


40. National Timber Group 41. Williams


42.Beggs & Partners 43. Kent Blaxill 44. Beatsons


45. Beesley & Fildes 46. Lords


47. Parker Building Supplies 48.Wolseley UK


49. Boys & Boden


50. UK Plumbing Supplies 51. Travis Perkins


52. Nicholls & Clarke 53. Jewson


April 2021 A supplement to builders merchants journal


-54.0% -58%


-69.5% -80.4% -85.5% -87.7% -89.1% -215.3% -411.0%


n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a


OPERATING MARGIN


On the face of it, this looks reassuring: 44 of the 52 Trail Blazers were profitable at the operating level in their latest reporting periods. There can’t be much wrong with an industry where 85% of the leading players have reported operating profits, can there? Except… 85% is actually the lowest figure for seven years. In 2020, 48 out of 53 Trailblazers (91%) reported an operating profit. In 2019, it was 49 out of 52 (94%); in 2018, 50 out of 50 (100%, obviously). 2017 saw 47 Trail Blazers out of 48 (98%) filing an operating profit, in 2016 it was 46 out of 46 (100%), and in 2015 it was 40 out of 42 (95%). BMJ has always considered operating margin to be one of the three key trading ratios (the other two being sales growth and stockturn) – so this table may actually be rather less reassuring than it first appears.


OPERATING MARGIN GROWTH This is less reassuring: only eight of the 52 Trail Blazers saw an actual improvement in operating margin in their latest financial period. 37 of the companies listed remained profitable at operating level, but less so than a year earlier.


The longer-term view puts this into context. In 2015, 31 of the Trail Blazers improved operating margin. In 2016 the figure rose to 39, then in 2017 it dropped to 29. 2018 saw a further drop to 21, 2019 rallied slightly with 22 companies showing a gain, but in 2020 it declined again to 17.


So this year’s total of just nine Trailblazers recording an improvement in margin is the lowest number for at least seven years. When people use the phrase ‘pressure on margins’, this is what they are talking about.


LEAGUE TABLES


BMJ LEAGUE TABLES SPONSORED BY


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