Independent builders merchant buying group h&b has grown to over 100 merchant members, all fully privately-owned and -run family businesses with a collective buying power of nearly £1 bn.
Most of those members are open for business as the COVID-19 lockdown continues; all members are operating strictly within the government’s safety guidelines to ensure the safety of staff, customers and suppliers. Even among those members that are officially closed, these is still business being done, with many servicing NHS, social housing and other essential projects with a skeleton staff.
“Showing the agile and positive attitude that is typical of independent merchants, more than 80% of our members are open for trade in one form or another,” says h&b trading director Jamie Wyatt. “Merchants lie at the heart of the building industry supply chain and without them supplying materials, many contractors and tradesmen would have struggled to stay in business in these uncertain times and their ability to support key projects at risk.”
Members are using a variety of trading formats including click-and-collect, reduced opening hours, delivery only, contactless payments and collection by appointment only. h&b’s own organisation also continues to operate with staff working from home and the team is maintaining its service and support levels to members throughout. “At times like these for independent businesses it can seem a lonely place. Being a member of h&b can offer the help, reassurance, best practice guidance and stock availability that make trading a safer place for everyone,” says Wyatt.
105 h&b merchant members with more than 277 branches are trading in partnership with around 280 suppliers. In the 22 years since its formation, h&b has continuously grown its member base, increasing its capacity to negotiate the very best buying deals for its members from the industry’s leading suppliers. Every one has been assessed before joining the group to ensure that they fulfil h&b’s strict criteria. Only truly independent merchants, without outside finance and with a proven financial track record and a commitment to growth, service, quality and innovation make the grade. h&b partners are typically dynamic local businesses with a strong commitment to growth, service, quality and innovation.
“We are proud and delighted to have reached this impressive milestone,” Wyatt continues. “It goes to show just how progressive h&b is with the strongest commitment and member engagement in the industry. We now have a national network of over 100 quality, independent merchant members across the UK, working together to grow their business and profitability – a force to be reckoned with in UK merchanting.”