A new 18-tonne crane lorry is based on site at Blanchford's Wallingford branch.

Blanchford Building Supplies turns 75

Published:  29 April, 2013

This year, Oxfordshire-based timber and builders’ merchant Blanchford Building Supplies celebrates its 75th anniversary.

The company was incorporated in 1938 by three Blanchford brothers: Fred, Cecil and Ronald. After growing the business from small beginnings in a shop in Queens Street, Oxford, they relocated to Headington where the business has been based ever since. A second branch in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire soon followed, and a third depot was opened in Wallingford last June.

Today, the company is headed by managing director Adrian Smith and supported by finance director Peter Cutmore and purchasing director John Hayden, who recently talked to Construction Industry News about a range of subjects including the addition of the latest depot and how the 75 years of operation have been achieved.

“Providing the best possible service has been ingrained into our company ethos for many years and in the rare event that we make a mistake we rectify it immediately,” Mr Hayden outlined. “As we enjoy a low turnover of staff, some of which have been with us for over 20 years, our 80-strong workforce all know exactly what kind of approach they need to take and this stability has been crucial to the high quality and consistency of service that we’re able to provide. We also carry out a great deal of product training so that our teams are well versed with the latest additions to our range and can relay this knowledge onto the customer.”

Blanchford has been looking to replicate its successful formula at its latest branch. The new depot complements Blanchford’s existing branches, accommodating both delivered and collected sales, and there are three vehicles – including a new 18-tonne crane lorry – based on site.

Of the new branch, Mr Hayden explained: “We’d reached a crossroads where we could either contract the business or expand it. After choosing the expansion option we began to look at prospective sites and decided to proceed with the Wallingford branch because its location in south Oxfordshire gave us the opportunity to target the outskirts of Reading and other surrounding areas such as Henley-on-Thames.

“We have been slightly cocooned from the difficulties that some have experienced because Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire are quite affluent areas and local residents continue to have money to spend. Despite this I wouldn’t say that the marketplace is particularly easy, as there remains a tremendous amount of competition in this area.”

Blanchford is planning to celebrate its 75th anniversary by inviting around 200 of its top customers to a small tradeshow, with a venue yet to be confirmed. Looking further ahead, Mr Hayden said: “To be honest 2013 will be as tough as the past few years, although hopefully it may ease up a little towards the end of the year. Our immediate priority is to get the Wallingford site operating to its full potential in what remain challenging circumstances. We are a company that does not typically carry out much marketing but we have been doing some advertising on local radio to help raise awareness of the site and what it can offer. Once we’ve got Wallingford performing at the desired level we will then be looking to add a fourth depot to our portfolio.”

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