The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is now offering members a new Senior Manager Development course that will award a Postgraduate Diploma in Merchant Leadership & Strategy, in partnership with Birmingham City University.

The 12-month course will start in October 2014. It is open to senior managers working in either merchant or supplier BMF member companies, and successful candidates will be able to progress directly onto a Masters Degree in Merchant Leadership & Strategy, requiring a further year of part-time study.

Entry to the Postgraduate Diploma does not necessarily require a degree level academic qualification, as credit will be given to the candidate’s working experience. Candidates must have a minimum of five years working experience in a merchant, distributor or manufacturing operation, with at least two years in a managerial position. The formal pre-selection procedure will include both a written submission and interview.

The course involves 14 workshop days combined with self-study covering five modules: Strategy and Branding, Leading Service and Change, Finance and Business Models, Operational Improvement and Innovation, and a final In-Company project and report.

This inaugural course is being sponsored by the Builders Merchants Training Trust, which has agreed to subsidise the £5,500 cost by 50% this year.

BMF managing director John Newcomb said: “Our aim is to offer courses that not only develop wide-ranging management skills, but which also do so within a merchanting context. This is an exciting opportunity for senior managers, that complements our existing Diploma and Foundation Degree courses for junior managers and those aspiring to management roles. While the Postgraduate Diploma is a first for the BMF, Birmingham City University has wide experience of running similar courses for other industries, and more particularly for Jewson.

“I am particularly pleased that candidates who successfully complete this course will be able to challenge themselves further and move directly onto study for a Masters Degree in Merchant Leadership and Strategy. It demonstrates the maturity of our industry and will help us attract and retain the best talent.”

Stephen Willson, Postgraduate Diploma course director at Birmingham City University, added: "We are delighted to have been selected by the BMF to provide the Postgraduate Diploma in Merchant Leadership & Strategy. Delivering industry-specific bespoke courses is at the heart of our policy and practice and has been proven to result in sales and profit improvement and reduced employee turnover. Such an impact is key to organisations that operate locally in an increasingly competitive, complex and regulated environment’."

Applications for the Postgraduate Diploma will be open until 30 April 2014.