Proposal for a merger between IoBM and BMF fails to win support

Published:  09 November, 2018

The Institute of Builders Merchants has said no to a proposal for a merger with the Builders Merchants Federation.

And the leading objector to the merger, Honorary Fellow Dave Saunders, said it was rejected because it failed to properly explain what would happen to the IoBM if it was dissolved into the BMF.

The merger had been proposed to address the IoBM’s declining membership. Eleven of the 177 IoBM members attended a meeting at the BMF’s headquarters in Coventry on Wednesday to vote on the special resolution, and 33 voted by proxy. Although there were 18 votes against the merger and 26 for it, supporters failed to achieve the 75% majority they needed for the proposal to be accepted.

When the result was announced, the board of governors stepped down and were replaced by those who had voted against the merger, with Saunders as the new President, Janet Saunders as Treasurer and Alan Jones as Vice Chairman.

Former President Allan Durning had proposed that the two organisations work together to “build excellence”, with the IoBM focusing on individuals and the BMF focusing on companies. But IoBM member Chris Pateman criticised the proposal in a heated discussion with Durning, arguing that it was nowhere near detailed enough for members to make a decision on it. Durning said that the merger was necessary because “the Institute is dying on its feet”, but Saunders was adamant that the Institute should remain independent, and he had the backing of several other Fellows and former Presidents.

Speaking exclusively to BMN following the meeting, Saunders said that the merger proposal had “no strategy” and “the governance was all wrong”. He acknowledged that the IoBM may still be facing the same difficulty in a year’s time, but that he would consult the other members on what to do if that became the case.

Pateman said he would even welcome another proposal from the BMF as long as it was detailed in full, but that “we want to make sure all other options have been explored”.

Former Governor Duncan Barker called the result “disappointing”, and said that “the organisation must move with the times, and the BMF would have helped it to do that”. Durning wished the new board well, but added: “They’ve got it completely wrong”. Saunders responded: “All members are entitled to their opinion, and they expressed a will for a different path which will be developed”.

In a formal statement released after the meeting on Wednesday – Durning said: "At the annual general meeting of the Institute on 7 November, members of IOBM were asked to vote on a proposal regarding the future of the Institute. In order to ensure the future of the Institute's activities, the governors were of the view that the Institute should dissolve and that the activities of the Institute should be continued by the Builders Merchant Federation.

“At the annual general meeting, although over 50% of the members voted in favour of the resolution the required 75% majority was not met and therefore the resolution was not passed. In light of this result, [I] and the board of governors felt that it was only appropriate for them to step down and for a new president and board of governors to be appointed in order to continue the Institute's work. [We] wish the new president, Dave Saunders, and the board of governors all the best in their work for the Institute and their plans for its future."

BMF Chief-Executive John Newcomb said the strategy for merging with the IoBM was “clearly thought through” and added: “The BMF proposal was accepted by the majority of our members, who represent the industry, as well as the Young Merchant group, who represent the future of the industry.”

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