Builders’ Merchant manager of the year

Published:  22 June, 2009


2007 CHRIS WEST  Buildbase Andover

2006 SIMON CLARK  Tiptree Building Supplies Colchester, Essex




Andover Buildbase

Chris West is branch manager at Andover Buildbase, a greenfield site opened less than two years ago.

At 32, Mr West was appointed as manager from the start of the project and has built up a successful and expanding business.

He was named best branch manager in the latest Buildbase annual awards, beating over 130 other managers across the country. 

Buildbase director Martin Lee presented Mr West with his award and commended his leadership skills. He said: “Chris is an outstanding manager who is a worthy winner of this award. He has created a great team at Andover and has always been happy to ‘muck in’, serving on the trade counter. He is absolutely committed to achieving success and won’t accept anything less.”

The performance of the branch is reflected in its figures. Total sales for 2006 were 51% over budget. Sales for the first six months of 2007 were up by 29.6%. This has been achieved by improvements in staff development.

Tighter controls have resulted in improvements in stock purchasing. This has been facilitated by the appointment of a stock controller.

The branch has created a checklist that attaches to the delivered sales tickets. This ensures that all information is available including postcode, contact details and special delivery instructions. It reduces time spent on incorrect deliveries and not being able to contact customers.

Deliveries are often brought forward for despatch in the same area.  Customer expectations are surpassed and there is a chance to make add-on sales.

By managing customer credit (both collect from site and returns, refund notes are issued as quickly as invoices and dealt with as soon as possible. This creates customer confidence and reduces disputes.




Tiptree Building Supplies

Colchester, Essex

Simon Clark joined TBS in July 2004 and set about laying down the plans to maximise the potential of this relatively small, family-run builders’ merchant. 

Sales for 2004 totalled £1.7m with profits of just £14k. However, following Mr Clark’s changes and a very successful 2005, sales for 2006 should exceed £4m and profits are projected to top £150 000.

Bringing in new, experienced, staff while enhancing the skills of the existing staff, raised the overall drive and enthusiasm of the outlet, which attracted a large number of new customers. 

People were recognised as the important factor for success, but Mr Clark also put into place other essentials:

  • A new point-of-sale computer system.
  • New delivery vehicles.
  • New company branding.
  • Re-organised stock levels and presentation.
  • The training of the sales team, to gain and manage new accounts to maximise sales and profits.
  • Enhanced relationships with all major suppliers to facilitate the supply chain.

Under Mr Clark’s guidance, TBS plays a much fuller role in its membership of the BMF, now attending both the all-industry Conference and the Young Merchants meetings. He was also instrumental in TBS joining the national merchant consortium – the h&b Group – of which it is now an active member.

Simon Clark.

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