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PROFESSIONAL

BUILDERS MERCHANT THE No.1 BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR MERCHANTS

JULY/AUGUST 2021

Merchant sector sales & confidence

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY The drive for data

PLUMBING & HEATING The future for low carbon heating

TRANSPORT, HANDLING & STORAGE On the road again

Plus: News, selling electrical, training, acquisitions, industry comment and more.

Fantasy Football We go again! See page 67

www.professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk


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CONTENTS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY 36

THE MODERN CATALOGUE How to leverage product data more effectively through ERP.

38

STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE The Independent Builders’ Merchant Group outlines the need for an ERP system that offers flexibility and function for multi-branch operations.

41

CUSTOMER SERVICE The benefits of efficient IT systems, as experienced by your trade customers.

43

IT ROUND-UP

July/August 2021, Volume 31 No. 7

38

PLUMBING & HEATING 45

STATE OF FLUX The debate ranges on the direction of travel for low carbon heating.

48

INDEX LINKED The latest data from the Plumbing & Heating Merchants Index.

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STAY ON TARGET Solutions to improve water usage efficiency.

52

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

SPECIAL REPORTS 10

THE PULSE Tracking confidence, concerns and prospects in the merchant sector.

10

TRANSPORT, HANDLING & STORAGE 55

DRIVING FORWARD With sales currently surging, many merchant businesses have invested in upgrades to their vehicle fleets.

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ONE VISION Elliotts is now ‘exclusively IVECO’ following the introduction of six new Daily trucks earlier in the year.

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PRODUCTS & SERVICES

REGULARS 5

VIEWPOINT

6

NEWS

8

MARKET MONITOR

12

BMF TRAINING ZONE

17

FACE TO FACE

18

PEOPLE NEWS

31

MERCHANT FOCUS

62

MARKETING SUPPORT

64

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

66

ADVERTISEMENT INDEX

67

FANTASY FOOTBALL

www.professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk

14

TIME TO PLUG ELECTRICALS As buying patterns change, fresh revenue opportunities are becoming available for merchants.

20

WHAT’S IN A NAME? Norbord has recently become part of the West Fraser Group. PBM outlines what this means for merchants.

32

ONLINE AND ON TRACK Digital-only merchant CMOStores.com shares its perspectives on the recent growth in e-commerce.

ADVERTORIAL SUPPLEMENT 23

PBM puts Senco into the spotlight.

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VIEWPOINT

Data centre

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peaking at the virtually-held BMF Digital & Technology Forum back in mid-May, eCommonSense’s Andy Scothern repeated the stark message that, with an estimated 23% of building materials sales, merchants now “have a declining share of a growing market”. As the construction and wider building & RMI sectors continue to lead the charge of the nation’s post-pandemic recovery, it is yet another reminder that the world is a different place… There are a number of reasons why the merchant sector finds itself in this position, not all of which are related to the rise in ecommerce. But the dangers of digital disintermediation have been put into the spotlight by the longer term changes in customer behaviour which themselves have been compounded by coronavirus trading conditions. Of course, ecommerce is not a new concept for a great many merchant business — witness the testimony of Grant & Stone’s Darren House at the BMF event, highlighting the sustained success of the merchant’s Trading Depot online platform over a number of years. However, Andy’s message is that “having watched the parade go by for too long” with digital, the sector is now at a crossroads. Tech giants such as Amazon are already making significant inroads into the sector, including approaching and indeed working with key suppliers, whilst trade customers now increasingly see online purchasing — and access to information — as vital for their jobs. As carpentry and construction business owner Ryan Caws told us for one of the articles

PROFESSIONAL

BUILDERS MERCHANT THE No.1 BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR MERCHANTS

JULY/AUGUST 2021

Merchant sector sales & confidence

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY The drive for data

PLUMBING & HEATING The future for low carbon heating

TRANSPORT, HANDLING & STORAGE On the road again

Plus: News, selling electrical, training, acquisitions, industry comment and more.

Fantasy Football We go again! See page 67

in our IT feature later in the issue: “This past year has really made my priorities change. I cannot have my guys driving around, back and forth between merchants looking for bags of cement anymore. I need to be able to go online, see that what I need is in stock, and place an order for collection there and then. “I just don’t have time to be calling around asking for copy invoices or making payments. I’m often working late into the evening, and so being able to access my account online to look up prices, place orders (and) arrange collections is essential so that we can get a running start the next day.” In a construction boom, busy tradespeople are not simply going to return to old habits that will now cost them precious time and money. Echoing Ryan’s comments, a key theme of the BMF webinar was the importance of data. Whilst transactional websites are a necessity, they can only be as effective as the information they contain. Detailed product descriptions

and imagery can help to secure a sale at the front end, whilst effective data management will help to increase the efficiencies of your back office operations. Fully integrated IT systems, collaboration with suppliers and initiatives such as NMBS OnePlace and the BMF-led ETIM project as referenced in the seminar will see the dial move even further. Clearly, so much more can be said on the subject but a final point is that an improved digital presence will also enhance offline operations. For instance, during the session Andy noted that there was a “huge spike” in account applications made online at the start of the pandemic — and these have ultimately helped to drive significant new custom to the physical branch itself.

BRYAN SHANNON It is with much sadness that we announce the recent passing of our publisher, Bryan Shannon. In a career spanning more than 50 years, it’s no exaggeration to say that Bryan helped change the established order of trade magazine publishing in the UK. His visionary ideas on distribution — utilising the trade counters of leading merchants and wholesalers — plus a commitment to editorial excellence and market-leading circulations quickly established the Professional series of titles as essential reading for thousands of hands-on tradespeople. As well as considerable magazine success, Bryan’s other great legacy is the wonderful opportunities afforded to legions of budding journalists and advertising sales representatives to cut their teeth at Hamerville Media Group, many of whom have subsequently gone on to run their own successful businesses within the sector The iconic cockerel figurehead which he chose to reflect the importance of ‘being up first with the news’ will continue to have much to crow about in the years to come.

Editor Paul Davies Assistant Editor Abbie Smith Group Advertisement Manager Craig Jowsey craig@hamerville.co.uk Tel: 07900 248102 Advertisement Manager Sam Shannon-Tinsley stinsley@hamerville.co.uk Tel: 07554 013302 Midlands & Northern Advertisement Manager

www.professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk

www.professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk

Ian Duff Tel: 01204 596633/ 07810 353525 probuilder@sky.com Design Adeel Qadri Group Production Manager Carol Padgett Production Assistant Kerri Smith Circulation Manager Kirstie Day Managing Editor Terry Smith

Subscriptions to PROFESSIONAL BUILDERS MERCHANT are available at the following rates: UK – 1 year (11 issues) – £30 post paid EUROPE and OVERSEAS 1 year (11 issues) – £50 post paid AIRMAIL – 1 year (11 issues) – £65 post paid

Printed by Walstead Peterborough Published by HAMERVILLE MEDIA GROUP Regal House, Regal Way, Watford, Herts WD24 4YF. Tel: (01923) 237799 Fax: (01923) 246901 Email: pbm@hamerville.co.uk Copyright © 2021

Average Net Circulation figure for the 11 issues distributed between 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 = 9,912 To be removed from this magazine’s circulation please call 01923 237799 or email circulation@hamerville.co.uk

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NEWS UPDATE BRICKABILITY GROUP PLC ANNOUNCES PROPOSED ACQUISITION OF TAYLOR MAXWELL

Joined-up thinking Career boost The Apprenticeship Management Group and the Builders Merchants Federation have teamed up to launch a new level three apprenticeship. The new Level 3 Team Leader Supervisor apprenticeship has been designed to support those taking the initial step to becoming a manager, or who have recently been appointed to a junior management role, and will see the apprentice take on extra responsibilities such as project management or leading a team of other employees. The Gloucestershire-based apprenticeship company run the BMF’s Apprenticeship Plus programme and the course, with the demands of a busy work life in mind, will be delivered virtually through tutor-led classes and workplace-learning with all resources available online. The apprenticeship is only available in England and the course fee may be covered by the Apprenticeship Levy or Government Apprenticeship Funds. For more information, email info@theapprenticeshipgroup.co.uk

Construction materials distributor Brickability Group plc has announced the conditional acquisition of Taylor Maxwell Group, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of timber and non-combustible cladding, for a consideration of up to £63 million. John Richards, Chairman of Brickability, stated that the acquisition of Taylor Maxwell will bolster Brickability’s “leading position in UK brick distribution (whilst) offering cost and revenue synergies” and being “transformational in terms of the group’s scale and relevance in the wider materials supply industry.” A company statement reports that the acquisition is expected to “put the Group on track to reach £500million of annual revenues in the near term” by broadening its product offering and its “market position in key products (which) provides an opportunity for future organic growth”. Furthermore, the Group “believes there are margin enhancement opportunities available within Taylor Maxwell, with a focus on imports and the Repairs Maintenance & Improvement (RMI) industry”. Noting that the acquisition of Taylor Maxwell is the 11th strategically significant acquisition made by Brickability since 2018, John said: “As Brickability continues to grow, this acquisition marks a significant expansion in the range of solutions we can deliver for our growing client base and represents a significant value-add for our Shareholders.” Supplying a select range of building materials to housebuilders and contractors, the Group which Brickability now heads was

founded in 1984 in South Wales and has since grown organically and through acquisitions to have a nationwide presence, with 25 sites and sales offices throughout the UK and currently employs approximately 285 people. Taylor Maxwell, meanwhile, can trace its origins back to 1959 and the business established by R. Taylor and Eric Mclean Maxwell. Headquartered in Clifton, the company reports “key relationships” with global manufacturers, and holds supply chain agreements with building contractors, developers, architects and also merchants. Operating from 16 office and showroom locations across the UK and with a product range covering brick, timber, non-combustible cladding, flooring, masonry, decking, offsite solutions and engineered wood, key customers are said to include Vistry Group, Lovell Homes, Bloor Homes, MKM Building Supplies and AVS Fencing and Landscaping Supplies.

RDT outlines industry support Despite the ongoing recovery in the construction sector following the challenges of Covid-19, the Rainy Day Trust wants to draw attention to those in the industry who may be struggling financially, especially as a consequence of factors such as the ban on evictions recently being lifted following a pause during the pandemic. RDT CEO Bryan Clover is appealing to company bosses to promote the industry charity’s free debt advice programme to staff. He said: “It could be that someone who works for you is affected by this and is terrified at the prospect of losing their home. The Rainy Day Trust can not only help with clearing rent arrears, but also put other measures in place to help them increase their income and

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reduce debt overall. Asking for help is not a failure; it shows the strength needed to tackle a difficult problem. “Working with us demonstrates to staff that you have their wellbeing at heart and aids staff retention. Please encourage anyone with worries to get in touch via 0800 915 4627. We have Debt Advice and Counselling leaflets which we can share with you to print out. They’re the perfect adornment for the back of a toilet door, a canteen, a staff rest room or anywhere else that people can see them.” Stewart Shaw, MD of Cowall Building Supplies and a supporter of the Rainy Day Trust, has ensured his staff know all about the help offered to them if they wish it. He explained: “We’re such strong advocates of the RDT

because without happy, healthy staff we’ve not got a business. The fact that the RDT offers our staff and everyone else’s staff help in times of need, and that it’s all done in confidence, is why we feel it’s such a worthy charity to support.” For more information on how the Rainy Day Trust can help, or if you can help the RDT, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md001

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TEL: 01923 237799

EMAIL: PBM@HAMERVILLE.CO.UK

a @PBMmagazine

TTF STATES VOLUME OF TIMBER IMPORTS IN Q1 THE HIGHEST SINCE 2007

Huge demand for timber According to the latest statistics from the Timber Trade Federation, the volume of timber and panel products imported in the first quarter of 2021 was at its highest in more than a decade, stretching back to Q1 2007. In fact, Q1 2021 solid timber and panel product import volumes were 23% higher than Q1 2020, nearing almost 3 million m3 in comparison to last year’s 2,396,000m3. This makes Q1 2021 have the highest volume of imports since Q1 2007 (3,021,000m3), and the third consecutive quarter of record volumes, following Q3 (2,698,000m3) and Q4 (3,123,000m3) 2020. Based on the strength of demand seen in 2021, it is estimated that the total volume of imports in Q2 2021 could reach 3,300,000m3 and rival the second quarter of 2007 (3,371,000m3). With demand so strong that even record imports cannot satisfy it, the TTF

believes supply is likely to continue to tighten — particularly with Swedish mill stocks the lowest for 20 years — having previously warned that these low stock levels will mean the balance between supply and demand is likely to further tighten this summer. David Hopkins, CEO of the TTF, said: “These statistics underline that the market is continuing to import unprecedented levels of volume amidst record demand for timber and panel products. Since the release of our Market Statement in May, recent reports from our members and the CPA indicate that demand remains strong which will keep supply tight throughout 2021. “All users of timber must work closely with suppliers on their purchasing strategies, and to take a forward-looking perspective as timber is likely to remain on allocation.”

