Industry News

BMF launches free Branch Finder app

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has launched an new Branch locator app that will help customers and tradesmen find the nearest builders merchant outlet across the whole UK.

Available free of charge on Apple iOS and Android, the app enables to search by the merchant’s name, products sold or current location. It uses GPS tracking and geolocation functionality to display a list of the nearest outlets.

BMF MD, John Newcomb commented: “This is the only free app providing information and direct access to thousands of builders merchants throughout the country.  Many tradesmen rely on their smartphone to contact merchants and order materials. This will be a real help when they are working on site, particularly when they are away from their usual merchants. As there is no cost involved, I would urge everyone to download the app today, so it is ready on your smartphone when you need it.”

The BMF Branch Locator App can be freely downloaded at or via Apple and Android app stores.


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BMF comment on Budget Statement: "No real action to tackle housing issue"

John Newcomb, Managing Director of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) commented yesterday Budget Statement saying that "unlike previous announcements, George Osborne did not concentrate on changes aimed at housing and the home improvement trade."

“The Chancellor reaffirmed his wish to simplify and speed up planning permission to increase housing completions and at a faster rate. With the Housing and Planning Bill currently before parliament, we are lobbying ministers to maintain the momentum to narrow the gap between housing demand & supply. More supply-side efforts are crucial to shorten the time it takes builders to start onsite and accelerate the number of homes completed", Mr Newcomb added.

Whilst not perfect, Mr Newcomb said the statement presents some improvements: “For most BMF businesses, specific tax changes ought to help both merchants and their trade customers. Future cuts in Corporation Tax and abolishing National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed are very welcome", Mr Newcomb said.

“Easing the rules on Capital Allowances and a promise to look again at qualifying energy-efficiency and water-saving technologies will also be welcomed by the businesses we represent."

“On Business Rates, switching the annual indexation from RPI to CPI, moving to more frequent revaluations, and further administrative simplification are positive steps on the way to fundamental reform of the rating system. But Mr Osborne still has a major change to make - his treatment of firms that invest in plant & machinery. He wants them to modernise and be more productive but manufacturers are penalised because their investment is reflected immediately in the rateable value of premises. This cannot be right", Mr Newcomb concluded.


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BMF to have exhibition Pavilion at UK Construction Week 2016

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) will have its own branded Pavilion at the UK Construction Week 2016, to take place at the NEC Birmingham from 18-23 October  2016.

The BMF Pavilion will be sited across the Build Show and HVAC areas of the exhibition, which features nine separate shows in total, including Grand Designs Live.

John Newcomb, BMF Managing Director, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to bring merchants and suppliers together to find out more about the latest products and new technology and building techniques coming on stream. When I joined the industry I was surprised that it had not had a major exhibition to showcase the latest trends for a number of years. Now UK Construction Week has filled that gap. By working with a broad range of industry associations, like the BMF, the organisers are making the event relevant to as many people as possible, giving them multiple reasons to attend.”

Nathan Garnett, Event Director, UK Construction Week commented: “We are delighted to be working with the BMF. The first edition of UK Construction Week in 2015 attracted 500 merchants. With the help of the BMF we believe we can multiply this number greatly. We are committed to making UK Construction Week the largest collection of innovative exhibitors, products, new buildings, materials and techniques. Working with industry experts, associations and thought leaders, including the BMF, is a crucial element of that intent.”

BMF members taking exhibition space within the BMF Pavilion will benefit from a substantial 25% discount.

For further information, or to reserve a place in the BMF area, it is possible to contact [email protected] or [email protected].

BMF warns Merchants: 'Many companies risk to lose out on Apprentice Levy'

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has warned merchants not to lose out on Apprentice Levy. As revealed in teh Autumn Statement, companies with a payroll of more than £3m will have to pay 0.5 per cent of staff spending via PAYE to fund the system. The more apprentices companies take on, the more training will be available to them – in the form of digital vouchers. Nonetheless they will have to pay the levy whether or not they take on any apprentices.

BMF MD John Newcomb said: “The Apprenticeship Levy is designed to ensure that businesses invest in skills and training, which should be a good thing, but we are concerned that some merchants will miss out. The Levy will not only affect national merchants. Many regional groups and larger independents with more than 150 mployees will find themselves in the payroll bracket required to pay the Levy.”

Mr Newcomb's comment followed a survey conducted among BMF members reporting that, while just over half (51%) of the companies employ at least one apprentice, almost as many (49%) have neither current apprentices nor plans to take on an apprentice in the future.

The BMF estimates that its members will be recruiting around 1,000 apprentices over the next two years.  Over a third of members surveyed use the BMF Apprenticeship Scheme provided by Didac and specifically designed to deliver trained apprentices in the merchant industry. Others, mainly larger merchants, operate their own in-house schemes.

“Responses to our survey lead us to believe that up to a third of our merchant members may be liable to pay the Levy. If they don’t invest in the future of the industry and regularly employ apprentices in their own business, their hard earned cash will go to fund the training of apprentices in other industries. This is not a situation that anyone in the industry wants to see", Mr Newcomb, added.

"The Apprenticeship Levy should not be viewed as an extra tax on employment, but a real incentive for merchants to take on apprentices and invest in the next generation.  However, the Levy must not be used to replace public funding for secondary education".

BMF seeks Ambassadors for youth recruitment campaign across UK

The Builders Merchant Federation (BMF) will recruit at least 20 Ambassadors within its members to support the national youth recruitment campaign 'Builders Merchants Careers'.

Ambassadors will help to promote the opportunities offered by the industry to students and young job-seekers throughout the country. They will support BMF campaign with visits to local schools, colleges and Jobcentres, presentations at local careers fairs; they will also give interviews to local media and rule targeted social media campaigns.

John Newcomb, BMF MD said: “The Builders Merchants Careers campaign is the industry’s driving force to attract more young people into the sector and help builders merchants and suppliers to continue to invest in the next generation.  The new Ambassadors have a key role to play to promote the range of opportunities the industry offers, from first job roles all the way to the board room, to meet young peoples’ aspirations at every level.”

"Ideally we would like to begin the Campaign with at least 20 Ambassadors, with two coming from each of the ten BMF regions", Mr Newcomb added.

For more information about supporting the campaign as a BMF Ambassador, please contact June Upton at [email protected].