Builders' Merchant lifetime achievement award

Published:  22 June, 2009



2007 ANDREW TIPPER  Walter Tipper   Wolverhampton, West Midlands  

2006 PETER BRADFORD  Bradfords Building Supplies Yeovil, Somerset




Walter Tipper, Wolverhampton, West Midlands

Andrew Tipper is the chairman and managing director of Walter Tipper Ltd.

He has been involved with the builders’ merchant industry for 37 years, where he has been widely acknowledged for his fervent commitment to the constant improvement and development of best practice and the support of independent merchants.

Educated at King Edwards Grammar School Lichfield, Andrew went on to qualify as a chartered accountant for Touche Ross, gaining one of the top prizes in the country for his final exams, before joining the family business in 1970.

Mr Tipper held a number of management positions before becoming managing director.

Under his guidance, the family business has grown to a turnover of £29m with six branches and 190 employees and is considered a valuable employer and business in the Midlands.

Walter Tipper Ltd has been established for over 80 years and has continued to expand. It is now the Midlands’ foremost supplier of building, plumbing, timber and joinery materials.

Mr Tipper is a member and keen supporter of many industry organisations, including the BMF, Unimer, CBA and NMBS, where he has played an active part in the development and support of his fellow independents.

He is a man with an eye to detail and has been involved as an active member of the NMBS management and commodity committees for nearly 20 years.

He was chairman of NMBS between 1992-1994. His chairmanship coincided with major changes at NMBS, including the appointment of a new managing director and the implementation of a new computer system and full review of that buying society’s financial and reporting systems.

During Mr Tipper’s time as chairman of NMBS, the organisation changed dramatically, with a revitalised team at head office, leading to reduced operating costs and a significant increase in rebate payments to members.

He is still an active member of the NMBS management committee, where his specialist contribution on the financial side of the business is as invaluable today, as when he first joined the committee.

As well as his roles at NMBS, Andrew has been a very active member in the development of CBA and was instrumental in focusing the unified voice of the association.

He was chairman from 1997 to 2000 and to this day is involved in supporting all its activities and plans for the future. He is currently serving as CBA Building Committee chairman.

Andrew Tipper.

Mr Tipper has also been involved in local charities over the years. He was a member of Lichfield Round Table and was area chairman in 1986 and involved in the Area Committee for a number of years.

He was a founder member of the Lichfield International Music Festival and was key to the St Mary’s Centre Project, which involved the development of a derelict, vandalised church into a flourishing centre for senior citizens and a heritage centre and church, which has become a focal point for the community. He was also instrumental in the building of a new hut for the local Scout group.

Mr Tipper is the father of four children, three of whom have now joined Walter Tipper Ltd. He has two grandchildren.

There is an expression: ‘If you want something done, then ask a busy man’ and Mr Tipper fits this description perfectly, as he continues to work tirelessly for his own business and just as importantly, for the industry.




Bradfords Building Supplies

Yeovil, Somerset

Peter Bradford retired in August 2006 after 42 years in the builders’ merchants industry. 

Educated at Marlborough College, Mr Bradford went to Oxford, where he obtained an MA in engineering science, joining the family company Bradfords, the oldest builders’ merchants in the UK, in 1964, as a management trainee.               

At that time, Bradfords was a general merchant and Mr Bradford initiated the separation of the company into three separate businesses: builders’ merchants, coal merchants and agricultural merchants.

Another one of his initiatives was the introduction of lightside products, which helped to widen the customer base by moving away from solely heavyside products. This provided a more focused business strategy and enabled the company to prosper.  

Following a number of management positions he was appointed managing director of Bradfords Building Supplies in 1981 and group chairman and chief executive in 1990.     

Under his stewardship the company has grown from 16 locations to the present 28.

Turnover has increased from £35m to £98m and profits from £1.25m to £5.5m. Bradfords now employs over 800 people.

A keen supporter of the Builders’ Merchants Federation, Mr Bradford represented the South West on Council, and then, until recently, served as a director.

He served on two strategic review committees and spent three years on the finance and general purposes committee and more recently, was on the profit and costs committee.

Mr Bradford has always recognised the importance of having well qualified staff and was a great supporter of the BMF training programmes. He always encouraged staff to enrol on courses in order to improve their knowledge so that they were in a position to advance their career with the company.

A strong supporter of independent merchants, he recognised the importance of buying groups and was an active member of WBM, a director of GCM and was also on the executive committee of CBA.  

In 2006, Bradfords Building Supplies was recognised as one of the top 50 fastest-growing companies in the South West.


Peter Bradford.

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