his issue of BMJ is rather a special one. I know, like one’s children, they are all special, however to be celebrating 100 years of publishing is quite something.

The timing could have been better of course, as we appear to be hitting that milestone just at the point where the UK is in recession. Had we achieved our centuary when we were not in a pandemic/lockdown situation, when we had a full complement of staff, when our manufacturer and merchant readers were also at full strength, we would probably have made more of a song and dance about it.

BMJ, though, has seen its fair share of recessions and dips, busts and booms and even a Great Depression in those 100 years. When we launched it was in 1920, on the back of a huge post World War One boom which then turned to bust as our manufacturing base, hard-hit by the four years of war, failed to keep up. UK goods became uncompetitive around the world, cheaper alternatives were available and, boom, a post-War slump. That was followed by the Great Depression after the 1929 Wall Street Crash, a situation that in the UK, only started to improve when the economy came off the Gold Standard and cheap money boosted both industry and, crucially for this sector, house-building. Hurrah.

The post World War Two boom of the late 1950s and 1960s - “You’ve never had it so good” - couldn’t last, of course, and thus, BMJ has also lived through the three-day week, miners’ strikes, oil-prices going through the roof and inflation of 26% under Edward Heath and, indeed, Margaret Thatcher, plus the negative equity and house-repossesion fall-out from Nigel Lawsons’ property-frenzy of the late 1980s, Black Monday and double-digit interest rates. Then we saw the recession which began between the 2007 collapse of Northern Rock and that of Lehmann


Builders Merchants Journal Datateam Business Media London Road Maidstone Kent ME15 8LY Tel: 01622 687031

EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief: Fiona Russell Horne 01622 699101 07721 841382

Assistant editor Catrin Jones 01622 699186

Production Controller: Kirsty Hood

ADVERTISING Publication Manager: Dawn Tucker 01622 699148

mobile 07934 731232

Senior Account Manager: Burim Osmani 01622 699174

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North & midlands sales: David Harman 01772 462596

Publisher: Paul Ryder CIRCULATION

ABC audited average circulation July 2018-June 2019: 7,801


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

© Datateam Business Media Ltd 2020. 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.

Brothers in September 2008, the global financial crash which cleared out so much of the construction industry that it really only got going again in 2013- 14. Just in time for Brexit uncertainty and the Covid-19 pandemic to do its worst. Through all this, BMJ has strived to reflect and report on the industry and the events of the wider world that affect it. We’re not a campaigning journal, with a remit to hunt out corruption or wrong-doing in the industry, we’re not the Sunday Times Insight team. Instead, we try to ensure that everything we write or publish bears in mind the question: “how can this piece of information help builders’ (and plumbers’, timber and decorators’) merchants be better merchants? And by better, we mean ‘more efficient, more productive, more competitive and, yes, more profitable’.

The industry has changed hugely in the years we’ve been doing this and we’ve changed along with it. In 1920, as a married woman of a certain age with children, I probably would not have been let anywhere near the BMJ office, let alone be running it. Even in the early 1990s, I was often one of only a handful of women in a room at events. Happily, the magazine and the sector are now more reflective of the diverse world we operate in.

Looking back over the archives, it’s clear that whole much has changed – I can’t believe we ever thought some of the adverts and editorial comment were OK to publish – what has remained is the commitment of the people working in merchanting, manufacturing and distribution to do the very best they can, to be the very best in their chosen fields. It makes me happy to think we are able to share that commitment and bring it to a wider audience. Happy Birthday to us. Fiona Russell-Horne Editor-in-Chief - BMJ


The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.

LP Hartley

CONTENTS 4 The Month

What’s been going on this month 6 News Extra

The draft Building Safety Bill and the Green Homes Grant

10 People Who’s now working where?

11 Business Helpdesk E-commerce is more important than ever and so, as a consequence, is cyber-security.

12 100 years:

BMJ 100th ANNIVERSARY Builders Merchants Journal has been at the forefront of publishing to the merchant industry for 100 years. We rifled through some of our back issues to see what the industry looked like in the past. Bradfords was already 130 years old when BMJ launched. MD David Young talked to BMJ about the past, present and future. Howarth Timber and Building Supplies tells BMJ how they have met the various challenges during their 180 years.

26 Company Focus SIG has a new leadership team and has re-thought its approaches to the market.

28 Timber

Oppportunities for the sector. 31 Viewpoint

Is e-commerce the way forward? 32 IT

Investment in e-Commerce has continued apace.

36 BMF Industry Voice The news from the BMF

38 Legislation A look at the implications of BS7903:2020.

39 Product News News on product innovations

42 And Finally News and the crossword

August 2020 3

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