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Movin’ on

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed that we do not see the one which has opened

Sometimes our friends do things that we wish they hadn’t. We understand why they do them and we wish them well, but it can disconcert us.

There’s a lot of that in this industry, it being one that revolves around people, service and relationships. And so it has been for me this week, when my pal Les White told me that he was selling his independent merchant Crescent Building Supplies to the Grafton Group and that it will trade in the fullness of time as Crescent Buildbase.

Ever since I started this job, way back in the Dark Ages of the last recession, I’ve been writing stories about merchants selling up – or worse, going into receivership and then being sold. That’s the way that business works and it’s the way this market has always and will always work.

There’s a lot to be said for the process of acquisition for a business. It makes sense to buy something that’s a going concern so that you know there’ll be some money coming in from the outset. Mind you, that has to be balanced against the benefits of opening up from scratch where you know that you are in control, you don’t have to deal with other people’s systems, attitudes and different ways of doing business.

Having been through two acquisitions myself, I know that they can bring mixed blessings. Handled badly, they can be horrible experiences, where, no matter what the old and new bosses say, you are always left with the feeling that it’s personal. Of course it’s not, it never (or rarely anyway) is. But if an acquisition is handled well, you can be left with the knowledge that there are new opportunities for those who want to take them, often with better conditions or benefits attached or more job security.

So, even if there’s a part of me that would like everything to stay the same, for all my pals to remains where they are so I can still see them at all the industry events, I completely understand why an independent merchant would decided to sell up and see what the future holds. Les and Paula, it’s been a pleasure – keep in touch guys.

It’s a truth, sometimes acknowledged in the industry, that you know we are back on the good times when that particular breed of merchant known as the group acquisitions manager (other job titles are available) is spotted out and about at industry functions. If we really are back to the good times then they will be out there.

Keep ’em peeled.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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