Beaconsfield upgrade Work has begun on the major redevelopment of Lords Builders Merchants’ Beaconsfield branch to “bring an exciting range of new services and improved customers facilities”. Work began in June with old trade counter and sheds being replaced with a two-storey shop/showroom and warehouse. With the new store comes a wider product range as well as additional trade services including a landscaping display area and brick library in addition to an extensive decorating centre and an HSS Hire counter. The improved customer experience will also include an extended parking area for cars and larger vans. Established in 1985 as a family-owned business, Lords now has nine branches across west London and the Home Counties with plans for additional expansion said to be in place.

Network expansion Ex-Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion striker, and local philanthropist Geoff Horsfield was the special guest for the grand opening of MKM Building Supplies’ new state-of-the-art Birmingham North branch. Taking the expanding independent merchant’s branch network up to 84, the company invited the football legend to officially open the doors of the new depot and, to highlight MKM’s commitment to the local community, has pledged its support to The Geoff Horsfield Foundation — a charity that prides itself on providing quality, safe and secure housing accommodation for homeless and vulnerable adults in and around Birmingham.

200 up for IPG Said to be the largest and fastest growing membership group for plumbing, heating and bathroom specialists, The IPG has welcomed its 200th Member — Thompson & Leigh. The group also reports that increasing numbers of its membership are adopting ‘dual-branded’ signage to gain maximum benefit from The IPG’s additional marketing support services, with D.R Peel the latest to adopt the dual-branding.


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MARKET MONITOR in association with

Great expectations The latest UK Construction Purchasing Managers Index from IHS Markit / CIPS shows that construction activity is increasing at the fastest rate since the survey began in April 1997 — however, there are growing concerns about supply issues and price rises.

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ay PMI data indicated that the UK construction sector remained on a strong recovery path, with output growth reaching its strongest since September 2014. Moreover, new order volumes increased at the fastest pace since the survey began just over 24 years ago. However, input cost inflation was also at a survey-record high during May, reflecting a surge in demand for construction materials and severe supply shortages. At 64.2 in May, up from 61.6 in April, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit / CIPS UK Construction PMI Total Activity Index registered above the 50.0 no-change value for the fourth consecutive month and signalled the strongest rate of output growth for just under seven years. House building (index at 66.3) was the best-performing category of construction activity in May, followed by commercial work (64.4). Civil engineering activity (index at 61.3) also increased sharply during May, and indeed across the construction sector, around 47% of the survey panel reported higher volumes of new work while only 11% signalled a reduction. Accordingly, the rate of job creation was the fastest since July 2014 with sub-contractor usage again increasing at a survey-record pace.

The latest data indicated a steep upturn in purchasing activity across the construction sector. Some firms noted that input buying had been boosted by efforts to build inventories in response to supply shortages, whilst suppliers’ delivery times lengthened sharply in May with “the downturn in vendor performance” the second-steepest since the survey began (exceeded only by that seen in April 2020).

“Cost and supply issues notwithstanding, construction companies remain highly upbeat about their growth prospects for the next 12 months.” Stretched supply chains and steep rises in raw material prices were said to have contributed to “a rapid increase in average cost burdens” with the overall rate of input price inflation “the highest in just over 24 years of data collection.” Cost and supply issues notwithstanding, construction companies “remain highly upbeat about their growth prospects for the next 12 months” with around 61% of the survey panel predicting a rise in business activity and positive sentiment mostly attributed to “resurgent customer

demand alongside optimism about the UK economic outlook following the successful vaccine roll out.” Outlining a word of caution, Tim Moore, Economics Director at IHS Markit which compiles the survey, said: “There were widespread reports citing shortages of construction materials and wait times from suppliers lengthened considerably in comparison to those seen during April. Imbalanced supply and demand led to survey-record increases in both purchasing prices and rates charged by sub-contractors.” Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, added: “Rising material prices are continuing to limit the ability of local builders to build back better from the pandemic. It’s incredibly worrying to hear that the overall rate of input price inflation was the highest on record. “This is consistent with FMB State of Trade data that shows 93% of builders reported material price increases in Q1 of this year. Against the backdrop of high levels of inquiries for building work, it’s imperative that smaller businesses have the same access to materials as the larger firms during these difficult times.” ■ For more information, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md002


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Supply shortages growing concern for merchants Reflecting a number of news reports in the national press and on the BBC, the latest instalment of The Pulse revealed that supply issues are becoming a growing issue for the merchant sector.

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onfidence in the market and sales expectations in May compared to April remained strong. However, merchants’ concerns have shifted from Brexit, Covid and Lockdowns to supply shortages, which are worsening. The Pulse, by MRA Research, is a monthly tracking survey of merchants’ confidence and prospects. Telephone interviewing took place between 5th and 10th May 2021.

Sales expectations Sales expectations eased in May, with a net +38% of merchants forecasting improved sales compared to the previous month — Chart 2. Merchants in Scotland (net +56%) and in the North (+52%) have the strongest expectations. Of those predicting improved sales in May, 80% of merchants forecasted an increase of up to 20% compared to April.

Materials supply Eight out of ten merchants say ‘All’ or ‘Most’ of their suppliers are currently able to supply them. However, the number of merchants saying ‘All’ reduced notably in May. As one merchant confirmed: “We can get supplies, but it’s the lack of quantity that is the problem.” Merchants were then asked on a scale of 1=Not At All to 7=Very Badly, to what extent has their business and customers been affected by supply problems. The average score has increased from 3.89 in March to 4.43 in May. With demand outstripping supply, merchants are starting to feel the affects — Chart 1.

Year-on-year, sales expectations edged up to the highest since the survey began, with a net +85% of merchants anticipating better sales — also Chart 2. More Regional and National merchants (+89% and +86% respectively), forecasted an increase in sales than Independent outlets (+69%). The difference between the percentage of merchants expecting growth and those expecting a decrease is the net figure, expressed as a percentage. A positive net percentage indicates growth, a negative indicates decline. Net zero implies no change.

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TRENDS MONITOR Seven out of ten merchants expecting to sell more, predicted growth of over 20% — Chart 3.

Confidence in the market A net +28% of merchants were more confident in May than in April, although confidence has eased slightly from the previous month’s survey. Those in Scotland (+44%), Nationals (+41%) and small outlets (+39%) were most confident. However, merchants’ confidence in the market for May compared to the same month last year remained extremely high (net +72%) — Chart 5. Nationals (+95%) were much more bullish than Regional outlets (+57%). Confidence in their business Merchants’ confidence in the prospects for their own business moderated slightly but remained strong in May compared to April (net +53%). Merchants in the Midlands and in Scotland (+44%) were more cautious than those in the South (+61%) and North (+57%). For the third month in a row, merchants’ year-on-year confidence in their own business rose to the highest level recorded, with a net +86% more confident — also Chart 5.

Sales expectations for the next three months (May to July) are moderating but remain strong, with a net +48% of merchants forecasting improved sales. More Independent merchants (+63%) expect higher sales than Regionals (+40%). Small outlets (net +61%) are notably more positive than mid-sized branches (+38%). Sales expectations for the next six months (May to October) are also easing, with a net +47% of merchants anticipating growth. This compared to +60% in the previous survey — Chart 4. Those in Scotland (+63%) are markedly more positive than those in the Midlands (+28%). Almost a quarter of those forecasting improved sales in the next six months predict growth of over 20%. Seven in ten merchants expect growth of up to 20%. The Pulse is a monthly trends survey tracking builders’ merchants’ confidence and prospects over time. Produced by MRA Research, the insight division of MRA Marketing, it captures merchants’ views of future prospects in terms of sales expectations, confidence in their business, confidence in the market, and the key issues and problems they experience. This report is the 25th in the series, with interviews conducted by MRA Research between 5th and 10th May 2021. Each month a representative sample of 100 merchants is interviewed. The sample is balanced by region, size and type of merchant, including nationals, regional multi-branch independents, and smaller independent merchants.

■ The full report can be downloaded for free from www.mra-research.co.uk/the-pulse or call Ralph Sutcliffe at MRA Research on 01453 521621.

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TRAINING ZONE

Championing the Zero Carbon agenda Earlier this year, the Construction Leadership Council launched CO2nstruct Zero — a cross industry change programme to drive carbon out of all parts of the construction supply chain by 2050. From manufacturing and design to construction and operation of assets, the programme sets out how the industry can together meet the Net Zero challenge.

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uilders’ merchants and building materials manufacturers have a vital role to play in championing and delivering the changes necessary for success and four of the first 14 zero carbon Business Champions are BMF members — ACO Technologies, APP Wholesale, Bradfords Building Supplies and Travis Perkins Group have each committed to reducing the environmental impact of their operations and supporting others with their low carbon plans. Of the CO2nstruct Zero programme’s nine priority areas, five are particularly relevant here: ● Accelerating the shift to zero emission

vehicles; ● Working with Government to deliver

retrofitting to improve the energy efficiency of existing housing stock; ● Scaling up industry capability to deliver low carbon heat solutions in buildings, supporting heat pump deployment, trials of hydrogen heating systems and heat networks; ● Supporting the development of innovative low carbon materials (in particular concrete and steel) as well as advancing low carbon solutions for manufacturing processes and distribution; ● Improved onsite logistics, reducing waste and transport to sites. Three priority areas are the focus for Travis Perkins Group, as Head of Sustainability Megan Adlen explains: “With a large vehicle fleet of our own we need to work collaboratively with industry peers, vehicle

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manufacturers and the Government to ensure we can decarbonise our fleet. “A second focus is working with Government to improve the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock. As a leading supplier, the retrofitting of the existing housing stock provides a great opportunity for the business and our customers to support the decarbonisation agenda. “Our third area is supporting the development of low carbon materials and manufacturing solutions, which our customers are increasingly looking for.” Bradfords Building Supplies is also looking to work with government to deliver the national retrofit strategy. Giles Bradford, Communications & Engagement Manager, said: “Our close relationship with our trade customers and the RMI sector means we are well positioned to help reduce energy consumption through the whole life of the building and we are listening to our communities to understand the baseline. Our sustainable homes centre in Glastonbury forms a focal point for conversations around sustainable living and achieving net zero in the built environment.” Bradfords is also working on the logistics and waste aspects of construction with suppliers, customers and within their own estate and deliveries, as well as preparing for electric vehicles (EV). Matthew Pierce of APP Wholesale, which supplies heating and hot water products, acknowledges the firm is at the start of a long journey to reduce its impact. He said: “We are

ultimately a ‘just in time’ distribution company and run a fleet of vehicles to support our customers with their needs. Utilising technology we aim to give our customers not only a better service but also become leaner and save cost to reduce carbon. “The circular opportunities for the appliances we sell, when they come to the end of their life, are another priority and we are implementing schemes to collect material and fully recycle the product rather than it end up in landfill.” Finally, Peter Ridgeway, Brand Development Director at ACO says that the company is proud to be the first construction products manufacturer to be awarded BMF Business Champion status. He said: “This is recognition of the huge strides we have made in the last decade in focusing our efforts on sustainability, designing production processes and products to reduce embodied carbon as well as reducing transport and installation carbons. “We hope that this initiative will help to stimulate collaborative behaviours across supply chains and a cohesive mindset across all disciplines.” The BMF Members’ Day Conference in September will feature a dedicated section on the drive to Net Zero. Visit www.bmf.org/events to book your place. ■ For more information on the BMF Net Zero Business Champions, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md004


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NEW BUSINESS: ELECTRICALS

Time to plug electricals Rhys Phillips, Channel Manager at Knightsbridge, argues that buying patterns are changing and with them come fresh revenue opportunities for the merchant.

