The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) starts 2014 with membership at a five year high. In January, membership exceeded the 400 mark for the first time since 2009, now standing at 425.

This comprises 275 merchants and 113 suppliers, with the balance made up of distributor, service and affiliate members.

Member numbers have grown by over 100 in the last 12 months, with the largest growth being in merchant numbers, which have increased from 176 to 275. Much of the growth has been driven by the major buying groups, four of whom – IBC, NBC, PHG and LIMA – entered new collective membership agreements last year.

Merchant members are now spread across a broad range of types, from nationals and large independent buying groups to smaller independent outlets, and from generalist merchants to timber, plumbing and heating specialists.  Fifteen of the top 20 UK merchants are now members, compared to just 12 of the biggest merchants 18 months ago.

BMF's 425 member companies together have combined sales in excess of £12bn and employ over 75,000 people.  BMF’s 275 merchant members operate in excess of 2,300 branches throughout the UK.

BMF managing director, John Newcomb, said: "This is a great start to the year and a real demonstration that our objective of supporting members with commercial initiatives, education and training and by representing their views with policy makers is winning hearts and minds. We are not resting on our laurels.  Our ambition for 2014 is to reach 500 members.  The more of the industry we represent, the stronger our voice will be in the wider construction industry and among national and local policy makers."