Builders Merchants Federation Chief Executive, John Newcomb, met with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy this morning (Tuesday 24 March) after pressing for clarity regarding the opening and shutting of builders’ merchants.

Below is the statement the BMF received:

Last night (Monday 23 March), the Government announced additional restrictions that would apply to business and individuals to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

These restrictions specify that people should work from home where this is possible, but also states that where this is not possible, people can continue to work as normal, while observing Public Health England guidelines.

Construction and manufacturing operations are given as examples of workplaces where people cannot work from home. The guidance also states that retailers can continue to operate where this is essential, for example providing food and other essential items, and that online and delivery operations involving limited contact can also continue.

Builders’ merchants are a vital part of the construction supply chain. It is important that they continue to support the industry to operate on sites, especially where it is undertaking essential work, and also to continue to provide the link between product manufacturers and the firms and tradespeople that use and install the products they make. To ensure we can continue to operate. we are advising our members that:

  • Builders’ merchants should continue to operate, and to provide a key service to their customers, but do this taking account of the guidance provided by PHE
  • Online and delivery services can operate as normal, although drivers should seek to follow advice on social distancing, and avoid close contact with customers
  • Where firms operate stores, they should consider how to manage ordering and collection systems and store operations to observe PHE guidance, including social distancing, and on cleaning and hygiene, including of staff welfare facilities, to minimise the risks of transmitting COVID-19; and
  • Merchants open to the public should consider whether to continue to allow this during the period when restrictions are in place, and if this is necessary, should consider restrictions on the number of people in their stores at any one time, and how to improve cleaning and hygiene within stores to minimise the risk of transmitting COVID-19.


BMF COVID-19 online hub

In response to the COVID-19 situation, the BMF has created an online hub of information for you to refer to. This sets out the BMF position and what we are doing for our members at this time.

The page feature video updates, from Newcomb, that will be posted regularly along with the information many of our members have been wanting. There are also opportunities to share experiences and insight, so everyone can work together to get the best outcomes during this time. 

To view the first BMF video briefing, visit the COVID-19 page by clicking