Terry Parker: sweeping changes will make BMF relevant to all merchants.

BMF to undergo radical rehaul

Published:  01 December, 2011

LONDON: The Builders’ Merchants Federation is to make wide-reaching changes to its structure in order to meet the current demands and requirements of the market it serves.

“We have listened to you – our members and following a period of enquiry and reflection the BMF board has put together a dynamic and robust roadmap strategy in order to take the Federation forward positively with immediate effect,” said national chairman Terry Parker.

The results of the BMF survey reported that members value BMF’s training services and apprenticeship offerings and want the Federation to continue to provide specific member services that assist the successful development of merchants’ businesses.

Members also voted for BMF to continue its lobbying with the UK Government but to cease its involvement with the EU. “Our members require us to work closely with other organisations like the Construction Products Association and to share information to increase our influence, but reduce or eliminate involvement with organisations who have little relevance to the industry,” Mr Parker explained.

Members, he said, genuinely valued the majority of the business support services which the Federation offers.

Other comments received were that BMF subscription charges were too high and that the organisation’s headquarters in London’s Soho Square had served its purpose and that London was not the correct location for the organisaition. BMF, members said, also needed a definitive identity and strategy.

“Most of all, our members wanted the BMF to provide better value for money and to become THE voice of the industry,” said Mr Parker.

“The new board has taken the results of the survey, together with the opinions and views of leading industry figures and the footprint already provided by previous board members to act positively, decisively and quickly in order to present an organisation 'fit for purpose' as we enter 2012.”

He added that following a number of strategy meetings the board had formulated a plan which will:

  • Reduce the cost base.
  • Address the organisation’s legal status.
  • Sub-contract its training provision.
  • Streamline and redefine its output and services provision.
  • Provide for a move away from its current location.
  • Reduce subscription charges.

Mr Parker pointed out that some changes will take a period of time to implement fully.

“We have a number of details still to complete,” he said. “However the time is right for us to share with our vision of the immediate future with the profound hope that it will reignite the enthusiasm for the BMF throughout the industry.”

Subscriptions will be reduced for the year commencing April 2012 by at least 30% for merchant members and the scales will be made more transparent.

Longer-term it is planned to provide a further large reduction, dependant on the increase in membership.

  • The BMF will continue to offer 'business support' and EDI services.
  • It will retreat, for the time being, from EU involvement and lobbying.
  • It will offer the apprentice scheme as planned through the Didac Training Agency and increase the training offerings under its guidance.

BMF will dispose of Soho Square and relocate to and reinvest in the Midlands – nearer to the centre of merchant activity. To maintain a small and more cost-effective presence in London to assist the Federation’s policy manager as well as providing a base for visiting staff and members for meetings and 'hot desking'.

It will work closely with the Construction Products Association and other organisations including Unimer and NMBS for potential collaborative initiatives.

BMF also pledged to maintain a public relations presence and develop relevant, cost-conscious initiatives that will help to preserve and develop members’ business.

In addition, it will continue to keep all members informed of relevant activities and grow the membership to cover the majority of UK merchants.

“With the amount of proposed and active changes, there have unfortunately been some cumulative effects,” Mr Parker said.

“Our managing director, Chris Pateman, is unable to relocate or commute to the Midlands and will take voluntary redundancy and leaves us at the end of December 2011,” Mr Parker announced.

“The board would like to take this opportunity to thank Chris for his hard work over the last five years in taking the BMF forward during extremely testing economic conditions.”

In the short-term, Mr Parker said he would cover the role with the assistance of BMF secretary Peter Matthews on a part-time basis until a new MD could be found.

Mr Matthews confirmed that he will continue to work for BMF for a period of time after the move to ensure continuity within the business.

Other staff members may not be able to relocate and would leave the Federation during 2012.

“Services may possibly be disrupted over the coming months, as we prepare for the move and the implementation of changes,” Mr Parker explained.

All this would, he said, create “a new BMF that is in good shape has energy, commitment to members' interests and is ready to address the issues of the day for the entire industry”.

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