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BRADFORDS


250 YEARS YOUNG 100


BMJ • 1920-2020 BRADFORD BUILDING SUPPLIES:


When BMJ was launching onto the publishing scene in 1920, one merchant was already 130 years old. We caught up with its CEO David Young to see how the company’s 250th year is treating it.


T


he year is 1770; George III is on the throne and British Explorer, Captain James Cook discovers Australia. Meanwhile, in a corner of rural England, William Bradford of Yeovil starts a merchant business. A business that will go on to witness the Industrial Revolution, survive two World Wars, endure recessions, undergo significant diversifications and make numerous acquisitions.


Bradfords Building Supplies is the oldest builders’ merchants in the UK and it’s celebrating its 250th birthday this year. The company, which had a turnover of £150 million in 2019, currently employs over 700 staff across the South West.


The plan for 2020 had been to celebrate the group’s 250th anniversary in some style. However, fate and circumstances dictated otherwise as CEO David Young says. “As the oldest builders’ merchant in the UK, we were poised to celebrate our 250th


birthday and build on a successful 2019 where we had achieved a record turnover across our network of 44 branches and eCommerce business.


“Although 2020 may not be the year that we all hoped it would be, I know that it won’t be too long until we can all look back on this period and add COVID-19 to the long list of historical challenges that Bradfords has made it through.”


Keeping open during COVID-19 Bradfords remained open throughout the UK lockdown, challenging though that was, he says. “We had already put in place many of the PHE recommendations for preventing the spread of Covid-19 before lockdown was announced on 23rd March. When the situation escalated and the lockdown was announced, we made the decision to change our whole operational structure overnight, and within less than 24 hours we became a collection


and delivery business only. With that came the introduction of a whole host of further essential measures to keep our employees and customers safe, such as kerbside drops and pre-booked collection slots only.


“We understood the importance of staying open to serve essential public services, partners who look after vulnerable communities, self- employed tradespeople and our 740 employees across the southwest who rely on their incomes to support their families.


“As a result we were able to keep our workforce safe and employed on full pay, and support core customers through this crisis by providing a much-needed service, supporting hospitals, care homes, NHS Trusts,


22


www.buildersmerchantsjournal.net August 2020


YEARS


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