Leading Lights 4/5

Published:  23 June, 2011

Merchants under £50m turnover

1 Sydenhams
Bournemouth, Hampshire
Turnover 2010: £48.5m (2009: £47.0m)
Joint managing directors: Charles Sherborne and James Sherborne
Tel: 01202 303585
Stock: heavyside, timber and lightside
Branches: 22
Affiliations: CBA, NMBS, Unimer.

Sydenhams, in addition supplying timber and building materials, has a timber engineering business that
designs and manufactures buildings and roof trusses.

Ray Pride, the company’s finance director said: “2010 saw an improvement over the second half of 2009, but we remain cautious about the outlook for 2011.”

2 Heating Plumbing Supplies
Newhaven, East Sussex
Turnover 2010: £39m (2009: £33m)
Managing director: Ron Walker
Tel: 01273 511100
Stock: 100% lightside
Number of branches: 26
Affiliations: CBA, NMBS, Unimer.

HPS, which started in 2001, has 26 branches in London, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, Berkshire and Dorset. “Our aim is to offer a real independent alternative to the national merchant groups by offering our customers the highest possible levels of personal service, to this aim our branches hold high levels of stock and are staffed by some of the very best people in the industry,” the company said.

It anticipates further expansion in 2011 and reports turnover in 2010 up 18% on the previous year. Peter Wilson, sales director, said: “Despite a slow start in January due to the adverse weather conditions the end of 2010 finished particularly strongly with both new and established branches doing well.”

“Two additional branches were opened in 2010: Ashford in Kent, on 1 January and Chichester in West
Sussex on 1 March. Two branches (Havant and Worthing) were refurbished with show areas in
addition to our existing successful showrooms at Haywards Heath and Wandsworth,” Mr Wilson said.

3 Rawle Gammon & Baker
Barnstaple, North Devon
Turnover 2010: £39m (2009: £35.5)
Chief  executive: Kevin Fenlon
Tel: 01271 313000
Stock: 46% heavyside, 39% lightside, 15% timber
Number of branches: 14
Affiliations: BMF, CBA, NMBS, Unimer.

RGB Building Supplies, originally a timber importer is  family-owned builders’ merchants in the South West employing over 200 staff. It promotes eco-friendly materials and three new Eco Supply Centres within its branches this year.

4 Elliott Brothers
Turnover 2010: £38.2 (2009: £37.12m)
Managing director: Stuart Mason-Elliott
Tel: 02380 385301
Stock: 75% heavyside, 25% lightside
Branches: 11
Affiliations: BMF, CBA, IoBM, NMBS, Unimer.

Established in 1842 and still family owned today, Elliotts is a builders’ merchant with 11 branches in the South of England, including Elliotts Insulation and Drylining, Elliotts Premier Roofing in Eastleigh and Elliotts Tool Warehouse in Winchester.

5 Joseph Parr Group
Bootle, Liverpool
Turnover 2010: £36m
Chairman: Robert Lomas
Tel: 0151 523 4343
Stock: heavyside
Branches: 8
Affiliations: H&B, NMBS, Unimer –  (at certain depots).

The Joseph Parr Group specialises in small to medium-size builders with a mixed range of heavyside, lightside and timber. The company trades from eight individually branded sites in Bootle, Port Sunlight, Stoke, Rochdale, Oldham, Middlesbrough.

In Scotland, The Builders’ Supply Company is the merchant arm of Joseph Parr and operates from two depots at Edinburgh and Broxburn selling building, timber, landscaping materials and timber materials.

6 James Burrell
Turnover 2010: £32.5m
Managing director:
Stephen Richardson
Tel: 0191 4772249
Stock: heavyside and timber
Branches: 8
Affiliations: CBA, Unimer

James Burrell supplies heavyside building materials to customers between South Yorkshire and the Scottish Borders. It has eight depots at Newcastle, Blyth, Gateshead, Middlesbrough, Bishop Auckland, Stockton, York and Ossett – opened in February 2007 – serving regional and national based contractors and housebuilders.

7 Carvers
Wolverhampton, West Midlands
Turnover 2010: £30m
Managing director: Henry Carver
Tel: 01902 577000
Stock: 75% heavyside, 25% lightside Branches: 2
Affiliations: Cemco, NMBS.

Carvers, in common with most builders’ merchants, has retrenched as a consequence of the severe recession affecting the building industry. How-ever, a “strong financial position” enabled it to continue to invest in the business, the company said.

In late 2008, it established Timber Kit Solutions, a specialist timber frame manufacturing business in which Carvers has a 50% share with three other stakeholders who all have extensive tech-nical knowledge of timber frame construction. “Despite the difficult trading circumstances Carvers continue to look for opportunities to develop in the wider building supplies industry,” the company said.

8 Robert Price Builders’ Merchants
Abergavenny, South Wales   
Turnover 2010: £26.6m (2009: £25.9m)
Chief executive: William Godfrey
Tel: 01873 858585
Stock: 65% heavyside, 35% lightside
Branches: 17
Affiliations: BMF, CBA, NMBS, Unimer.

Robert Price, established in 1847, is a family-owned, independent merchant located in South Wales. It has 14 general merchant branches and three specialist branches for timber, insulation and roofing materials. 2010 saw a strengthening of Robert Price’s position within the Welsh construction sector, meeting the demands of its increasingly diverse customer base.

The company said. “Core product turnover remained strong and Robert Price’s three specialist branches helped them to satisfy the increasingly specialist needs of 21st Century construction companies.”


National merchant leaders

Regional leaders

Merchants under £25m turnover


BMF Builders’ Merchants Federation
BMTPF Building Materials & Technology
Promotion Council
BWF British Woodworking Federation
CBA Combined Buying Association
Cemco Cemco Merchant Network
CPA Construction Products Association
GGF Glass & Glazing Federation
H&B H&B  Buying Group
IoBM Institute of Builders’ Merchants
NMBS National Merchant Buying Society
TTF Timber Trade Federation
UNIMER United Merchants











Financial data: Information is supplied by the companies listed, independently verified where possible, and accurate at 22 March 2010.

This report was first published in the April 2011 issue of Builders' Merchants News.

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