Builders merchant EH Smith hosted a visit from Lorely Burt MP, the Builders Merchants Federation and the Modern Masonry Alliance at its flagship branch in Shirley, Solihull.
The Liberal Democrat MP for Solihull, who is a ministerial aide to Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, was accompanied by John Newcomb, managing director of the BMF and Mike Leonard, MMA chief executive.
Burt spent an hour and a half at the EH Smith site speaking to members of staff as well as the company’s chief executive and joint chairman of Fortis, John Parker. In the light of her new role, one of the things she was keen to know was why there are not more women in merchanting. Discussions included the need to attract more young people and more women into the industry and the BMF’s upcoming youth recruitment campaign.
The merchant team also highlighted the importance of the domestic repair, maintenance & improvement market to the sector and discussed the construction industry’s long-standing campaign to reduce the level of VAT levied on this work to 5%.
Newcomb said: “This was a very useful building block in our work to raise the profile of our industry with Government, alongside our newly-published BMF Policy Manifesto. Lorely Burt was keen to visit a merchant within her constituency and EH Smith is an excellent example of a company that has invested and developed its core business to maintain high levels of customer service and meet the changing needs of its trades customers.”
Parker said: “The construction industry continues to play a significant part in the UK’s emergence from recession and Builders Merchants are playing a pivotal role. As our local MP and someone with influence in Government we were delighted to welcome Lorely to EH Smith and be able to share our concerns that an apprenticeship in our sector is perhaps not as valued as it could be by those in education.”