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tocking electrical items, be they wiring accessories or light fittings, is nothing new to the merchant sector and some would claim they’ve been doing it for years. But there’s reason to look afresh at this product group, if only to attempt to combat the challenge from the major online players and to satisfy the increasing influence of the focus on end-to-end supply that many builders and developers are pursuing. Builders are looking for efficiency, where administration is minimised and working time is maximised. Online purchasing and Click & Collect have helped deliver that. Hand in hand with that is just the sheer range of products that can be sourced at the click of a mouse, all either delivered or collected in one trip. This in turn helps schedules, and keeps projects and builds on track. No one can doubt the inroads that online has made into the market share of merchants, but the counter remains an important place of commerce for the trade. So why not try to take the online players on at their own game and offer products, such as electricals, that might increase the share of wallet? Furthermore, there are clear market trends that would support such an approach. Home improvements are on the up, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and associated

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lockdowns. And as more people have worked from home, saving money in the process, the emphasis on home improvements has grown — as is evident by Kingfisher’s share price, which in April 2021 reached its highest point since 2016. This refreshed love for our homes and living space is driving refurbishments and rewiring upgrades, spurring demand for electrical accessories and lighting products. Indeed, a survey of householders by the

HomeServe Foundation revealed electrical work is taking over a quarter of the budget (27%) allocated to home improvements by the British public, suggesting that there is a great opportunity for sales of electrical and lighting devices to flourish. That doesn’t mean having to become a fully-fledged electrical wholesaler. If one bears in mind that approximately 20% of types of product — such as sockets and switches — account for around 80% of sales,

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then simply stocking a range of core products is likely to increase the share of wallet for the merchant, with little downside and only a minimal footprint. In our experience, stocking a range of high-volume lines is the way to go. At Knightsbridge we have a ready-made turnkey solution to unlock this opportunity, which — in partnership with the merchant — can be tailored to each individual circumstance. This would encompass the above-mentioned switches and sockets in a variety of popular styles and finishes, as well as the more utilitarian items such as cooker connection units, pattress boxes, enclosures and terminal blocks. In other words, a comprehensive basket of products that a home or residence needs for a build or refurbishment. Another consideration is stocking one product that has many functions, such as the Knightsbridge range of BT CCT adjustable LED bulkheads. This ‘one product,

numerous solutions’ approach allows inventory to be kept to a minimum while offering the buyer a product that meets a variety of needs. Having decided on a stock profile, it really is incumbent on the branch to

merchandise the products as effectively as possible, though we can support with a recommended planogram as required. This means utilising a front-of-house approach and not letting stock sit in brown boxes back in the warehouse. Here, eye catching point-of-sale displays or countertop promotion is really important in achieving customer buy-in — if they can’t see it, they can’t buy it. It’s amazing what a well-stocked, well-presented POS unit can look like, and the format doesn’t have to take up a great deal of space either. In an era where the boundaries between merchants, wholesalers, depots and DIY stockists are becoming blurred, there’s no good reason not to expand your offering to include electricals. After all, your customer might thank you for it! ■ For more information on stocking Knightsbridge’s range of poducts, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md005


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FACE TO FACE

Since Resapol was formed in 1999, both national and independent builders’ merchants have been key customers to the business, so much so that the dedicated Merchant Support Team was set up in 2019. The firm has access to over 6,000 products from some of the world’s biggest manufacturers, providing merchants with “the best possible products across a variety of different sectors” with a range that spans waterproofing, concrete repair, sealants, adhesives, grouts, flooring and highway products. Its expert support team can offer practical advice on products and applications whilst through its network of eight depots nationwide, Resapol provides a two day pledge to ensure that products are delivered quickly and efficiently.

PBM speaks with Richard Lomas, Resapol’s Merchant Support Director.

Q A

How did you get into the industry and to your current position? I started many years ago, working for Hall & Co. My first job was on the yard, and I really didn’t know anything about the merchant world. I then worked my way around different merchants, working for Builder Depot and then a small independent. In 2005 I got the opportunity to move to London and started working for Resapol, progressing within the business and holding roles including Assistant Manager, Depot Manager and Regional Manager. As Resapol’s business went from strength to strength, dealing with a lot of merchants, it became very clear that we needed a dedicated centre to manage their needs. In 2019, Resapol’s Merchant Support Team was born, with me taking on the role of Merchant Support Director. To support the new division further, we also joined various buying groups and have worked hard to build a great team as well as the business.

Q

What has the particular impact of Covid-19 been on the business, and what (permanent?) changes have been implemented? Covid-19 has had such an impact for everyone, not just in business. Resapol handled the management of the pandemic in a planned and structured

A

way and coming out of it, Resapol is stronger than ever. Covid has shown us how we can work smarter — the main change has been our stock management, having implemented a new state of the art stock system, ensuring merchants receive materials in a timely fashion.

“The biggest challenge facing the merchant sector by far is raw materials and the supply of said materials.”

Q A

And what are the broader challenges facing the merchant sector? The biggest challenge by far is raw materials and the supply of said materials. Merchant sales are being been hampered by this, and not the weird and wonderful products but day to day materials, such as sand and cement. I also feel the industry has changed due to demands of the customer. For example, more and more contractors are starting to take on contracts that require specialist materials, such as structural waterproofing and complex concrete repair projects. This is where Resapol can

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help support the merchants; our extensive knowledge of these specialist materials means we can advise and supply the best products to meet these needs.

Q A

What has been the highlight of your career to date? The biggest highlight has to be when I was given the opportunity to take on the role as Merchant Support Director by our Co-founder Sean Ofsarnie, who had the confidence and faith in me to shape and build the merchant side of the business.

Q A

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? In the coming years, the Merchant Support Centre will grow from strength to strength — we are already looking at bigger premises for the business, employing new people to take on this exciting journey with us. Our main goal is to give merchants outstanding service, making sure that our customers, as well as the merchants’ own customers, are given the correct advice on the correct materials to use with whatever the project needs. ■ For more information on Resapol, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md006 and connect with Richard on LinkedIn via: www.rdr.link/md007

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PEOPLE NEWS

After a successful start to 2021 including the acquisition of Digby Stone, Global Stone has announced Reiss Digby as its new Group Supply Chain Director. Reiss takes on the role after working with the former family business for over 10 years, most latterly as Operations Director. Reiss said “I’m delighted to take on this new position, and believe that my experience from Digby Stone will benefit the whole Global Group, helping us to continue our expansion plans.” Keystone and IG Lintels has announced the appointment of Chris Hemmington-Green as its new Sales Director. With over 35 years’ experience in the building industry, beginning on the merchant side and moving to sales roles at a number of materials manufacturers, Chris spent 17 years at Velux where he progressed from an Area Sales Manager to Divisional Director. More recently, he spent the past 12 months managing the regional sales team at SIG. Lakes has welcomed Darren Bedford as its new National Sales Manager. He joins the existing team of Area Sales Managers and will focus on supporting them in growing relationships with merchant customers and helping them build sales of showering spaces. With almost 20 years of experience in the industry, Darren said: “There are fantastic opportunities for us to grow sales even further through our merchant network and by helping them to embrace the additional scope in a post-lockdown world through Lakes Online Showrooms, together we can achieve great things.” The IPG has welcomed Gary Matthews as Commercial Director. He joins the membership group following a progressive career across 30 years in the building materials sector and will be responsible for engaging suppliers, supporting members’ needs and contributing to the next chapter in The IPG’s growth plans. Previously, Gary has worked with a variety of brands such as Mira, Honeywell, Grohe and Ideal Standard. In addition, he has wide experience of the independent P&H/KBB sectors with a real passion for supporting these businesses.

Having joined Sika in 1992, Tom Forsyth has been appointed as the company’s General Manager. The promotion follows on from a number of roles across the business which included, in 2018, assuming additional responsibilities for managing the Everbuild brand and playing a key role in establishing this area of the business as a substantial part of Sika Limited. His new post will see him build on the continued growth of the company across its multiple UK markets.

Leanne Layne and Jasmine Jobe have joined the Azpects support team. Managing Director Paul Taylor said: “We are focussed on ensuring customer satisfaction, keeping our promises and giving our customers the support they require during what is already proving a very busy year. Our new recruits will enable us to continue giving the best level of service to our customers as the season progresses.”

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SPECIAL REPORT: NORBORD ACQUISITION

What’s in a name? As one of the UK’s leading engineered wood panel manufacturers, Norbord was behind a number of popular board products for flooring, panelling and roofing. Having recently become part of the West Fraser group, the Norbord name is being phased out — however its well-known brands such as SterlingOSB Zero, CaberBoard, CaberFloor and CaberWood MDF will remain. PBM recently spoke with Marketing Manager David Connacher to discuss the change and outline what it means for merchants.

Q A

Please tell us some more about West Fraser? West Fraser is a diversified wood products company with more than 60 facilities in Canada, the United States and Europe. The business was founded in 1955 when three brothers — Sam, Bill and Pete Ketcham — pooled their resources to buy a small planing mill in Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada. From responsibly-sourced and sustainably-managed forest resources, it produces timber, engineered wood (OSB, LVL, MDF, plywood, particleboard) and other products including pulp, newsprint, wood chips and renewable energy with its solutions used in construction, RMI, industrial applications, papers, tissue and box materials.

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Q A

Why was the acquisition a good thing for the two businesses? The two companies are much aligned and share many common values, including a commitment to safety, efficient manufacturing facilities, a focus on continuous improvement and teamwork, as well as manufacturing sustainable products that are essential for a low-carbon economy. Product development and efficient supply chains will also be at the crux of the new organisation due to the merging of experienced teams.

Q A

So, other than the phasing out of the Norbord name, what has changed for your customers? Norbord Europe now becomes the European arm of West Fraser following the acquisition, but the people are the same, the products are the same, the plants are the same — even the telephone number and all the mobile numbers of contacts have not changed. There is a new name for website —

www.uk.westfraser.com — but the existing brands are market-leading and hugely successful; they are well known and have been part of the UK business landscape for years, if not decades. They will remain as they are the company’s stock-in-trade — literally.

Q A

What about the specific impact for the merchant sector? There will be no change to our supply network and I don’t believe our merchant customers will see any tangible changes as the product brands that their customer base asks for and uses will remain

— we will continue to supply the market-leading products that we always have. Over time, the Norbord name will be phased out and replaced with West Fraser. So, regarding a changeover from one brand to the next and on the different collateral we have utilised over the years, we will work with our merchant partners to agree on what the best way to do this would be. I would like it to be a collaborative approach and get confirmation on what our merchant partners feel works well, what their staff and customers see value in and what could be improved to get to a better customer experience. The easier we make it for the customer at the point of purchase to select the correct product for the intended application, the better is for customer understanding and repeat purchases at the merchant. ■ For more information on West Fraser, the new name for Nobord Europe, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md008


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PROFESSIONAL

BUILDERS

MERCHANT ADVERTORIAL SUPPLEMENT

JULY/AUGUST 2021

Tools and fasteners to make hard work easier

www.senco.eu


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ADVERTORIAL SUPPLEMENT

“Senco? How had I missed this brand? Been using this nail gun for weeks and it’s the proper job. Very happy with my choice.” Iain Kent SGT90i – 90mm Framing Gas Tool

SENCO get the job done right A t Senco, we specialise in industrial and construction fastening solutions with focuses on the development of tools, fasteners and accessories. The company offers a wide range of power fastening systems, anchoring products and industry specific solutions. Senco tools and fasteners have helped generations of professionals get the job done right

1947

24 PBM JULY/AUGUST 2021

— first time! At worksites and workplaces all around the globe, Senco fasteners and tools contribute to the productivity and success of hardworking professionals. Whether you’re working in the toughest industrial environment or need a stapler or nailer occasionally for professional use, Senco’s high quality tools and fasteners will suit your requirements.

Over 70 years of marketing-led innovation

NOW

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Every type of tool technology.... FUSION No gas. No compressors. No hoses. Our Fusion range has no ramp up time, which allows you an instant shot. We have a first fix nailer, as well as a range of second fix nailers.

GAS Our range of gas tools has a high voltage ignition system which gives a powerful performance in every shot. The cordless convenience means no hoses, compressors or wires are interrupting your work!

PNEUMATIC Senco pneumatic tools are available in various propositions from light to heavy duty, to meet extensive end user demands ranging from on-site construction to the less demanding needs of the occasional user.

BATTERY POWERED Our battery range allows the tools to fulfil their potential performance. Quick recharging times and long lasting batteries mean you can get the job done to a quality standard, whilst still being efficient.

... and every type of fastener you need! TYPE OF FASTENER

FASTENER INFO.

MIN – MAX LENGTH

NAILS 1st Fix Strip Nails

Siding Nails, Smooth Shank, Ring Shank

45-160mm

2nd Fix Strip Nails

Finish Nails 15GA / 16GA

25-63mm

Brad Nails

Full Head, Slight Head, Headless

13-55mm

Pins

Headless, Medium Head Pins

12-50mm

Coil Nails

Smooth Shank, Ring Shank

19-130mm

Knurled/Screw Shank

STAPLES Fine, Medium, Heavy Wire

Ø4.8 – 27 mm

4-110mm

High Load

Ø11.1 / 27 mm

22-160mm

Drywall

to Wood, Light & Heavy Steel

25-75mm

Flooring Wood to Wood

4.0 / 4.2 / 4.5 mm

25-75mm

Decking Wood to Wood

4.2 / 4.5 mm

35-75mm

Ø3.0 – 8.0 mm

12-180mm

Corrugated Fasteners

Rebar Tying Wire

Fencing Staples

Clinch Clips

T-Nails

Button Cap Staples

COLLATED SCREWS

LOOSE SCREWS Wood Construction, AR+, Chipboard Screws

SPECIALIST FASTENERS

PBM JULY/AUGUST 2021 25


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ADVERTORIAL SUPPLEMENT

 Pallets & Fencing

 Rebar Tying & Underfloor Heating

Senco’s wide range of tools for the pallet, packaging & fencing industries is unrivalled, and they drive fasteners ranging in length from 16 to 130mm with finishes including Galv+, HDG & Stainless Steel. Plus, we offer cordless flexibility for stock fencing with the GT40FS Fencing Stapler, saving time & money. No hoses, no compressors, no hammer.

Senco’s SRT40 18v Rebar Tying tool significantly boosts your efficiency compared to manual tying. The brushless motor ensures faster and efficient ties as fast as 0.6 secs. The tool makes tying reinforcement rods easy, and the SRT40 is also ideal or securing underfloor heating a simple task.

 Upholstery & Furniture A market-leader in upholstery tools for over 70 years, Senco continues to deliver the best tools in the industry, with an unparalleled range of fasteners.

 Flooring, Decking & Truck Bodies Whether it’s exterior decking, mezzanine flooring or truck floors, Senco has tools & fixings to significantly increase productivity & save you money.

Which is why we’re trusted by some of the largest upholstery & furniture manufacturers in the UK.

