With sustained growth being experienced throughout the construction sector, merchants from across the UK gathered earlier this month at the 20th Independent Builders’ Merchant Forum (IBMF) hosted by Ibstock, to garner advice on capitalising on the growth opportunity and share opinions on continuing the upward trend.

The annual forum gave almost 100 merchants the opportunity to hear about the latest innovations from Ibstock including design, technical, customer service and marketing support, as well as hearing about new products in the range.

Merchants were also given an exclusive first glimpse of Ibstock’s new brickworks in Leicester - the result of a £54 million investment by the manufacturer. The state-of-the-art site, which opens later this year, is set to bring an additional 100 million bricks to the market every year (enough to build 15,000 houses), and will play a crucial role in ensuring merchants and their customers have the bricks they need, when they need them.

The event also saw the launch of the Collington Blend, the latest product to be added to Ibstock’s design portfolio. Manufactured at the company’s Ashdown site, the new stock, sandfaced brick strengthens the existing range, which is popular with merchants and their customers.

Merchants were also able to gain valuable industry insight from new Director of Sales – Builders Merchants, Simon Taylor, who presented an in-depth analysis of the current growth of the RMI market, before hosting question and answer sessions later in the day. Further sessions with Ibstock’s customer service team explored how the business can further support the bespoke needs of independent merchants.

Commenting on the event Simon said: “It was great to see so many merchants attend our 20th Forum. The overarching theme for the day was ‘The Ibstock Difference’ to demonstrate the ways in which we are continually investing to deliver the products, services and solutions our customers require.

“We are experiencing strong growth across the construction sector, and a large part of this success is thanks to merchants. The key areas of self-build and repairs and maintenance play a significant role in our continued growth, and it is therefore vital that we work to support merchants and their customers; whether through marketing, technical literature, brick supply, expert specification or stocking advice. The key message coming out of the Forum is for merchants to discuss their requirements with us so we can continue to work with them as they build their operations and ensure demand is met.”