Delegates at the first h&b conference.

h&b group notches up a first

Published:  12 April, 2011

WALES: The first-ever h&b Group National Conference was held at Celtic Manor, Newport on Friday 18 March, and was a resounding success according members'' feedback.

The event kicked off with the organiser, Kevin Parr interviewing h&b chairman, Peter Buttle, and probing him about the future growth and direction of the group. This was followed by Steve Gummer, of Sales-i. He explained how members members could get their sales force to make better use of mpobile technology. Tom Miller of e-Biz demonstrated forthcoming improvements and developments to the h&b intranet.


Nina Royle, from the Builders' Merchants Federation explained how h&b members' staff can benefit from the BMF's government-funded apprenticeship scheme. Then 'eco-warrior' Lorcan Anglin, former managing director of h&b member Paget's and founder of The Green Energy Centre, rounded off a busy morning with his views on how independent merchants can tackle the challenges and opportunities presented by the Government's Green Deal and other ecological initiatives.

Members also had the opportunity network, as Arthur Duffy of Progressive Solutions, got delegates juggling balls to prove a point about multi-tasking. He also showed members how better analysis of IT data already on their own computer systems can improve sales, profit and cashflow.

At a question and answer session, chaired by Dave Anderson and Mark Northway from h&b's management committee, it was emphasised that the group depended on member comittment and that the more actively engaged members were, the bigger the benefits they and other members could receive.

Keynote speaker, Geoff Burch provided an entertaining and motivational talk. He also illustrated the home-truths about the sort of mistakes merchants can make in running their businesses.

The conference's drinks, and dinner - with tables sponsored by key suppliers Cemex, Knauf Drywall and Insulation, Marshalls, Quinn and Ronseal - was followed by speaker and memory-man, John Simonett, who managed not only to remember the names of nearly everyone at the dinner but personal facts about them, too without ever having met them. Mr Simonett then went on to engage his audience with clever 'participation problems' to round off the evening.

h&b Group is one of a small number of buying groups whose main aim is to deliver significantly better buying terms than can be achieved by a builders' merchant operating alone.


h&b Group was formed 14 years ago and has grown in recent years to more than 70 member companies spread across the UK. The buying group states that its major strengths are: integrity, openness and trust between members, strong commitment, a high level of throughput, lack of geographical exclusion and a 'youthful' flexibility.


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