 Modular Accommodation & Park Homes For over 50 years Senco has been a trusted supplier of fasteners & tools to major manufacturers of park homes, caravan & modular buildings. Offering a high level of technical expertise & high quality products meeting all the relevant industry standards, we’re trusted and proud to supply and support major industrial partners across the UK.

26 PBM JULY/AUGUST 2021

 Timber Frame Housing Innovative building techniques need innovative tooling, & Senco has a range of tools & fixings ideally suited to the construction & erection of timber frame buildings.

 Joinery & Woodworking Whether it’s external cladding with our Duraspin Auto-Feed Screwdrivers, cabinet manufacture with our heavy wire staplers, or fixing dado, architrave & skirting with our range of Fusion Cordless Nailers, we’ve got tools & fixings to make your job easier & more cost effective.

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Cordless On-Site Construction From gas-driven framing & finishing nailers & cordless staplers, to our range of auto-feed screwdrivers, we’ve got tools for all your on-site fixing needs.

“These Senco machines are the best I’ve tested to date.” Tibby Singh, BBC Carpenter of the Year

LOW NOISE COMPRESSORS

as low as

58dB

PBM JULY/AUGUST 2021 27


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ADVERTORIAL SUPPLEMENT

“With Senco, I have reliability on tap.” Will Oultram has been in the trade for over 20 years and runs his own successful joinery business. He started using Senco tools when starting out in the industry and continues to do so because they have high build quality tools, are easy to use and very durable.

“The aftersales fixing and maintenance of tools is done within 24 hours.” This award-winning modular building company has been with Senco for over 15 years. They continue to use Senco because of the efficiency of tools, high standard and high quality of the fixings.

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Product support and training Senco understands the need for customers to make the right decisions when choosing new products. That’s why our marketing materials and in-store displays are designed to showcase the key features and benefits in a clear way that enables you to make the correct choice. We’re investing heavily in our brand awareness and Senco wants to be more than just a distributor. We aim to support our merchants and end-users from purchase to use, with experienced field staff ensuring you get the right product for the job or application. We provide you with safety training to ensure products are used safely and efficiently, as well as after-sales servicing to ensure fasteners carry on getting driven and get the job done.

“Our marketing materials and in-store displays are designed to showcase the key features and benefits in a clear way that enables you to make the correct choice.”

Customer service experts Our strong and knowledgeable customer service team go above and beyond to solve any issues that you or end users may have. Whether it is ordering stock, assisting customers with their needs, any warranty questions, tool maintenance etc.

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MAKING HARD WORK EASIER

Fusion F-35XP-First Fix Framing Nailer

CONTACT US @senco_uk

t: 01925 445566 e: Sales@kyocera-senco.co.uk a: Kyocera-Senco UK, 630 Europa Boulevard, Warrington, WA5 7YH www.senco.eu

@senco.uk

in

@kyocera-senco uk


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MERCHANT FOCUS

Developing picture The pace of activity in the merchant sector shows no sign of letting up, with a series of recent moves illustrating a number of the broader trends that are occurring within the market — private equity investment, group expansion and the parallel-yet-opposing movements of further diversification for some and greater rationalisation for others. PBM considers some of the biggest stories from recent weeks.

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nnounced towards the end of May and following long term speculation, Travis Perkins plc has confirmed the disposal of its Plumbing & Heating business to an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital — described as a global alternative investment firm, with over €36 billion of equity capital under management — for a “cash consideration of £325 million, on a debt-free, cash-free basis and subject to customary adjustments”. From its Northamptonshire base, the P&H business operates under the primary trading brands of City Plumbing Supplies and Plumbing Trade Solutions (PTS) with over 350 branches across the UK and Ireland, alongside several specialist online outlets. In the year ended 31 December 2020, P&H generated revenue of £1,041 million,

adjusted operating profit of £17.9 million (including property profits of £1.4m) and a loss before tax of £1.7m. Gross assets at 31 December 2020 were £580 million. Alongside the recent demerger of Wickes in April, the sale of P&H represents the completion of the Travis Perkins plc intention to “simplify the Group” and “improve returns” through a renewed focus on its General Merchanting business and its Toolstation arm. Following a series of recent acquisitions to its builders’ and plumbers’ merchant businesses in and around the South West of England — 3Counties, CRS Building Supplies, Total Plumbing Supplies, Buildit and RGB — Grant & Stone has now announced the purchase of Devondale Electrical Distributors in a further expansion of its

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well-established electrical division. Established in 1981 and reporting revenues of £10m in 2020, Devondale operates from nine branches across Somerset and Devon with its headquarters in Marsh Barton, Exeter. With the support of investment partner Cairngorm Capital Partners, Grant & Stone’s stated strategy has been to develop its business through a combination of acquisitions, new site development and organic growth. Devondale’s “highly complementary” branch network and product range is said to support this, “providing geographic expansion, product extension and a strong platform for further growth”. Lastly, Higgins Building Supplies has been revealed as the latest acquisition made by the Huws Gray Group as part of its ongoing expansion programme. Established in 1866 by Thomas Henry Higgins, the Northamptonshire-based business has been under the stewardship of five successive generations of the Higgins family and currently operates from a 4.5-acre depot and landscaping centre in Wellingbrorough plus a third site in Irthlingborough. With the purchase expanding the Group’s presence in the East Midlands and signalling a move to “connect” its established sites in the North West and South East, Huws Gray’s Head of Acquisitions Matthew Owen said: “This latest acquisition of a well-known and highly respected company in the industry is a perfect fit for us to strengthen and expand our branch network. We’re not just buying a business; we’re buying over 150 years of history and we are looking forward to working alongside the existing teams and learning from their industry-leading landscaping offer.”

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SPECIAL REPORT: E-COMMERCE PERSPECTIVES

Online and on track The importance of e-commerce in the builders’ merchant sector may not be a new view but it’s one that has been given a new perspective following the challenges of the last year. Sue Packer, Group Chief Operations Officer from online builders’ merchant CMOStores.com, argues that rather than keeping customers at a distance, developing a strong online presence can help build relationships and solidify sales.

W

e are very aware that here at CMO, we don’t fit the mould of a ‘traditional’ builders’ merchant. In fact, it’s something that we are incredibly proud of and one of the reasons why during the recent pandemic, we have been better placed than most to keep calm and carry on. More importantly though, the fact that we operate in a completely digital arena and have made a success of this business model says more about our customers than us — they are the ones that choose to buy products online and they are the ones that are setting the bar even higher by what they expect in terms of price, delivery and customer service. There has been a dramatic increase in customers purchasing online but rather than this being a temporary trend caused by the recent Covid-19 restrictions, we believe that

32 PBM JULY/AUGUST 2021

they have only shone a light on preferences and behaviours that were already there. The market is evolving and although none of us can afford to stand still, neither can we lose sight of our core values. One of the biggest misconceptions about online trading is that it is too detached — but if

done correctly, customers can enjoy the same level of personal service and support as they would face-to-face. So how can you balance online innovation with old-fashioned customer service? The answer is perhaps simpler than you may think.

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More than just products Whether your target customer is a trade professional or a DIY enthusiast, although the level of help and advice they require may vary, replicating the social interactions you would usually have in store is one of the most important aspects of creating a positive online experience. This is why we have developed a comprehensive help and advice portal across all of our individual store websites so that as well as browsing for products, our customers have easy access to a wide range of advisory articles and inspirational blogs. This variety and quantity of useful content can be viewed at any time and in any place, making the whole process of reaching a project much more convenient and enjoyable for the customer. If there is a need or a preference to speak to someone, our customer service team is available to chat on the phone or respond by email. Everything can be accessed via a mobile, laptop or tablet which in today’s world, are the essential tools of the trade. We may not be communicating to our customers face-to-face but we are certainly talking directly to them. Improve the customer journey Browsing a website is very different from browsing a shop but the same best practice principles still apply — you want your customers to be happy with their experience, to be able to easily find what they are looking for at the price and quantity they need. In much the same way as you would help your customer navigate around the store, we have also invested in an innovative onsite artificial intelligence personalisation solution

“The fact that we operate in a completely digital arena and have made a success of this business model says more about our customers than us.” which makes recommendations and reminds customers about other key products relating to their purchase. Our team are well trained, ready to spot any missing items and will contact the customer directly to check they have everything they need to get their job done. It’s not about upselling but about upholding standards — whether they are leaving a physical store or a website, customers should be happy and satisfied, and keen to return again. Treating your e-commerce site as a part of your shop floor rather than separate to it is an important step in making your business work both on and offline.

Stay flexible Restrictions may be easing but keeping a strong digital presence has never been more important. Indeed, there is much talk about the ‘new normal’ and what this may look like for the country but in terms of the builders’ merchant sector, continuing to invest and improve your e-commerce and online offering is definitely a strategy that should stay locked in your business plans.

■ To see CMO’s approach in practice, visit www.rdr.link/md010


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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

The modern catalogue Gary Brookshaw, Product Director at Intact, discusses the new ways for merchants to access product data in a digital world and how to leverage product data in your ERP system.

M

anaging the product data in your business software is a challenge. Even if you start with a clean, robust product data repository it can be a challenge to continually cleanse and maintain this data to ensure it is always up-to-date and accurate. Merchants often rely on suppliers to provide them with product data, including specs and images, so when this falls short the integrity of the merchant’s product database gets compromised. The end result is that merchants are often left with product files containing huge variations in terms of the quality of the data. Impact of poor quality data Given the vast quantity of product lines merchants have access to, the complexity and effort required to manage a clean, robust product database has, in the past, been

36 PBM JULY/AUGUST 2021

significant. Where merchants ignore the integrity of their product database it causes significant negative knock-on effects for their e-commerce, sales and trade counter operation as the lack of good quality images, poor product descriptions, the appearance of deleted product lines etc. all leads to confusion and a general lack of professionalism, which ultimately impacts customer relations. However, for those working to avoid these issues by ensuring their product database is clean and up to date, there are huge levels of manual effort involved. Your commercial team may be spending a lot of their time updating your ERP software, e-commerce site and so on, and this is an exercise repeated by

merchants all over the country. In our opinion your team’s time could and should be better spent elsewhere. The manual, repetitive nature of this work lends itself to applying technology to address the issue. A better way With a centrally maintained product data source in situ for merchants, the duplication of effort we are currently seeing across merchants up and down the country could be greatly reduced. The onus would shift towards suppliers to feed product data into a central database in a standardised format that can then be used to feed the product data file in your ERP software, your website and can also be readily used in marketing &

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print collateral. Initiatives such as NMBS OnePlace highlight that easier access to centrally maintained, readily accessible merchant product data is a requirement. The role of your ERP provider Merchant ERP providers, like Intact iQ, are working to ensure merchants can easily access trusted product data sources like NMBS OnePlace or other Product Information Management (PIM) solutions. By leveraging new technology, we can give merchants access to view live product catalogue information from within their ERP system. That can include product specifications, images, links to the manufacturer’s website and more. This data doesn’t need to be synchronised so you can have ready access to vast quantities of supplier product data. It is easily searchable, always on and always up to date. In addition, you could easily create a new product for your ERP product file from the data sources you have access to. Trade counter experience With this level of data access, searching beyond your standard company product file can easily be facilitated in Intact iQ, with live links to relevant industry data sources just a click away. Products in the data sources can be immediately entered into a sales order as a back to back order ensuring your business doesn’t lose out on the sales opportunity and your customer doesn’t have to look elsewhere. Accessing this data is as easy as shopping online for your sales team and effectively extends out your product range far beyond the capacity of your warehouse.

■ DEDICATED TO THE MERCHANT INDUSTRY Intact’s software, services and related product roadmap are designed to enable your merchant business to operate at its best. The company’s leading merchant ERP solution, Intact iQ, sits at your digital core but also extends out to your customers and remote employees through the range of integration, mobile, ecommerce and deployment solutions it provides. This omni-ERP experience ensures you retain one central business hub so you can maximise productivity, improve decision making and ensure both employees and customers can engage with your business seamlessly. Intact’s expert merchant consultants also work in partnership with your team to understand how best to employ technology to optimise operations. Post-implementation, Intact’s local customer success team goes beyond traditional technical support to offer consultancy expertise, an online learning portal, ideation forum and innovative updates that bring new merchant-focused functionality to you continuously.

The business benefits One click access to extended product data and rich product data attributes for your sales operations; Expands your product range with minimal effort thus creating an endless aisle of choice; Eliminates the manual effort of syncing data files; Reduces the manual effort of maintaining product files; Easier for suppliers — update one source in an agreed standardised format; Easier for merchants; Easier for your end users; Result: increased customer satisfaction!

• • • • • •• •

www.professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk

"The complexity and effort required to manage a clean, robust product database has, in the past, been significant." ■ For more information on Intact and its range of services for merchants, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md011

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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Strengthen your core The Independent Builders’ Merchant Group speaks to PBM about the decision making process behind the selection of its new K8 ERP solution from Kerridge Commercial Systems.

