Rod Bennion of NMBS.

Conference: a solution at last

Published:  19 August, 2011

First one, then two. Now, it has been mutually agreed that the industry’s needs will be best served by the Builders’ Merchants Federation cancelling its proposed Conference in Portugal, and engaging fully with NMBS to ensure the very best Conference experience for all its delegates.

 As reported on, both organisations have been feverishly working behind-the-scenes to resolve the impasse.

“The BMF has always believed the industry needs one event, open to all. NMBS now clearly believes the same,” said BMF chairman Terry Parker.

“This is a two-fold opportunity for our industry. The entire debate has raised huge interest across the trade about the whole value of industry get-togethers. That means more people than ever before are seriously considering attending next year,” he said. “Both organisations have already committed resources to organising a top-class conference in 2012. By pooling those resources, we can ensure that when delegates get there, they will enjoy the very highest quality experience to justify the investment of their time in attending.”

This, said Rod Bennion, chairman of the NMBS, will enable the widest strategic debate to take place at the event which will give the industry context for the challenges and opportunities that face us all, both merchants and suppliers. “We will be seeking input from all leading organisations to ensure that the conference content is relevant to both independent members and the industry at large.”

BMF chairman Terry Parker.

“I don’t think it was ever the intention of either organisation to split the industry over this issue,” said Mr Parker. “Our concern, now, is to work together with NMBS to ensure the industry gets one event.”

An amicable conclusion, then. But in the run-up to this decision, merchants who spoke to Builders’ Merchants News expressed surprise that the situation had been allowed to get this far. “As good members of both BMF and NMBS, Beatsons felt caught between two factions. I am glad that the right decision has been made to have one conference,” said director Mark Northway.

“After three years without a Conference, to choose to have a marginalised event is, in my view, ludicrous,” said Stewart Pierce, finance director of Parkers Building Supplies. “The staging of an event of this stature and importance for the industry must involve all interested parties to ensure that maximum commercial benefit is derived for all. It is quite clear that there is no way that any single organisation can ‘lay claim’ to an all-inclusive industry conference which is why the coming together of the previous conference format latterly proved to be such a successful formula.”


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