Two well-known industry names - Andrew Pine and Mike Rigby - have got together to provide builders’ merchants with a complete solution for strategy and business development, new formats and branch improvement.

The new service extends from advice and support on strategy, business models and marketing to complete turn-key project management.

“Builders’ merchants have probably never had so many big opportunities and serious challenges occurring at the same time,” said Mr Rigby. “Branding and marketing are coming into their own, but the pace of change is accelerating. Smartphones and online trading have increased complexity and expanded merchants’ reach.”

Mr Pine added: “Strong growth on top of a long recession means most merchants are running lean and don’t have the spare senior resource to investigate the opportunities and challenges, or implement significant improvements or new developments to capitalise on them. That’s where we come in.”

Mr Pine has had extensive regional director experience at Travis Perkins, Jewson, and MKM Building Supplies where he was responsible for branch openings and branch support. He was president of the Institute of Builders’ Merchants from 2011 to 2013, and recently worked with Howarth Timber Group to remodel a purchased branch.

Mr Rigby learned about branding and marketing at Dulux Paints, and was head of marketing at a national builders’ merchant before it was acquired. He progressed to senior management in the window industry. His company, MRA Marketing, is a full service marketing agency with over 20 years’ experience in helping companies grow. Last year Mr Rigby spoke at the All-Industry Conference in Tenerife and gave a well-attended master class recently on Marketing and Merchandising at the BMF’s January Branch Managers’ Forum.

MRA was in the headlines in 2014 with a project to help customer EH Smith recover lost collect share, grow its collect business and establish a model that could be successfully implemented across the branch network. Describing what it achieved, Mark Mallinder, EH Smith’s marketing director, said: “The business has seen a sustained 24% increase in small builder revenue giving us a growth map for the next 10 years.”

Between them, Mr Pine and Mr Rigby provide advice and practical help on strategy, marketing, merchandising, business development and project management through their existing businesses, Merchant Development Solutions and MRA Marketing, respectively.