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ormally established in October 2019 following a series of mergers and acquisitions, the Independent Builders Merchant Group (IBMG) required an ERP solution that would allow it to consolidate across its network of 39 branches, but crucially allow its businesses to continue to operate independently. With four customer-facing brands already under its umbrella — Chandlers, Parker Building Supplies, Fairalls and Stamco Timber — finding a platform that would deliver both consistency and growth was deemed to be essential. Furthermore, the business needed a platform where it could “easily add new brands or new branches to existing brands.” The IBMG philosophy of being ‘your favourite local merchant who can get you what you want’ underpinned its thought process in choosing and implementing the ERP system. The group’s four distinct brands each deliver a bespoke service to their customers — however, having access to a single, central platform was “imperative to ensure consistency and efficiency of reporting across the group”. As one of the largest independent builders’ merchant groups in the south east, choosing the business system that would deliver the right balance of flexibility and consistency was no easy feat. Paul Barry,

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IBMG’s Chief Financial Officer, said: “Before moving to K8, the brands maintained their own support functions for transactional processing in a head office-type environment. We wanted to consolidate all of this onto a single platform, with all of the business benefits that this can bring. “Through the implementation of K8, we have been able to support multi-branch operations, while facilitating the rationalisation and organisation of a central team to support the common areas of our business. This is not to reduce headcount explicitly, but is designed to ensure we share out the best of our different brands throughout the entire group. We’ve got fantastic people across our business and we want to bring them together under that family umbrella so we can tap into that expertise and knowledge to the benefit of all.”

The ability to maintain a wide variety of customer pricing options was a key feature IBMG sought from its new ERP system. Whether it relates to terms, profiling or discounts, the flexibility around these options has been “really important to enable each brand to maintain its local relationships and independence”. Implementation The implementation of K8 was initiated during the first national lockdown, which brought a number of new challenges for both IBMG and KCS as there was no on-site training or ‘hand holding’ through the process — all whilst a number of essential branches remained open. Having a functional ERP in place was crucial, as was ensuring disruption was kept to an absolute minimum.

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The implementation was successfully phased in ‘by brand’, despite the upheaval brought about by the pandemic. Paul reflected: “Our counters were able to operate and continue operating all day. Fundamentally, the most important thing for us was to make sure our customers were served as normal, and in all cases, we’ve been able to do that. It’s a credit to the commitment of our team.” Mark Routen, Head of IT at IBMG, continued: “Now we are using K8 across the group, everybody is able to use the same platform, no matter what the brand or branch location. This gives us a powerful lever in terms of resourcing and addressing needs across the business as our customers move or change their buying approaches. It has given us that level of flexibility that a single ERP should, without a long, drawn-out and cumbersome implementation.” Data insights IBMG needs to be able to access consistent information at both a branch and management level. The group designed a K8 dashboard that provides branch managers with a complete overview of their operations and business KPIs, with drill down into data from a single home screen, including sales, orders placed and general activity throughout the business. Paul said: “The implementation of this innovative dashboard has been a real win for many of the branch managers — the quality of information they can retrieve for decision making has improved dramatically.” One of the challenges IBMG faced was being able to consolidate legacy data that had previously been stored in three separate ERP

platforms. The group is now benefiting from bringing this information together within a single database. Anna James, Head of Marketing at IBMG, revealed: “You can’t underestimate the power of consistency of management information. When you’ve been working across different systems and suddenly you’re working with just one, it means that no matter where the data is coming from, it represents a single source of truth and makes it so much easier for us to be able to do comparable analysis.” Next steps IBMG is currently launching several transactional websites and is using the range of K8 digital APIs to integrate their web partner’s platform. Anna said: “We want our customers to enjoy a seamless experience when they buy from us online. It’s been a big

project to get these websites up and running and K8 seamlessly integrated into these portals is the clever bit. Moving to a modern ERP with digital services has facilitated the launch of these sites and allows us to really make the most of our ecommerce offering.” With more steps on IBMG’s digital journey to come, and although still in the initial stages of using its new ERP software, the group says it has already witnessed a positive impact across all areas of its business. Even considering the difficult trading conditions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, IBMG is said to be on course to achieve record-breaking sales and profits in 2021. ■ For more information on Kerridge Commercial Systems’ K8 ERP solution, and to download its latest merchant brochure, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md012


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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Customer service The theoretical benefits of modern IT systems are often discussed, but how does this really impact on all areas of a merchant’s operation from your customers as well as your own teams? PBM speaks with professional tradesman Ryan Caws who outlines the essential requirements he looks for in the merchants he buys from in his local area, whilst we also hear from BBS Plumbing & Heating Supplies which has just rolled out a new software system for its five branches.

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outhampton-based Caws Carpentry and Building was established in 2002 by Ryan Caws, who can now look back on over 30 years of experience in the building and carpentry trades. The company specialises in bathroom installations, extensions, loft conversions, refurbishment and much more besides, meaning that it is “constantly busy” with new customers being placed on a waiting list due to its reputation for the quality of its work. With many employed, self-employed, and subcontracted tradesmen relying on Ryan to earn a living, the start of the Covid-19 pandemic brought the worry of not only how to protect his staff from coronavirus, but also how to pay them a wage they could survive on. Ryan explained: “The start of the pandemic was extremely hard — we had to abide by the new rules of who was and wasn’t allowed to work, try to keep my staff in work so they could earn a living, keep them socially distanced, and keep the guys out of customers houses unless physically impossible. It was a nightmare, and we’re still seeing the effects of it today.” Sourcing materials also became a headache, with shortages nationwide and social distancing causing problems for collections. However, many innovative merchants completely changed the way they

conducted business, which Ryan says was a “game changer”. He said: “I deal with a huge number of merchants in the south (a combination of nationals and small local organisations) and this past year has really made my priorities change. I cannot have my guys driving around, back and forth between merchants looking for bags of cement anymore. They must limit their human interaction and save costs wherever possible. “I need to be able to go online, see that what I need is in stock, and place an order for collection there and then. Being able to get texts from merchants when my order is ready and knowing that my staff won’t have to handle unnecessary paperwork and can

instead receive delivery notes by email — these things are so important to us now.” Ryan continued: “I tend to lean towards (merchant) suppliers that I can access online nowadays — I just don’t have time to be calling around asking for copy invoices or making payments. I’m often working late into the evening, when the merchants have closed, and so being able to access my account online to look up prices, place orders, arrange collections etc is essential so that we can get a running start the next day.” The increased need for remote order entry (e-commerce) and mobile solutions has obviously been exponential over the last year. Customer special prices, stock availability, credit limits and historic sales

“This past year has really made my priorities change. I cannot have my guys driving around, back and forth between merchants looking for bags of cement anymore. I need to be able to go online, see that what I need is in stock, and place an order for collection there and then.”

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Ryan Caws, Caws Carpentry and Building

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“I still very much value a good deal and a friendly, fast service — but if I can get that from a supplier that helps me protect my team and my business, then all the better.” BBS Plumbing & Heating Supplies’ has placed a 60-user order for Intact iQ from Blue Rock Systems.

The BBS Plumbing & Heating Supplies showroom.

had to be live and drawn real-time from a back-office system, removing any reliance on paper and reducing manpower — something that has been essential during the furlough and redundancy period — while also providing an efficient and slick service that business owners like Ryan desperately needed in hard times. If, hopefully soon, we return to a world without social distancing measures, then the innovators within the merchant industry will already be ahead of the game with slicker, more efficient operations which benefit themselves and their customers. As Ryan notes: “I still very much value a good deal and a friendly, fast service — but if I can get that from a supplier that helps me protect my team and my business, then all the better.” Providing increased levels of customer service and improving productivity for all aspects of the business was said to be behind BBS Plumbing & Heating Supplies’ decision to place a 60-user order for Intact iQ from

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Blue Rock Systems. The Bristol-based PHG member was originally founded in 1933 as a general building & agricultural merchant, adapting its business model over the years to become one of the leading plumbing and heating suppliers in the South West of England. Now boasting five branches, its expansion had “put pressure on the current aging software setup” and so the requirement for a modern and flexible system became apparent. Lee Hooper, the merchant’s Managing Director, said: “We had been aware of Blue Rock Systems and Intact iQ through the industry for many years before we actually met them initially in 2019. From that first meeting we were thoroughly impressed with Intact iQ system and could see how it would modernise our business. “That said, our decision to move forward was delayed on a several occasions due to our continued expansion. We have grown to the point where everything we do currently

is very manually intensive and is really very inefficient (but) we have seen how the Intact iQ system will help us become more productive across all our departments.” Intact iQ will allow BBS to control its own workflow alerting to clients and staff alike, along with the ability to design its own screens and many other functions the company simply could not have through its current system. All together, BBS believes it will now be able to provide increased levels of customer service whilst driving efficiency and productivity from within the business to ultimately help the bottom line. Lee added: “The availability of data, and the proactive nature of this alerting us, is going to revolutionise how we run the business. We expect to make big gains quite quickly in how we will be able to run moving forward.” ■ For more information on Blue Rock Systems and its solutions for merchants, enter the shortcode: www.rdr.link/md013

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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY BORDER MERCHANT SYSTEMS 30TH ANNIVERSARY Monmouth-based Border Merchant Systems is celebrating 30 years in business. Border’s CounterAct system was designed as a tailor-made system for merchants, ranging from small family-run single sites to large multibranch companies, and the company has promised some “big changes” for its milestone year. There has been a brand refresh, whilst plans are also in place to upgrade its website to better “reflect the standard” of its eCommerce offering. In addition, the business states there will be “big system enhancements coming in 2021” which will give Border and its customers “an even stronger technical foundation and integrated online presence to take them through the next 10 years”. Phil Davies, Commercial Manager, said: “Celebrating 30 years in business is just fantastic. We would like to thank all our customers for their support over the years, and we thoroughly look forward to continuing working with them.”

■ Enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md014 for more information.

ECOMMONSENSE GROWTH IN ECOMMERCE The increased reliance on eCommerce over the course of the pandemic has led to a surge in business for eCommonSense, which specialises in providing website solutions for the merchant sector. Earlier this year for example, the business launched a new eCommerce platform for the National Timber Group under the new unified brand of ‘Timberworld’ whilst its client Inter-Line recently won the Online Digital Strategy category in the Builders’ Merchant Awards for a second time. eCommonSense CEO Andy Scothern serves as the BMBI expert for website and product data solutions, and has also hosted recent ‘virtual’ BMF Digital Forums. He said: “We have seen a huge surge in demand for our solutions as the pandemic has accelerated the trend to trade online. Online revenues are increasing at a phenomenal rate and have reached a level where no one can afford to ignore this side of the business.”

■ For more information, go to www.rdr.link/md015

IN MY YARD ONLINE MARKETPLACE Pitched as “Building a Community for the Building Community”, In My Yard has announced the launch of its online marketplace for tradespeople, DIYers and merchants looking to buy and sell new, used and surplus stock. Set up with the specific goals of reducing construction waste, saving users time and money, and aiming to build a strong local / national trades community by bringing users together, the easy-to-use platform was developed by two landscape gardeners from Surrey who were “looking for a reliable way to buy and sell materials, tools and equipment”. Primarily for trade professionals and keen DIYers, builders’ merchants are being encouraged to sign up to benefit from the “impressive outreach to potential customers” whilst also helping them to sell off old or surplus stock.

■ Visit the site via www.rdr.link/md016

ORDERWISE BUSINESS MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE OrderWise has posted strong double-digit growth for the financial year 2020/21, reporting an 18% increase in turnover. The Lincolnshire firm attributes much of this growth to “its capability to help its customers improve end-to-end solutions through modular scalable ERP, WMS and multi-channel software solutions” which have been in high demand as businesses have adapted to meet changing customer demands and improve efficiency throughout the pandemic. David Hallam, OrderWise’s founder and CEO, said: “The last 12 months have been challenging for every business whether their revenue increased or fell during the pandemic. Difficult and often quick decisions have had to be made, especially around investing in technology. We’ve worked closely with hundreds of businesses to implement ERP and WMS solutions alongside ecommerce integration to meet their changing requirements.”

■ Discover more via www.rdr.link/md018

NMBS ONEPLACE NMBS recently held a webinar to update members on the latest features added to the OnePlace B2B ordering and product information management (PIM) platform. OnePlace was designed to create better trading efficiencies for members by enabling them to search for and order products quickly on the platform, as well as providing quick and easy access to supplier product and price data. The platform is undergoing a programme of continuous improvement during 2021 as the NMBS team works to make it even more efficient, creating further sales opportunities for members and suppliers alike.

■ View www.rdr.link/md017 to see more about NMBS OnePlace.

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PLUMBING & HEATING

State of flux Heating is set to play a vital role in the drive to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions, and discussions on ‘net zero 2050’ tend to focus on new technologies such as heat pumps and hydrogen solutions. With the tried and trusted gas-fired boiler continuing to dominate the industry, PBM explores the current state of play in the heating market.

