The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has signed a group membership agreement with Allied Merchants Buying Association (AMBA), an independent merchant buying group in Ireland.

Formed in 2011, AMBA is said to be the fastest growing merchant buying group in Ireland, encompassing 17 members with 85 outlets, and an annual spend of €130m on building materials, plumbing and heating goods, and timber products. The total turnover of members is around €230m. All 17 AMBA members joined the BMF on 1 December, 2017.

Welcoming AMBA members, John Newcomb, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BMF, said: “While the BMF has always had the ability within its constitution to extend its reach into Ireland, strategically the impetus to join had to come from Irish merchants. When AMBA made its request, we were delighted to respond and look forward to providing our full range of training and support services to its members. We are very excited at the prospect of developing our alliance and extending our core membership benefits to AMBA’s members.”

Explaining why AMBA has joined the BMF, Keith Giblin, CEO of the buying group, said: “AMBA’s fundamental purpose is as a low cost, highly professional group with strategically placed members working with partner suppliers. Our buying group has grown rapidly since its inception, successfully ensuring we defend and grow our members’ competitive position, profitability and market share by working together.

“We are continually focussed on adding further value to our members and an alliance with the BMF offers numerous opportunities to enhance our members’ businesses. Foremost among these is the BMF’s approach to recruitment, which is helping to attract and develop talented people within the merchant industry.”

Brexit is another factor in AMBA’s desire to create a strong link with the BMF as an international trade association. Dennis O’Connor, Chairman of the AMBA, said: “We have three aims for our ongoing relationship with the BMF: alliance, recruitment and awareness. Our market is somewhat reliant on the UK, and with the countdown to Brexit well underway, it is essential to draw closer to a Federation that represents merchants and building materials suppliers operating in the UK in order to develop a greater awareness and understanding of the issues on both sides.”

Peter Hindle MBE, Chairman of the BMF, added: “Many building materials producers administer the UK and Ireland as one commercial region, and it is likely that this will continue beyond Brexit. It is strategically important for the BMF to continue to develop its links with European trade bodies, such as UFEMAT and FEST, in order to support existing members in the UK, as well as our latest members in Ireland. I look forward to welcoming AMBA into membership.”

The addition of AMBA’s members increases the number of BMF merchant members to 337, operating from over 5,000 branches throughout the UK and Ireland. As of 1 December, the BMF’s total membership, including supplier and service members, now stands at 640. Together, BMF merchant and supplier companies have combined sales of £28 billion, and employ 123,000 people in the building materials industry.

Pictured: Left-to right: Dennis O'Connor (AMBA Chairman) and Keith Giblin (AMBA CEO), John Newcomb (BMF CEO), and Peter Hindle MBE (BMF Chairman).