The Institute of Builders Merchants (IoBM) is in talks to merge with the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF).

Current members of the BMF and the IoBM will be consulted on the proposed merger. IoBM members will vote at its AGM in June and Allan Durning, President, is urging them to approve the change.

The BMF will be speaking to its Young Merchant Group about the proposal at its meeting on Thursday 22 March and will survey all its members as well.

There has been a decline in IoBM membership over the past few years, and the Institute has attributed it to the rise of national merchants, companies being less focused on individualism and therefore less likely to take advantage of the IoBM’s training initiatives, and the increase in the number of buying groups and industry societies.

Allan said: “We went from having thousands and thousands of members and now we have dropped down to a hundred. Then we thought, how do you arrest that decline, how do you push the agenda back on the tracks so you can start moving forward again? So the plan is to merge with the BMF.”

The BMF board has discussed the plan but it has not made a decision. John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “The decision, first and foremost, has to be made by the members and then by the board.”

The IoBM’s focus has been on training and developing individual skills in the industry. However other organisations, like the BMF, have started to introduce training or apprenticeship schemes as well.

The IoBM is still able to provide support for training. Allan said: “Money is not the problem and there is still thousands of pounds available for people to use for training.” However, he says there is a lack of communication from the IoBM to merchants to tell them it is available for them.

The IoBM was created by the National Federation of Builders and Plumbers Merchants, now the BMF, and the Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants in 1968.

John said: “From a personal point of view, I believe there is a need for an Institute. It was actually set up by the BMF, so it is a bit like a prodigal son returning to its parents, and like all parents, we can either embrace them with open arms or say to them it is too late now.”

The potential merge with the BMF was announced during the IoBM’s anniversary dinner at the House of Commons on 8 March.