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o place some context to the debate, sales of domestic gas boilers have “bounced back from the Covid downturn” according to the latest figures from the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) which show that 2021 looks set to be a record year for gas boilers. Year-to-date sales (Jan – April) for 2021 are 674,063 units which compares to 476,847 units at the same point in 2020 — an increase of 41%. Similarly, the 12-month rolling average to the end of April 2021 has increased by 14% to 1,759,971 units (up from 1,545,516 units a year previously), and over 80% of the boilers sold are combination heat and hot water boilers, where the home has no hot water cylinder. In March, the HHIC wrote to the Prime Minister to confirm that UK boiler manufactures had reached an agreement in principle to support any future Government legislation which mandates all new models of domestic boilers to be “hydrogen-ready” from 2025. HHIC Director Stewart Clements said: “This pledge, from across our membership, will allow the Government to introduce the regulation mandating hydrogen-ready boilers for UK use, safe in the knowledge that UK manufacturers will deliver those appliances into homes. “HHIC has already developed a specification with industry detailing what a ‘hydrogen-ready’ boiler is. In short, it means

The Worcester Bosch hydrogen-ready boiler.

boilers already in homes will need under an hour of adjustment to allow a future switch from natural gas to hydrogen. “The Government can then confirm in their upcoming heat decarbonisation plan and hydrogen strategy that it has the long-term plan to repurpose current gas networks for hydrogen as a key tool to achieving zero carbon heating for over four-in-five UK homes currently using natural gas.” He added: “Hydrogen-ready boilers are the least disruptive means of decarbonising homes as they offer the opportunity for people to continue to heat, cook and use hot water in the same way they do today, without ripping out pipes, boilers, and in some cases floors. Using the existing world-class gas network infrastructure will also be the most cost-effective solution to decarbonisation.” In some senses, this can be seen as almost

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Vaillant Arotherm Lifestyle heat pump.

a pre-emptive strike as there are concerns within the industry that the Government is favouring heat pumps as its primary solution in the drive to zero carbon. The Energy and Utilities Alliance, for example, has responded in stark terms by arguing that possible Government plans for the “mass roll-out of heat pumps to UK homeowners amounts to Soviet-style production planning that takes no account of market demand”. Indeed, the EUA asserts that under plans being drawn up by BEIS as part of the Government’s heat and building strategy (due to be published shortly after this issue of PBM went to press) a target will be set of 600,000 heat pump installations every year from 2028. EUA Chief Executive Mike Foster argues that the proposals are targeting supply rather than demand, stating: “If this goes ahead, we are potentially going to get the heat pump equivalent of unwanted Lada cars that consumers don’t want and won’t buy. This is a crude attempt to manipulate the market for domestic heat and it won’t work.” He continued: “The UK’s boiler industry is a manufacturing success story that developed the combi boiler which has already done so much to improve domestic fuel efficiency and reduce household carbon emissions. It would be wrong to categorise the industry as deaf and blind to climate

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PLUMBING & HEATING

change issues. Huge amounts of R&D resource are being poured into the development of hydrogen boilers that can deliver the Government’s net zero targets without crude market manipulation and the denial of consumer choice.” Perhaps striving to take a little heat out of the somewhat polarising debate, Martyn Bridges, Director of Technical Communication and Product Management at Worcester Bosch, argues that more consideration needs to be given to the systems which are in our homes already. With around 6,000 natural gas boilers installed in homes across the UK every day, the boilers currently on the market can still contribute significantly to the decarbonisation agenda given that “for now at least, gas-fired boilers are here to stay in our homes”. In fact, Martyn argues that the majority of boilers on sale now “are already rather well equipped to contribute to (the) interim steps and carbon budgets” and that “any of the boilers installed since around 2000” are already “future proofed to some degree as they can run on low carbon gas”. Explaining that small amounts of bio methane are already being injected into the gas grid from “hundreds of anaerobic digestion systems plotted around the country”, before any potential wholesale switch to hydrogen, it will also be possible to decarbonise home heating further by using a blend of hydrogen instead of biogas. With the intention to inject hydrogen into the grid already confirmed, Worcester is participating in trials across the country and further test sites are being rolled out throughout the year. For example, in Winlaton, Tyne and Wear, Northern Gas Networks is to introduce a further 670 homes running on a 20% blend of hydrogen. Martyn said: “This will reduce CO2 emissions by around 8%, which might sound small but is a very significant contribution to decarbonisation if every house in the country was treated the same.” As a manufacturer of both boilers and heat pumps, Mark Wilkins, Technologies and Training Director at Vaillant, concedes “there is no silver bullet to decarbonising heat in the UK” and adds: “ultimately, we need clarity from the Government so heating manufacturers, gas and network providers have a clear strategy to determine the

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Gas boilers will be with us for some time, and Worcester Bosch has recently launched its new flagship Greenstar 4000 model.

“With around 6,000 natural gas boilers installed in homes across the UK every day, the boilers currently on the market can still contribute significantly to the decarbonisation agenda.” journey to decarbonising heat.” Offering a degree of pragmatism the Government would arguably do well to heed, he continued: “With the cost of a heat pump installation significantly more expensive than a boiler installation and with a lack of incentives currently available, many homeowners will opt for a less costly approach. Currently, many homeowners are unaware of the changes required to their

heating systems, including how a heat pump works, how the system operates at lower temperatures, and the behaviours in the operation of the system compared to a traditional boiler. “We urge the Government to act quickly and provide the much needed clarity so that we can move forward in the decarbonisation journey. Whilst we are waiting for strategies to be announced, Vaillant is working with Government and trade associations to ensure the decarbonisation of heating is carried out in the most effective way, ensuring that whatever is suggested is easy to implement for the installer and the homeowner.” For more information on the subject, enter the appropriate shortcode: EUA www.rdr.link/md009 HHIC www.rdr.link/md019 Worcester Bosch www.rdr.link/md020 Vaillant www.rdr.link/md021

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PLUMBING & HEATING

Index linked With a plethora of reports and statistics outlining the pace of the recovery in the construction industry, the latest Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index highlights how a “bumper March” made for a strong first quarter for the plumbing & heating sector.

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riven by strong March sales, the latest Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) report was released in late May and shows specialist plumbing & heating merchants’ Q1 2021 value sales improving year-on-year. Indeed, Q1 2021 value sales of plumbing and heating products were said to be 6.8% up on Q1 2020, with one less trading day this year. Sales in March 2021 were up 26.0% on March 2020, with one more trading day this year. The authors of the PHMI report note that comparisons with March last year are “not especially informative” as merchants were closing branches at the start of Lockdown 1 on the 24th of March. Consequently, year-on-year comparisons with that period show considerable gains, but with such volatility it’s difficult to assess the strength of recovery. For a more useful comparator, it makes sense to look back two years and benchmark 2021 against the ‘more normal’ trading conditions in 2019. Using this metric, sales in the first quarter of 2021 were 3.5% higher than the same period in 2019, with no difference in trading days. Furthermore, March 2021 was 13.7% stronger than March 2019, with two more trading days this year,

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“Price increases could continue to drive value sales growth, with costs of raw materials continuing to rise and ongoing disruption to supply channels. Overall though, it’s a positive start for specialist plumbing and heating merchants, and I expect it to continue.” whilst average sales a day were up 3.8%. So, the recovery is a strong one. The PHMI Index for March 2021, which contrasts sales with the base period of January to December 2019, was 118.2, helped by two more trading days. For Q1 2021, the Index was 106.6 — an improvement from 99.9 in Q1 2020. Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research (which also produces the BMBI reports),

said: “First quarter figures for specialist plumbing and heating merchants are very encouraging, with growth fuelled by strong demand in March as Covid restrictions eased. It is also reassuring to see growth compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019. “Price increases could continue to drive value sales growth, with costs of raw materials continuing to rise and ongoing disruption to supply channels. Overall though, it’s a positive start for specialist plumbing and heating merchants, and I expect it to continue.” Produced by MRA Research for the Builders Merchants Federation, the PHMI data is from GfK’s Plumbing & Heating Merchant Panel which represents over 80% of Britain’s specialist plumbing & heating merchants’ sales. Set up last year to complement the existing Builders Merchants Building Index, there is no overlap or double counting between PHMI and the BMBI sales data whilst both are able to deliver up-to-date, ‘real time’ data based on actual sales from merchants to tradespeople. ■ To download the latest report, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md022

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PLUMBING & HEATING

Stay on target Kevin Gates, Managing Director of Neoperl UK, discusses the importance of water usage efficiency.

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t’s a fact that on present projections, many parts of the UK will face significant water deficits by 2050, particularly the south east where a high proportion of the UK population live. It’s also a fact that in the UK each person uses on average 141 litres of water every day — the highest usage across all European countries. We all have a part to play in changing our buying and usage habits, plumbing and heating industry suppliers and merchants have to ask if enough is being done. If you’re involved in the supply of materials for new homes, you will be very aware of the drive — through Building regulations Part G — to develop more water efficient homes. Planning authorities expect limits of 125 litres of water per person per day on new developments and it’s only a matter of time before a similar focus on older residential properties. So, any products that help both the developer and plumbing installer reduce water usage have got to be considered as precious items for merchants to stock and advise upon. Over 30% of all water used in the home is through showering and bathing and this is where the fitting of a flow regulator or Pressure Compensating Aerator (PCA) can help. These small devices can be retrofitted and inserted at the end of a tap spout or

upstream of the shower outlet, to reduce and regulate the water flow. A standard European shower will produce around 18 litres of water a minute and yet a comfortable shower is possible from a shower head delivering 12 litres of water. If one considers a 7-minute shower a day, that’s 42 litres of water saved by one person per shower. Add to that the savings that can be made by reducing the flow in bathroom and cloakroom taps, which are often just used for cleaning teeth and hands, and the savings really add up. And if the homeowner is saving the amount of water used, they are also saving the energy that heats it. There’s always been a little more resistance when it comes to saving water in the kitchen, understandably as we want to be able to quickly fill our pans for cooking or kitchen sinks for washing up. However, a new innovation may hold the answer.

Neoperl Flow Regulators & Pressure Compensating Aerators are small devices that can offer big water savings.

The Mini Ecobooster introduced by Neoperl is an aerator for the kitchen tap that can be switched from water-saving flow to full capacity in an instant allowing the tap to be on 'ecomode' for general use but boosted to a fuller flow when required. This flow device protrudes slightly from the tap and can be switched easily into boost mode by pulling the sleeve upwards. After closing the tap, it always switches back into the default water saving mode. It solves any argument on a water saving device resulting in a lack of performance. Based in Malvern in Worcestershire, Neoperl UK is a huge manufacturer of water devices and produces many different sizes of flow regulator. Most UK taps and showers are compatible with just a handful of product sizes so by stocking a small selection of these aerator products and advising your installer customers accordingly, it could have a significant effect on helping to hit our UK water saving targets. ■ For more information on Neoperl UK’s range of water saving products, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md023

The new Mini Ecobooster from Neoperl can be retrofitted onto the end of a kitchen tap offering reduced flow in an instant.

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PLUMBING & HEATING WORCESTER BOSCH GREENSTAR 4000 Replacing the manufacturer’s “highly popular” Greenstar i series, the Worcester Bosch Greenstar 4000 has been designed to build on the “tried, tested and much-loved features” of its predecessor while receiving upgrades to its appearance and performance. Key improvements are said to include increased ease — and speed — of installation, commissioning and servicing, alongside improvements in efficiency and control for the user. Encompassing features from its range-topping 8000 Style, the new unit is said to deliver real advances in siting flexibility not least in matching the fixing points, etc of predecessor models.

■ Go to www.rdr.link/md024 for the lowdown on the new Greenstar 4000.

SANIFLO SANIFOS UNDERGROUND PUMPS The Sanifos range of underground pumps has been refreshed with two model upgrades and further extended with a number of new models. The Sanifos 280, for example, replaces the original 250 and offers an additional 30 litres capacity whilst the new Sanifos 610 provides a “huge” 110 litres additional capacity over its 500 litre predecessor. For public buildings or for multiple smaller buildings, Saniflo has introduced four large capacity models starting with the Sanifos 1300 which can pump waste up 17m.

■ Further details can be found via www.rdr.link/md025

Twyford has added to its product portfolio with extensions across several of its ranges. The Alcona portfolio, for example, will now see the inclusion of Rimless design technology into a selection of new products within the range, including a new compact, wall-hung WC. The supplier is also introducing new basins within its Option series. Additions to the range of Doc M packs have also been announced, seeing the launch of new basins and brassware, as well as new ambulant close coupled sanitaryware, exposed shower Doc M packs and new stainless steel rail variants.

■ Enter www.rdr.link/md026 for more.

SPIROTECH SPIROVENT SUPERIOR S250 For smaller commercial closed heating and cooling systems, Spirotech has added to its range of vacuum degassers, introducing the SpiroVent Superior S250. Appropriate for locations such as schools, restaurants and larger domestic properties, it is designed to operate almost silently. The S250 has been created in response to increased demand for low-temperature systems, such as in underfloor heating where it is difficult to detect where air can be released from. The S250 processes up to 74 litres of liquid each hour and operates at 41 decibels.

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Available as a stand-alone single pump or single and twin booster sets, the Aquaboost iBolt range of variable speed booster pumps and pump sets feature horizontal multistage pumps controlled by air-cooled variable speed frequency inverters mounted directly on the pump motor, designed to deliver a constant water pressure supply where flow demand varies. Mounted directly on the pump motor, these high performing, yet intuitive to commission pumps deliver flow rates from 5 m³/hour to 15 m³/hour and head pressures up to 9.0 bar depending on the chosen variant within the range. With an added buffer of pressurised cold water to supplement pressure and flow, Aquaboost iBolt Booster Sets are supplied with a WRAS approved 8 or 24 litre pressure vessel, combined with either a single or twin pump set mounted on a powder coated base plate for ease of installation.

