Independent Builders’ Merchant of the year (6 branches or more)

Published:  22 June, 2009



2006 ASHMEAD BUILDING SUPPLIES  Avonmouth, Bristol





2007 was another good year for MKM, with seven new branch openings and 1,458 new trading customers growing sales by 28% to a forecasted figure of £115m for the full year. 

It is the belief of the directors of MKM that ‘it is people that make the difference”, in delivering the best in terms of customer service. That is why MKM gives its branch managers an equity stake in the new business.

To encourage all other staff to participate in profit-generating activities, MKM honed its goal deployment programme. This consists of a set of group goals that are measured monthly at each branch and are presented in graph form in a prominent position within the branch.

The purpose is to recognise that each member of staff plays a part in delivering the best in customer service, managing margin, controlling costs, managing slow moving stock and increasing net profit. 

By charting monthly performance and rewarding people for achievement of their goals, MKM ensures 100% participation of staff at every branch, working as a team to achieve the overall aim of the company which is to grow sales profitable.

Sales from new branches over the period have added £9m to the turnover. 

Once MKM has decided on a new location, it works with its supplier base to ensure the correct products for the area are held in stock. Then, the company instigates an extensive marketing campaign to inform all potential customers of the benefits of dealing with MKM. This strategy has been so successful that most branches move into profit after six months.

Each quarter, the company produces a promotional booklet featuring price promotions, new product launches, supplier promotions and training initiatives. It is mailed to our entire customer base. As a result, the number of purchasing customers has increased by 1458 during the year.




Avonmouth, Bristol

Ashmead’s two branches located at Willand (Devon) and Avonmouth (Bristol) have undergone a five-year continuous programme of development  culminating in the total rebuilding of the Avonmouth premises (completed early 2005). The merchant recruited skilled new staff to replace the original first generation team and management. Its self-confessed ‘obsession’ with customer service has seen it introduce a 90-day business plan; regular all-staff team meetings (including feedback for improvements); new proactive sales and marketing efforts; computerised point-of-sale; email facilities; an improved website; test and measure applied to marketing programmes.

Its marketing initiatives take many forms, including: local newspaper advertisements; invoice ‘stuffers’; special offer promotions and vouchers; calling on customers (phone and visit); customer feedback forms – suggestion books; assured presentation of yard and premises; professional attitude of staff; serious attention to delighting customers and a new company logo.

Normal management and accountancy figures provide prime measurement tools. Despite recent negative BMF sales figures, Ashmead continued to buck the trend, notching up a healthy 15.4% ex-yard growth for the financial year to-date (1 November 2005-31 July 2006).



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