Lifetime Achievement Award recipient – William Godfrey of Robert Price Builders' Merchants.

2009 Awards celebrate the industry’s finest

Published:  23 November, 2009

LONDON: Eight years old, 380 guests, a lavish reception and 15 happy winners – this year’s Builders’ Merchants Awards for Excellence was a day for celebrating, networking and doing some serious business.

Many guests had booked meetings prior to the event and the celebrations and partying continued long after the presentations had finished.

Awards host, John Inverdale, the BBC sports presenter, kept the gathering amused with his anecdotes, posed with winners and stayed after the event to chat to guests, winners, runners-up and sponsors.

This year’s youngest winner was 20-year-old Joanna Burns of EH Smith (Builders’ Merchants), Solihull in the trainee category. Her product knowledge, efficiency and sense of fun were quoted as being important factors in her day-to-day work, as was her “instinctive flair for trading and customer service”.

Although still classed as a ‘trainee’, Ms Burns’ trading figures “outperformed many longstanding and experienced traders throughout the business”, said the company.

The Achiever of the Year Award went to Anne Ganley, managing director of Thompson Building Centres. Mrs Ganley exemplified the best qualities of an independent family-run business. Her tireless work for the Entrepreneurs Forum and Durham Business School as well as group talks for women starting up in business, have made her a public figure in her native Sunderland.

Phil Burns of Coomers, Surrey, scooped the Builders Merchant Manager of the Year Award for his “exceptional, if somewhat unorthodox methods” and “infectious enthusiasm” that was reflected by the motivated and loyal team he commands.

William Godfrey, this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award was recognised for his unstinting endeavours to help independent merchants to become stronger and shape their own destiny. He has also devoted his life to ensure that Robert Price Builders’ Merchants became the biggest independent merchant in Wales.

Mr Godfrey delivered a warm-hearted acceptance speech, recollecting the ‘characters’ in the industry and his deep-rooted commitment to the local community of his beloved Wales.

2009’s Builders’ Merchants Awards for Excellence winners are:


Anne Ganley of Thompson Building Centres, Sunderland.


George Bence & Sons, Cheltenham.


Plumbing Trade Supplies, Leicestershire.


Thistle Timber & Building Supplies, Edinburgh


C&W Berry, Lancashire.


Achiever of the Year – Anne Ganley of Thompson Building Centres.

Lawsons, Hertfordshire.


Phil Burns of Coomers, Surrey.


Beatsons, Scotland.


Grafton Merchanting (GB), Oxford.


George Bence & Sons, Cheltenham.


WPL, Hampshire.


Joanna Burns of EH Smith (Builders’ Merchants), Solihull.


Ridgeons, Cambridge.


TBS, Northamptonshire.

This year’s Awards judges were Chris Pateman, the managing director of the Builders’ Merchants Federation; Roger Crees, president elect of the Institute of Builders’ Merchants; Howard Grant, managing director of Unimer; Chris Hayward, managing director of NMBS; Ken Pepperrell, master of the Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants; Kenneth Smith, chairman of EH Smith and the recipient of the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award; John Ward, chairman of Stockgap; Andrew Hall, president of GAI and Simon Storer, communications and external affairs director of the Construction Products Association. Chairman of the judging panel was Lisa Arcangeli, the managing editor of Builders’ Merchants News.

A fulsome pictorial report on the Awards for Excellence will appear in the December/January edition of Builders’ Merchants News, published on 19 January.

Merchant Manager of the Year – Phil Burns of Coomers.

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