■ Use www.rdr.link/md028 for more on the full range.

TWYFORD NEW ADDITIONS TO PRODUCT PORTFOLIO

■ Want to know more? Enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md027

STUART TURNER AQUABOOST IBOLT

BAXI HEATING GAS INDUSTRY AWARDS The development of an ‘aa’ boiler fuelled by hydrogen from Baxi Heating has won the Innovation category at the Gas Industry Awards. The boiler has been developed as part of its commitment to be a cleaner, greener manufacturing business and reflecting its Sustainability Pledge, launched last year, which aims to ensure that every one of its products will work with low carbon energy by 2025. MD Karen Boswell OBE said: “As a leading player in the British heating and hot water industry, we are determined to play our part in achieving the goal of being a net-zero economy.”

■ For more on the Baxi Sustainability Pledge go to www.rdr.link/md029.

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TRANSPORT, HANDLING & STORAGE

Driving forward Whilst the pandemic has clearly presented numerous challenges to overcome, the current level of sales have enabled many merchant business to invest in their vehicle fleets. PBM reveals more.

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he arrival of a brand-new Mercedes-Benz Arcox 32-tonne lorry with trailer is reportedly one of AE Spink’s largest transport investments to date. The family-run merchant was founded in 1926 and now trades from branches in Doncaster, Leeds, Sheffield and Worksop. In addition to four plumbing & heating outlets, it runs builders’ merchant operations from sites in Doncaster and Leeds and has expanded its commercial fleet to cope with the “current increase in building materials sales and orders”. With its sizeable carrying capacity, Spinks says the truck “will be a welcome addition to the fleet” for its heavyside business. Transport Manager Tony Billam commented: “We are delighted with the new lorry and it will make a huge difference to our operations, allowing us to meet everincreasing demand, while continuing to provide the top-quality delivery service that our customers expect. The drivers are looking forward to getting behind the wheels and out on the road.” The vehicle is fitted with a remote control crane system to make loading and unloading

operations safer, faster and more efficient whilst the new engine technology produces lower emission levels and delivers a better fuel economy to help Spinks reduce its carbon footprint. “State-of-the-art” front facing cameras have also been specified to assist with insurance claims should any incidents or accidents occur out on the road.

Paul Moorcroft, Truck Sales Executive at Northside Truck & Van, with Spinks’ Transport Manager Tony Billam

www.professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk

In addition to the new Mercedes-Benz, the company has also added an extra five forklift trucks, and a 7.5 tonne vehicle to its fleet. Down in Kent, fellow h&b member Youngs Timber and Builders Merchants has also invested in new delivery vehicles that are “greener, more versatile and more efficient than ever before” with its two new trucks — a DAF 16-tonne and Mercedes 26-tonne — both also specified with remote control cranes to make loading and unloading quicker and easier, and more flexible for customers. From depots in Dymchurch, Biddenden and Folkestone, the business says that despite the difficult trading conditions, it has seen successful growth across its three branches. Joint MD John Levitt said: “2020 and moving into 2021 has been challenging for Youngs like every other business. As a family-run independent merchant, we are agile and responsive to change and believe it is vital that we invest in our business and empower our teams to grow and thrive. “We are really positive about the future and the new trucks, quite apart from being

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TRANSPORT, HANDLING & STORAGE

more efficient and green than any we have run before, are an indication of our confidence in the business morning forward.” Merkko is also seeking to build on its lockdown growth with a “productive pair” of Mercedes-Benz Arocs trucks. MD Ian Duckitt, who founded the builders’ merchant in 2007, was looking to match the payload potential of his outgoing 26-tonne crane trucks — yet at 13.5 tonnes, each of his new vehicles offers an extra tonne of carrying capacity. Operating from its original site in Abingdon, Oxfordshire and a branch in Aldermaston, Berkshire that opened in 2013, Merkko offers a comprehensive range of heavy construction materials. Supplied by Marshall Truck & Van, the 6x2 Arocs will be maintained at the dealer’s Andover workshop under eight-year Mercedes-Benz Complete Service Contracts. Acquired with funding support from Mercedes-Benz Finance, the new 2532 L models are powered by “economical 7.7litre in-line six-cylinder engines that produce 235 kW (320 hp)” and feature

ClassicSpace M-cabs, and rear axles that lift and steer to reduce tyre wear whilst offering enhanced manoeuvrability when working on sites with restricted access. Horton Commercials, of Ferndown, Dorset, built their dropside bodies, while the rear-mounted, remote radio-controlled cranes are by HMF and fitted with Kinshofer brick and block grabs — here, an automated setting on the Arocs’ rear air suspension system ensures stability while the cranes are in operation.   The latest generation of Arocs is easily distinguished from its predecessor by the absence of mirrors with the manufacturer

saying that its MirrorCam system not only offers much-improved all-round visibility but also increased fuel-efficiency thanks to the compact and streamlined camera housings. Ian added: “A lot of our work takes them down narrow country lanes — I’d like to think that where broken mirrors have always been an issue in the past, the fact that the MirrorCam cameras are smaller and fitted at roof height means we’ll also benefit from a reduction in damage costs.” Other new features include Active Brake Assist 5 emergency braking technology, which offers enhanced pedestrian recognition, and enhanced Predictive Powertrain Control. Lastly, the “stylish Multimedia Cockpit” replaces conventional switchgear with twin screens — and the upgraded interactive version chosen by Merkko comes with a larger 12in instrument panel and extra functionality, including satellite navigation. ■ For more information on the MercedesBenz range, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md030


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TRANSPORT, HANDLING & STORAGE

One vision W

ith branches throughout Hampshire and Dorset, Elliotts has been running IVECO trucks in its customer delivery fleet for 15 years now. The 179 year old firm began replacing an ageing fleet of 18-tonne trucks with new, more versatile 26t IVECO Stralis back in 2006 and has been switching its smaller vehicles over to the brand too. After taking delivery of six new 35C14A8 3.5t GVW Daily trucks in February, each fitted with a VFS drop-side body, the Elliotts fleet now totals 43 vehicles — all of which are now IVECO models. The switch is said to have been well-received by management and drivers alike, and the company has since ordered a further three. The decision to replace its old vehicles with the IVECO Daily came after the business ordered a 7.2-tonne Daily 72C18HA8 with a tail-lift equipped Luton body for its Lymington-based kitchen, bathroom and bedroom business last year. Gary Tippen, Elliotts’ Operations Support Manager, consulted with the firm’s drivers to

All vehicles in the Elliotts fleet are now IVECO models following the merchant’s introduction of six new Daily trucks earlier in the year. identify the optimal vehicle specification. He said: “We’re keen to support the drivers with the right tools for their job and so far with Daily the drivers absolutely love them. If we look after the driver and they’re comfortable in a lovely cab with a nice gearbox, air conditioning and built-in navigation, they’re going to look after the vehicle far better, and that’s true across the range.” The latest vehicles are deemed to have been “carefully curated” to make the most of the model’s “premium comfort and functionality features” to boost productivity and driver satisfaction. Building on the “already functional” Business trimline, air conditioning comes standard as does cruise control and electrically heated/adjustable door mirrors.

New LED headlights are said to increase low-light visibility and hazard perception by up to 15% whilst the 7” touchscreen HICONNECT infotainment system with DAB and Bluetooth features navigation as well as Apple CarPlay & Android Auto functionality. Furthermore, the TomTom LIVE-based navigation system can be adjusted to take in to account the overall vehicle size and weight to “banish unsuitable route choices” and therefore improve delivery times. Working closely with local bodybuilder VFS Southampton, modifications to the bodywork have been undertaken “to ensure the greatest levels of operational safety”. Extra grab handles, steps and load tie-down hooks have been incorporated, while the tailboard features graphics to increase other roadusers’ awareness of potential blind-spots. Currently, the company runs its vehicles on a 10-year change cycle and expects the Daily fleet to cover 30,000mi annually. Most of the overall fleet is covered by the IVECO ON 3XL R&M Package with every vehicle connected to the IVECO Control Room. Running data is constantly monitored to provide early warning of maintenance requirements to aid in forward planning to increase uptime and lower the Total Cost of Ownership. Finally, the vehicle marque’s reactive dealer-operated 24/7 Assistance Non-Stop roadside support service is said to be “always on-hand if needed”. ■ For more information on the IVECO range, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md031 whilst details of its official dealer network can be found via www.rdr.link/md032

www.professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk

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TRANSPORT, HANDLING & STORAGE FORS 10 YEARS OF GOLD STATUS FOR KEYLINE The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) is designed to recognise “exemplary levels of compliance in legal requirements, safety, fuel efficiency, and environmental improvement within fleet operations”. A number of merchant firms have signed up to the scheme, including Keyline Civils Specialist which recently achieved FORS Gold Status for the tenth consecutive year. The company, as part of Travis Perkins plc, states that it is “driven to deliver safely and efficiently” and to maintain the Gold accreditation the business was shown to have demonstrated best practice and an ongoing commitment to operational excellence by meeting all of the requirements of the Bronze, Silver and Gold standards across its nationwide fleet of almost 200 vehicles. Year on year, Keyline has showcased its commitment to maintaining excellent driver safety through its thorough driver training programme. Keyline is also dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of its fleet by encouraging drivers to adopt safer and more fuel-efficient driving behaviours, and through investment in new vehicles and fuel types. FORS Gold status means that Keyline also meets the requirements of the Construction Logistics and Community Safety (CLOCS) Standard, which looks to ensure collaboration between the construction and fleet sectors to maximise safety at every stage of a project.

TOYOTA MATERIAL HANDLING HYDROSTATIC TONERO

■ For more on FORS, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md033

BETTER BRANCH DESIGN & LAYOUT Better Branch states that it offers a one-stop service for merchants that will “increase your average basket value by 40% or more while improving customer safety and satisfaction”. With the simple aim of ensuring that “your branch sells more”, the company says that its studies of customer buying behaviour allow it to maximise your space while increasing add-on sales and impulse purchases. Any return on investment can be “recouped within months by increased sales and profits”, and the company’s services span the exterior, shop and yard, and include a full site audit and plan preparation through to layout drawings and implementation.

■ To discover more including case studies of recently completed projects, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md034

RENAULT TRUCKS ELECTRIC RANGE Renault Trucks reports that its investment in ‘electric mobility’ will ensure that from 2023, an all-electric offer will be available for each customer segment it operates in, namely distribution, construction and long distance. The manufacturer is already well on its way with its commitment, having begun production back in March 2020 of the second generation of electric vehicles at its Blainville-sur-Orne plant. Accordingly, it already boasts a “comprehensive all-electric range” with vehicles from 3.1 to 26 tonnes, comprising the Renault Trucks D ZE, D Wide ZE and the Master ZE. With a commitment to Research and Development, the firm intends “to meet the main technological challenges of this revolution through strategic partnerships, as well as relying on synergies within the Volvo Group, to which it belongs, to increase volumes and reduce costs”.

■ Head to www.rdr.link/md035 to discover more.

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Toyota Material Handling’s top selling Tonero range of counterbalance forklift trucks is now offered with newlydeveloped Stage V compliant diesel and LPG engines, and offers a hydrostatic transmission for powerful automatic braking, smooth inching control and a fast change of direction — something said to be perfect for duties in busy builders’ merchant yards where “gentle handling is essential”. Designed and built in-house by Toyota, all-new Tonero counterbalance trucks up to 3.5t are available and when it comes to performance, the manufacturer asserts that “maximum uptime is assured as reliability has been designed in”. Requiring only minimal maintenance, with extended service intervals, uptime is further enhanced by the diesel particulate filter’s automatic regeneration feature which means that ash cleaning is only required after every 6,000 hours of operation. Furthermore, the three-way catalytic exhaust system used on the LPG Tonero Stage V is said to be completely maintenance free. Both exceed the Stage V regulations on emissions “keeping you cleaner and greener”, according to the manufacturer. The new range is also said to deliver “outstanding driveability” with minimal noise and vibration for more comfortable long shifts, an intuitive dashboard display for fast decision making, and LED lighting as standard.

■ Enter www.rdr.link/md036 for full specs.

www.professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk


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MARKETING SUPPORT

Back in business Under the easing restrictions, many merchant KBB showrooms are now back in business and open for the return of calling customers. After more than a year of tumult, Wilsonart’s Sales Leader Nick Jones shares five practical tips for stockists from laminate worksurface brand, Bushboard. 1. Review your collections Many showrooms have been open for just four months out of the last twelve. A year is a long time in the design world and new trends have started to emerge so speak to your suppliers about trends, ask for look books and make sure you have the latest decors. In worktops, for example, the result of people living, working and cooking at home non-stop for 12 months is an increasing trend for surfaces that replicate natural materials from the outside as a way of creating a sense of disconnection from our busy lifestyles. With the kitchen becoming a multipurpose space, broken-plan designs are on the rise and both contrasting and complementing worktop designs will be used to help separate different zones of the kitchen. However, the kitchen needs to seamlessly blend into the rest of the living décor, so 22mm square-edged worktops will become increasingly popular to help achieve this sense of continuity. And ensure you have these offerings on display. If you need further support on which trend-led surfaces will catch consumers’ attention, Bushboard’s business support team have a trend guide to help you find the right choice.

