A new buying group has been born. The Independent Plumbing Group (IPG) was launched on 2 January with just a few members and suppliers, but is already building fast.

“We are pleased with the level of interest that has been expressed by merchants and suppliers alike,” said Robin Beal, managing director. Mr Beal, now starting his 28th year in the industry, has worked for two suppliers, a merchant, and more recently as trading director for Unimer.

The idea for the group, which will be focusing exclusively on plumbing and heating, came following discussions with various merchants. Joining Mr Beal is Jim Dore, who has taken up the position of director of sales. Mr Dore also has a wealth of industry experience, having worked for a supplier and Unimer as well.

“This is an exciting experience and we are being very well received as we make our way around the country calling on potential members,” he said.

The website only went live at Christmas and has already generated a lot of interest.

Along with a small admin team, the group has also benefited from the support of Tony Dark, who is working with the group to help develop the heating supply base. Mr Dark was recently at Omega Flex (TracPipe) and has previously worked for CORGI.

Industry comments

“As an independent, we are excited by the concept of the IPG and the benefits it can bring to us, both as individuals and collectively to all independent merchants,” said Andrew Lunn, managing director and owner of S.A. Lunn in Farnborough. “All independents are disadvantaged to a greater or lesser extent by the large groups and I see the IPG as one of our best chances of levelling the playing field. It’s early days, but I have already noticed a difference. IPG put the deal on the table and let me decide: this is the way independents want it.”

Stewart Norris, managing director at Floplast, said: “IPG already has the foundations and experience to deliver a great package to its members. Our decision to partner them was instant and an opportunity not to be missed.”

Andrew Surtees, sales director at Mueller Primaflow, added: “I have personally conducted business with Robin Beal for many years and in all that time he has operated in an extremely professional manner, putting honesty and integrity at the top of his agenda. He understands the mechanics of the market and the opportunities for profit in the supply chain.

“I believe he will adopt these principles within IPG and the members of the new group, together with the approved suppliers, will benefit from this knowledge.”