Leading Lights 5/5

Published:  16 November, 2011

Merchants under £25m turnover

1 JT Dove
Cumbria and the Scottish Borders   
Turnover 2010: £24.6m (2009: £24.6m
Chief executive: Steve Robinson
Tel: 0191 229 5020
Stock: 70% heavyside, 30% lightside
Number of branches: 18
Affiliations: BMF, NMBS, NBG, Unimer.
JT Dove acquired Timber and Building Supplies in Boldon and opened plumbing and heating units in Teesside and Hexham. Steve Robinson, chief
executive, said: “We now have 11
timber and building material branches, five plumbing and heating branches, one specialist timber branch and one insulation branch. We re-sited our main branches of Newcastle and Stockton in 2009 to new purpose-built depots and both branches have matured well in the last year. Our branch network is now well positioned to take advantage of any upturn.
“The year was hampered by three months of the worst winter weather on record. However, after a slow start in 2010 we saw like for like growth
figures of 16% in the second half of the year, excluding December. Our plumbing and heating businesses matured and gave a full contribution and we
are confident the sales growth will continue into 2011.”

2 Beggs and Partners
Belfast, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland
Turnover 2010: £20.35m
(2009: £22.55m)
Chief executive: Geoff Meldrum
Tel: 028 9023 5791
Stock: 100% lightside (plumbing)
Branches: 5
Affiliations: BMF, CBA, Cemco, CPA, H&B, NBG, NMBS, WBM, Unimer.
Beggs and Partners, a locally-owned and locally-managed regional merchant, marked 50 years of trading in 2010. Geoff Meldrum, chief
executive, said it was a “difficult year
trading-wise, with all business areas under pressure.
“This reflects a challenging
property market and the public sector preparing for reduced spending: there is a distinct lack of major projects in the public and private sectors,” he said. “Our outlook for 2011 remains
cautious, though we hope things will
bottom out in 2011.
“Cost control was a priority in 2010 and our headcount had to be
addressed again. Our balance sheet
improved in 2010 and remains strong,” he said.

3 Beatsons Building Supplies
Location: Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Turnover 2010: £16m (2009: £15.4m)
Chief executive: John Marshall Jr
Tel: 01259 219555
Stock: 60% heavyside, 40% lightside
Number of branches: 5
Affiliations: BMF, H&B, NMBS, Unimer.
Beatsons Building Supplies, one of Scotland’s independent builders’
merchants, has branches covering
central Scotland. Beatsons Building Supplies has two trading divisions: Beatsons Building Supplies, a general builders’ merchant, and Skyline Roofing Supplies, a specialist roofing and roofline merchant. It also sells DIY and gardening products which it says are not found at many of its competitors.
It provides a next-day delivery
service to sites. Director Mark Northway, said: “Despite difficult trading conditions, the company managed to improve its turnover while maintaining gross margin levels and increasing net profit for the year ended 31 July 2010.”
The company continues to be
“cautiously optimistic for the year ahead”.

4 Plumbcity
Location: Colchester
Turnover 2010: £15.1m (2009: £12.4m)
Managing director: Steve Wimbledon
Tel: 01206 870270
Stock: 100% lightside
Number of branches: 9
Affiliations: Cemco, NMBS, Unimer.
Plumbcity is a privately-owned
independent plumbers’ merchant that began trading in 2003 with branches
in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Braintree, Clacton, Norwich, Sudbury, Cambridge and opened a new branch in Bishops Stortford in March.
It also has a high-end bathroom showroom in Colchester trading under the name Gallery Bathrooms.
Managing director Steve Wimbledon said: “2010 was a year that showed considerable growth for us when compared with 2009. Margins were under pressure, but the gain in contribution from the increased turnover, resulted in it being successful.
“We do not chase down contracts, preferring to offer the professional
installer a service that cannot be
rivalled by our competitors.
“Price will always be a key driver in a market where sales are under pressure, but offering a service has its value and ensures that we are always in the mix when our customers weigh up where they want to spend their money on materials.
“Being an active member of the Cemco buying group, brings with it an environment where we are able to trade ideas with other regional merchants and collectively have a voice that the blue chip brand suppliers want to talk to,” he said.

