UK: For the third year running as the trading year closed, NBG members reported  suffering snow-induced chaos that is wiping out what remains of a short trading month.

"Merchants in general are looking at a 10-month trading year, that will no doubt rack the pressure up," said NBG executive chairman, Allan Durning.

"Our priorities have been shaped by the past trend of mild winters, seven years in all, before all of this hit us. Well it's time to rethink this position and start preparing for more of the same in my view."

The weather had made trading difficult, but Mr Durning said that independents that are outside of strong buying groups will face a bleak number of months as trading conditions remain difficult.

"The last quarter for our partners has seen strong performance and growth as I stated at our London Conference, apart from winning many of the key awards at the Builders' Merchants Awards for Excellence, we have seen acquisitions, new branches and expansion into lightside from many partners," Mr Durning stated.

"As we close the year partner recruitment and enlargement has taken a more rigorous position. We have taken the decision slow down the expansion of NBG. Going forward it will be about quality not quantity.

"The flow of potential applicants to NBG is still strong but we are turning more away than we are accepting and we have introduced a new entry joining fee to recoup some of the original investments made by our partners in NBG," Mr Durning said.