Allan Durning, President of the IoBM, said he expects some members to vote against its proposed merger with the BMF.

However, he says he feels the move will be good for them in the long term.

In an exclusive interview with BMN, he said: “Understandably there is a degree of resistance to the merge because of long-held views about the importance of being independent and not being consumed by another organisation. But, inevitably, everything gets consumed by something, and that consumption makes it a better organisation. The BMF is a larger corporate organisation, so it was always going to win the battle, and it did.

“I believe that the IoBM would be better served inside the BMF and that it would give it a new raison d’e ̂tre. The new alliance will combine looking after the corporate interests of members with nurturing their professional development.”

Durning believes the merger will be positive for both organisations as members will have access to more resources and funding for academic development courses, such as the Foundation Degree in Merchanting at the University of the West Midlands. He said: “There is a lot of money available for people to apply for. We will have a new offering of grants and bursaries for members, to help them validate their professional status in the industry.

“I would like to see the legacy that the IoBM leaves behind to be money being spent on the builders’ merchant degree, which is a fabulous opportunity. Trade degrees are vitally important for having a vibrant economy.”

The IoBM has existed for 50 years, but has been struggling to contend with organisations such as Travis Perkins and Grafton, which bought up independents and offered their own training for staff. They offered a range of benefits such as healthcare and travel, which the IoBM could not offer as it did not have the same resources or staff and its governors are volunteers. Because of this, IoBM membership had fallen, which is why Durning proposed it merged with the BMF. The IoBM’s headquarters have already been inside the BMF’s Coventry base for the last two years.

At the IoBM’S next AGM, on Wednesday 20 June, its 200+ members will vote on whether the merger goes through. Durning said that he will step down as President if the majority vote against it.