BMF confirms merchants can open in second lockdown

Builders and plumbers merchants are essential to the wellbeing of the economy and, as such, can remain open during lockdowns, the Construction Leadership Council has confirmed.

Plumbers and builders are encouraged to continue working and, therefore, so are the merchants who supply them. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the current lockdown, and an emergency meeting of the Construction Leadership Council, the BMF issued a letter from the CLC confirming the importance of the building materials supply industry remaining open to support builders and contractors and help keep the economy going, for now and for the future recovery.

The letter confirmed that the Prime Minister has explicitly said that construction and manufacturing should continue. The latest Government guidance has reiterated this, and that workers in these industries should continue to travel to work and attend their workplace, including where this involves working in other people’s homes.

Lead roofing cartel firms fined £9.2m

The Competitions and Markets Authority has fined two of the UK’s largest suppliers of rolled lead to the roofing market a total of £9.2m for breaking competi- tion law.

Following an investigation into suspected cartel conduct, the CMA found that Associated Lead Mills Ltd (ALM) and H.J. Enthoven Ltd (trading as BLM British Lead), had broken the law by entering into anticompetitive arrange- ments. Both firms admitted their roles in the illegal cartel earlier this year and now face fines of £1.5m and £8m respectively.

Previously, it was found that

a third company, Calder Indus- trial Materials Ltd, had become involved at a later stage in one of the arrangements, but the CMA has now determined that there are no grounds for action and the investigation into this company has closed.

The four anticompetitive ar- rangements took place between October 2015 and April 2017 and included price collusion, arranging not to target certain customers,and not to supply a new business because it risked disrupting the firms’ existing

customer relationships. Each arrangement also included the ex- change of commercially sensitive information. Michael Grenfell, Executive Direc- tor of Enforcement at the CMA, said: “These companies know- ingly entered into illegal arrange- ments restricting competition between them.

“The CMA does not tolerate such behaviour. Construction is a sector firmly under our spotlight and if businesses break the law by entering into anticompetitive arrangements, they run the risk of large fines.”

Travis Perkins sees Q3 sales grow

Travis Perkins saw like-for-like sales grow 3.9% in Q3 with domestic demand leading the way ahead of commercial construction.

Nick Roberts, Chief Executive, reported “a strong recovery in demand” from the RMI market, which specifically benefits the Travis Perkins, City Plumbing, Wickes and Toolstation businesses. “Whilst local trade activity has recovered well, our trade businesses continue to experience a lag in recovery from larger housebuilding and construction projects. However, there are signs of increasing workflow across these sectors as underlying demand strengthens as businesses have adapted to new and safe ways of working that enable them to keep sites open during periods of local lockdown. During the quarter, we

Covers opens doors to local MP

Covers Timber and Builders Merchants in Burgess Hill welcomed Mid Sussex MP and Minister for Employment, Mims Davies, for a tour of its depot on Friday 9 October.

The tour was conducted by Covers’ managing director Henry Green, the depot manager of Burgess Hill, Terry Lace, and timber director, Neil Woods.

Green said: “It was a pleasure welcoming Mims to our Burgess Hill depot. We were pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate how we have adapted


to the new working conditions with Covid secure premises. We also highlighted the strength of Covers as an independent family-owned business during the pandemic”. Davies said: “It was fantastic to visit Covers in Burgess Hill to see all the adaptations it has put in place to continue to trade safely. It has been incredibly difficult for businesses to operate and plan this year with the ongoing challenges of Covid. It was great to see Covers delivering superb products and services to customers at near pre pandemic levels.”

have made further progress in strengthening the core of our trade businesses, in addition to completing the disposal of Tile Giant.”

During July, volumes picked up strongly with the easing of the lockdown, while trading in August was modestly softer, mainly thanks to the protracted holiday season, before then picking up again in September in line with schools reopening and many trades returning to a more normal work schedule. Across the Merchant and Plumbing & Heating segments, the branch closures announced in mid- June were significant drivers of the reduction in total sales, however, the group reports that its businesses have “successfully migrated” a significant proportion of sales to nearby branches.

Ibstock reopens Laybrook facility

Brick maker Ibstock has restarted production at its Laybrook facility in West Sussex, following a significant investment programme.

Laybrook reopened at the end of September, having received a multi- million pound investment to ensure it is well placed to meet increasing demand for bricks from across the construction supply chain. Laybrook is centrally located in the largest region for brick usage in the country. The investment made to the factory

has enabled Ibstock to scale-up brick production capacity as well as make improvements in production efficiencies and quality.

Joe Hudson, CEO at Ibstock Plc, said: “Ibstock remains committed to continued investment in British manufacturing and our recent work at Laybrook is further testament to that.” November 2020

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