Norburys Building & Landscape Supplies.

h&b Group: 'Here we grow again'

Published:  26 July, 2013

Independent merchants buying group h&b has welcomed four new associate members this summer, and is still looking for suitable members – especially heating and plumbing merchants – to strengthen its numbers and buying power.

Leeds-based Milford was started from scratch in 1979 by John Middleton-Walker with five employees, one fork truck and a second-hand lorry, operating from a rented yard in Cardigan Road, Leeds. Their Skinner Lane, Leeds, branch was opened in 1997 and the company continues to grow.

As buying at competitive rates was becoming increasingly difficult, the decision was made to join a buying group. Mr Middleton-Walker, managing director, explained what happened next: “Other merchants in the area, and in the Yorkshire Area of the BMF, were asked their opinion of the various buying groups in which they were members, and the group which consistently received the best reports for a company of our size was h&b.

“I have to say that since joining h&b I have been absolutely delighted with the friendly offers of assistance and advice from other members, which has been extremely helpful in the rather hectic weeks since joining! The company has been made to feel most welcome and looks forward to full participation and involvement with h&b.”

Joining h&b isn’t just a one-way street – members who join and benefit from the collective buying power are also required to contribute to the running of the organisation. This includes serving on buying committees and helping negotiation, as well as assisting with administration and management.

“We applied to join the h&b group because it gives us access to a wealth of experience, great rates for materials and hopefully we can offer some of our knowledge in the fencing and landscaping fields in return,” said Steve Allen of Hertford-based Norbury Fencing.

“We started life as a fence and pallet manufacturer back in the year dot, and evolved into a fencing and timber merchant some 25 years ago when founder Peter Norbury split the pallet business away from the merchant side. Peter semi-retired some 20 years ago, leaving myself and Keith Irons to take the business forward. We are now a heavyside merchant with a good range of hard landscape and fencing materials for trade and retail customers.”

Another member of h&b is Brickies builders’ merchants. David Sim started Brickies in 2004 after leaving an area manager job at Jewson. “Joining a buying group such as h&b was the next logical step in our progression,” explained Mr Sim. “h&b was a good fit for us in terms of the supply base, which in a lot of cases mirrored our own. However, the primary criteria was that the group clearly operated for the benefit of the wider group, and was not carrying unnecessary administrative cost in terms that detracted from the gains to be enjoyed by the collective.”

Family-run Norburys Building & Landscape Supplies serves the North Hertfordshire/South Cambridgeshire area. Established in 1972, the company moved to a three-acre site in Melbourn, near Royston in 2005.

Director Alan Norbury said: “We offer a fast and efficient delivery service, competitive pricing and we pride ourselves on our good relationships with our customers. Royston and the surrounding area is growing and in the past few years, has seen a considerable increase in new developments and the renovation of older dwellings. Our sales team offers sound advice based on their own experience gained within the trade.

“Joining h&b will allow us to review our pricing structure, giving us the opportunity to improve our pricing and to review our suppliers and stock, and bring in a wider choice of quality products.”

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