5 Chandlers Building Supplies
Ringmer, East Sussex
Turnover 2010: £14.87m
(2009: £14.99m)
Managing director: Andrew Cope
Tel: 01273 815100
Stock: 15% heavyside, 85% lightside
Number of branches: 7
Affiliations: Cemco, NMBS, Unimer.
Chandlers Building Supplies is a family-owned independent builders’ merchant based in Ringmer, East
Predominantly a heavyside
business, Chandlers also operates a specialist roofing supplies distribution branch.
Andrew Cope, managing director, said: “2010 was for CBS, as for the rest of the industry, a challenging year.
Despite this, overall performance
improved on 2009 as activity in all
sectors increased.

“The main highlight for CBS in 2010 was the setting up of a separate
specialist roofing distribution business trading as Chandlers Roofing Supplies. The first branch was opened in November in Halesowen in the
West Midlands and plans exist to
develop and grow this business further in the future.”

6 George Bence & Sons
Location: Cheltenham,
Turnover 2010: £11m (2009: £10m)
Chief executive: Chris Bence
Managing director: Paul Bence
Tel: 01242 237241
Stock: 65% heavyside, 35% lightside
Number of branches: 2
Affiliations: Cemco, NMBS, UK Green Building Council, Unimer.
Bence & Sons, an independent
family-owned business formed in 1854, is a general builders’ merchant with a luxury award-winning retail showroom called Obsidian.
Recent accolades include Showroom of the Year, Best Customer
Service by a Builders’ Merchant and Trainee of the Year at the Builders’ Merchants Awards for Excellence.
Based in the heart of the Cotswolds, the merchant’s 18 vehicles service a 50-mile radius from its headquarters in Cheltenham.
Paul Bence, managing director of the company, said: “2010 has been
a tough year for the construction
industry, however it has allowed us to
restructure our business in a format whereby we are in an much improved position moving into 2011 and beyond.
“Future expansion plans will the key to our success and the template has been put in place to enable us to achieve our company goals.”

7 Duftons Plumbing & Heating
West Yorkshire
Turnover 2010: £6.89m (2009: £5.33m)
Chief executive: Nigel Fowler
Tel: 0113 2467211
Stock: 100% lightside
Number of branches: 3
Affiliations: Cemco, NMBS, Unimer.
Duftons is family-owned and has traded for 25 years. In November 2009 it opened a third depot in Huddersfield now trading successfully “thanks
to the skill and commitment of the branch staff,” said chief executive, Nigel Fowler.
8 TBS Building Supplies
Daventry, Northamptonshire
Turnover 2010: £6.63m
(2009: £6.119m)
Chief executive: Ray Gunn
Tel: 013727 877378
Stock: 70% heavyside, 30% lightside
Branches: 3
TBS is an established independent builders’ merchant with three depots, selling and delivering to Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Buckinghamshire. The company serves the trade and DIY in three main areas:
general building; heating and plumbing; kitchens and bathrooms.
TBS prides itself on offering a friendly service and a family atmosphere (staff and regular customers are on first-name terms).
It has an award-winning website which the company is developing. It is keen to innovate and look for ways to expand its product range and
Although the economic climate has hit the building trade hard, TBS sales remained stable in 2010. Particularly encouraging was the increase in kitchen and bathroom sales. The addition of a bespoke plumbing counter at the Daventry depot has significantly raised trade sales.
A third depot was opened in August at Southam, Warwickshire which, said the company, is establishing itself as a valued part of the local economy. There have been changes at both
senior and middle management levels as TBS aims for future expansion

Regional leaders

Merchants under £50m turnover

Merchants under £25m turnover


BMF - Builders’ Merchants Federation

BMTPF - Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council

BWF - British Woodworking Federation

CBA - Combined Buying Association

Cemco - Cemco Merchant Network

CPA - Construction Products Association

GGF - Glass & Glazing Federation

H&B - H&B Buying Group

IoBM - Institute of Builders’ Merchants

NMBS - National Merchant Buying Society

TTF - Timber Trade Federation

UNIMER - United Merchants

Financial data: Information is supplied by the companies listed, independently verified where possible, and accurate at 22 March 2010.

This report was first published in the April 2011 issue of Builders' Merchants News.

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