2. Market yourself Now that stores are open again, the competition is back on. How are you staying fresh, unique and innovative? Is your website and social media up to date? Presence is key, and with Bushboard’s Resource Centre, printed materials and lifestyle imagery for every range is available for download and use across your websites, social and email. 3. Make it Covid safe Whilst it might seem obvious, ensuring a really positive and safe visit for your customers will really enhance their shopping experience. Retailers that are seen to be going above and beyond can really make all the difference when it comes to selling. Make the most of hands-free digital brochures — these can be downloaded from the Bushboard Resource Centre and added to your website, and made available via a tablet or phone. 4. Embrace the virtual appointment system Some customers just don’t feel ready to come back into stores just yet. If you’ve been running virtual appointments, keep maintaining this service. It’s a great option for streamlining

62 PBM JULY/AUGUST 2021

those initial customer visits as you may be able to fit two to three online in the same time as one prospective client would take in store. Offering both options ensures that everyone still feels valued and wanted as a customer and that no one is excluded. 5. Up to date displays Whilst the sector has been closed, many brands have been working hard on revitalising their displays, POS and marketing support so that it’s in top condition for retailers when they reopen. Brands like Bushboard offers a range of POS including stands, signage and brochures so ensure you are communicating with your supplier partners to see what support and resources are available. For example, if you stock both Bushboard’s Omega and Options collections you can take advantage of a full-sized display worktop for your showroom completely free of charge. ■ For more information on the Bushboard product range and its marketing support for merchants, enter the shortcode www.rdr.link/md037


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KEYLITE ROOF WINDOWS SPECIAL AGENT CAMPAIGN

Keylite’s new Special Agent campaign offers merchants the opportunity to learn and win through its exclusive online Merchant Training Portal, Keylite Academy. Running until November 2021, merchants can win ‘special agent gadgets’ — including a supercar weekend break and driving experience, virtual cocktail event, Oculus VR Headsets and Apple Air Pods — by successfully completing each module in the Keylite Academy.

MARLEY SAFE IN THE SUN

Marley’s ‘Safe in the Sun’ campaign is designed to inform roofers and construction workers about the risks they face whilst working outdoors — and what they can do to protect themselves. This year’s campaign focusses on three important lines of defence in the fight against sun-induced illness — Cover Up, Use Sunscreen and Hydrate — to make sure everyone working on site this summer stays safe in the sun. The manufacturer is inviting merchants to support the campaign by helping to ensure their customers remain ‘sun safe’, whilst it is offering a Safe in the Sun kit comprising a Marley-branded T shirt, sunscreen and water bottle to reflect the three areas of the campaign message.

ABODE SAMPLE ORDERING SERVICE

Helping stockists show off its range of tap finishes without having to display each option, Abode has launched a new sample ordering service which enables consumers to colour-match at home. Marketing Manager Leanne Adamson said: “With such a wide array of tap finishes now available, this new sample ordering service means that retailers don’t need to display all options in-store. It also aims to make the decision process that bit easier for the end user, enabling them to see exactly what the finish looks like before purchasing.”

VIRTUAL WORLDS 4D THEATRE DISPLAYS VAN

With a record number of KBB retailers requesting to have 4D Theatre displays, the Virtual Worlds installation team now has an on-brand van to take to stockists. MD Nathan Maclean said: “It’s all about spreading the word about the power of designing kitchens and bathrooms with Virtual Worlds 4D and while our installation team are busier than ever, the van and the branding are getting a lot of coverage.”

LEISURE SINKS SINK-AND-TAP PACK DISPLAY

Leisure Sinks has launched a new promotional sink-and-tap pack display to support merchants in-store. The new branded pallet wrap holds 10 ready-to-buy sink-and-tap packs, featuring a mix of Leisure Sinks’ new Eaton stainless steel single- and 1.5-bowl sinks, plus Aquadisc duallever taps, and compatible waste kits. The promotion will allow merchants to provide customers with in-store offers whilst the branded pallet wrap has been designed with Leisure Sinks’ British manufacturing heritage at the core. Complete with Union Jack flag plus the ‘WRAS Approved Product’ logo, the packs feature detailed product information alongside an area for merchants to write their own product cost.

GEOCEL ECOSEAL CHALLENGE

With the help of a number of wellknown faces from across the construction industry including Julian Perryman, Roger Bisby and Wayne De Wet, Geocel has launched the ecoSEAL Challenge — part of a sixmonth campaign to encourage those in the trade to reduce their plastic waste by offering tradespeople the chance to try the more sustainable ecoSEAL system themselves for free.  Recipients will be encouraged to film their own product review and post it to Geocel’s social media channels, with the company selecting a new prizewinner every month.

FOR MORE EXAMPLES OF SUPPLIER SUPPORT FOR MERCHANTS ON THE PBM WEBSITE, ENTER THE SHORTCODE WWW.RDR.LINK/MD038

www.professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk

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PRODUCTS & SERVICES KINEDO SHOWER TRAY RANGES Kinedo from Saniflo has launched two shower tray ranges and a shower tray brochure. Firstly, the Kinerock Evo shower tray is made from Biolex and is available in square, rectangle and quadrant variants. Offered in a choice of five colours, it is 30mm thick and comes with an extra-flat waste and a metal waste cover to match the chosen tray colour. The Kineline, meanwhile, features a linear tray and a granite look and feel. Also made from Biolex and available in the same colours as Kinerock Evo, the Kineline is 26mm thick and available in square and rectangle options, with side and linear waste.

MARLEY ALUTEC HOPPER RANGE Sitting at the top of the drainpipe system, hopper solutions enable the collection of water discharged from flat roof areas through parapet openings, helping to prevent water being trapped on a roof in the event of a downpipe blockage. Building upon an existing collection, Marley Alutec has launched a new range of contemporary hoppers which are available in a choice of colours and in three sizes — standard, large and extended. An array of different outlet sizes can be accommodated, whilst bespoke options are available if required.

SIKA EVERBUILD EB25 Since its launch two years ago, Sika Everbuild claims that EB25 has secured its place as the “ultimate sealant and adhesive on the market” thanks to its flexibility to bond and seal almost any material to almost any surface. Suitable for use indoors, outdoors and even when submerged under water, EB25 is available in a choice of five colours — clear, black, white, grey and anthracite. In addition, the product also carries the EC1Plus badge which certifies it as having very low emissions and meaning it is better for the environment.

SNICKERS WORKWEAR 2021 LITEWORK The 2021 LITEWork clothing range is said to deliver thermal comfort during the warmer months with light, quick drying fabrics that will keeps the wearer cool and comfortable all day. The new range of Rip Stop shirts, for example, are described as ‘stretchy and breathable’ and offer UPF50+ sun protection. Additionally, 37.5 fabric technology in the mid-and base-layer garments have features for ‘efficient ventilation and moisture transport’ to ensure all day comfort.

ESSENTIAL BATHROOMS FRANCIS PEGLER BRASSWARE The supplier has added Francis Pegler by Essential brassware to its portfolio to complement its collection of bathroom suites. There are more than 60 SKUs in the range, offering round, square or traditional designs. Category Manager Andrew Cotterill said: “The Francis Pegler range combines style with practicality. Products are designed, developed and manufactured using the best materials available, with stringent quality control standards to ensure outstanding reliability.”

ERA WINDOW HANDLE PACKS Available in Polished Chrome, Polished Gold and White, ERA has launched a new range of Multi-Spindle Universal Window Handles. Said to offer new sales opportunities for distributors in addition to easier stockholding, the packs contain one handle and five of the most common spindle sizes to suit different profile depths from 9mm to 55mm, eliminating the need to cut them to length. Facilitating the replacement of broken and damaged handles or simply to update the appearance of a property, the handles are suitable for timber, PVC-U and aluminium casement windows, and are supplied in Euro Hook style packaging for easy stocking on ERA merchandising stands.

FOR MORE DETAILS ON THESE AND OTHER NEW PRODUCTS ON THE PBM WEBSITE, ENTER THE SHORTCODE WWW.RDR.LINK/MD039 64 PBM JULY/AUGUST 2021

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ADVERTISEMENT INDEX

Aanco (UK) Ltd t/a Made For Trade .............. page 13 Long Rake Spar Co. Ltd.................................. page 7 Blue Rock Systems Ltd ................................ page 53 Merlin Business Software Ltd........................ page 40 Bond It .......................................................... page 15 Polypipe ........................................................ page 49 Border Merchant Systems Ltd ...................... page 39 Q1 Premium Masking Solutions .................... page 22 BSW Timber Ltd .............................................. page 8 ROYD Tool Group .......................................... page 21 Buckler Boots Ltd.......................................... page 53 RWC (UK) Ltd .............................. outside back cover Builders Merchants Federation .................... page 65 Saint-Gobain Abrasives ................................ page 58 Combilift Ltd .................................................. page 56 Saniflo Ltd .................................................... page 44 Doosan Industrial Vehicle Ltd........................ page 61 Setcrete ........................................................ page 16 Everbuild Building Products Ltd...................... page 4 Stelrad Radiators .......................................... page 47 Filstorage ...................................................... page 54 Stuart Turner Ltd............................................ page 49 Gorilla Glue, Inc. ............................................ page 50 Ten-25 Software Ltd ...................................... page 37 Isuzu (UK) Ltd ................................................page 57 Toyota Material Handling UK Ltd .................. page 58 Kerridge Commercial Systems Ltd .............. page 40 Vecta Sales Solutions Ltd.............................. page 33 Keylite Roof Windows .......................... pages 34, 35 West Fraser.............................................. pages 9, 19 Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd ................ inside front cover Wickens Engineering Ltd .............................. page 54 Kyocera Senco UK .............................. pages 23 - 30

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DODGY KEEPER Having tackled the subject of goal scoring goalkeepers last month, it was quite incredible to see the trend continue with Liverpool’s Alisson powering home a bullet header in the fifth minute of injury time against West Brom in what was a must win game for the resurgent Reds’ Champions League ambitions. A story a few days later, however, reminded me that football’s mirror image phenomenon of an outfield player being forced to don the gloves and the fabled green jersey is even better to see! In a sign of the Covid-purgatory times, River Plate were apparently left with no choice but to start midfielder Enzo Perez between the sticks for a game against Independiente Santa Fe in the Copa Libertadores after a coronavirus outbreak ruled out the team’s top four keepers. The club’s request to register their fifth and sixth choices was somehow rejected… Perez was able to help his side secure a 2-1 victory and whilst I thought that an increase in matchday squad numbers had rendered the faux keeper almost extinct, it actually seems to happen rather a lot… And rather wonderfully, there’s even a Wikipedia page devoted to it! For instance, writing this on the day that Dean Henderson was forced to pull out of Euro 2020 due to an injury, Gareth Southgate could have saved the FA the price of a hotel room given that both Harry Kane and Kyle Walker have ended up ‘in nets’ in relatively recent European fixtures. Go a few years further back, the formidable England centre half duo of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand have each had a spell between the posts, whilst Neil Warnock considered Phil Jagielka to be such a decent stopper, he often neglected to name a substitute keeper on the bench “to give himself more attacking options” if and when required. Jagielka ended up in goal on four occasions! The Wikipedia page provides some great context for how these unlikely appearances happened, and even reveals that some truly awe-inspiring names have taken their turn in goal — Glenn Hoddle, Bobby Moore and even Pele among them. As a Wimbledon fan, the time when Vinnie Jones ended up filling in for the red carded Paul Heald against Newcastle at St. James’ Park in 1995 is the stuff of legend. Ever the pantomime villain, Jones bowed to the Toon Army as he took his place in goal and whilst he did concede three, two were absolute worldies. Called into action an incredible amount, Jones made some excellent saves and doubtless due to the comfortable scoreline (ultimately winning 6-1), even the Newcastle fans were cheering him on!

Check out the video on YouTube via www.rdr.link/md041

EURO FEVER HOTS UP Being played out across the continent in the stifling summer heat, even at an early stage Euro 2020 has already served up its fair share of great goals, late drama and top quality games. Writing this before the Group Stages are even close to completion, it would be crazy for me to pick a favourite for the trophy especially when so much looks like it is running to form. The big guns of France, Belgium, Italy and Portugal have all started well and as I never like to back England for fear of jinxing them, I’d be surprised if the winner doesn’t come from that quartet. Christian Eriksen’s collapse was truly shocking to see, but to focus on a rather more positive image from the tournament, how great was it to see an almost full stadium for the first time in an eternity when Hungary played Portugal? The return of fans next season just can’t come soon enough…

WE’LL BE BACK With the Premier League season due to kick off on August 14th, this is the last issue of PBM prior to the start of the new campaign. We’ll once again be running our popular FPL League (just for fun), so keep an eye out on our website and social media channels for the entry code before the season kicks off.


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Professional Builders Merchant July/August 2021  

Professional Builders Merchant July/August 2021  

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