Two of the most influential leaders in the builders’ merchant industry will speak at the BMF Young Merchants Conference in October.

Andrew Harrison, Deputy CEO – Plumbing and Heating at Travis Perkins, and David Kilburn, Executive Chairman of MKM Building Supplies, will each give presentations at the event’s Industry Forum and then take part in a Q&A session.

Both men have a lifetime’s experience in merchanting and pivotal roles in the industry, one with the UK’s leading merchant group and the other chairing the country’s largest independent.

Harrison (pictured) started his merchant career in 1980 as a management trainee with Graham Reeves, part of the Graham Group, in Cornwall. Following branch and area management roles, he moved to Sharpe & Fisher as Operations Director, helping to grow the business to 38 branches prior to its acquisition by Travis Perkins in 1999.

Harrison was then Managing Director at CCF, Benchmarx Kitchens and Joinery, and Keyline before becoming Divisional Chief Operating Officer at Travis Perkins General Merchanting Division in 2013, with responsibility for Travis Perkins, Benchmarx, Managed Services and Toolhire. He took up his current role in June 2017.

Kilburn started his career 50 years ago with Crossley Building Products in Teeside before joining the Graham Group, now part of Jewsons. He set up his first business in Scarborough in the 1980s and sold it soon afterwards, joining Harcros Timber and Building Supplies. Ten years later he was made redundant, spurring him to form MKM Building Supplies, which opened its first branch in Hull in 1995. Today MKM is the UK's largest independent merchant, with 52 branches and revenue in excess of £350 million.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO, said: “We are delighted to welcome two of our industry’s current leaders to take part in our first Young Merchants Conference, which takes the theme Building for the Future. The industry has changed dramatically in the last 30 years and is likely to change even more dramatically in the next. Our conference programme brings together expert opinion from our own industry and beyond, as well as providing opportunities for delegates to challenge and debate current issues both in the Industry Forum Q&A and during a further panel session.”

The BMF Young Merchants Conference is at the NEC on 11 October, during UK Construction Week. It is free of charge to current members of the BMF Young Merchants group and is also open to anyone aged between 21 and 40, working in the building material supply industry, for a small fee.

For full details and registration information please contact