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New BMF MD: ‘he’s got a real challenge’

The new managing director of the Builders Merchants Federation, John Newcomb, needs to hit the ground running in order to get the BMF back on its feet, according to merchants and suppliers within the industry.

New BMF MD: 'he's got a real challenge'

As Newcomb’s appointment was only announced this week, it is too early to say whether he will take the BMF in the right direction, but merchants are hopeful that he will bring some fresh thinking into the trade association.

“I think he’s got a real challenge in making the BMF a bit more relevant,” says Martyn Rees, managing director of County Building Supplies in Malvern. “With all the buying groups, we tend to be focused on that rather than the BMF, which wasn’t always the case, but certainly, we dedicate more time to the buying groups now. Good luck to him. I’m happy with the appointment and hopeful that he will get results.”

“His job is to find out what the industry wants,” says David Dickens, managing director of Martin and Partners in Northampton. “He needs to talk to merchants and suppliers to find out how we want the BMF to move forward. We want a BMF where the industry sets the agenda, rather than them telling us what our priorities should be.”

Newcomb is joining the BMF from the housewares industry, having previously worked as commercial director of Imperial International. He has also played key roles within the British Home Enhancement Trade Association, or BHETA, over the past 15 years.

“I don’t see the merchant sector as a radical departure and, with my past experience I am looking to bring a fresh pair of eyes to the role,” said Newcomb “The first 100 days is critical to someone coming into a new role. With distance from the merchanting industry, it is far easier to have a helicopter view of what is working and what isn’t, and to understand what members are really looking for. The priority for any trade association is its members. The first thing I need to do is to fully understand the opportunities and threats facing the industry, and the strengths and weaknesses of the current organisation.”

John Sinfield, managing director of Knauf Insulation, said: “I don’t know the new MD, but, his appointment is a key part of the process of moving the BMF along. As he acknowledges, his first 100 days is critical. Engagement with manufacturers and merchants is important.”

The BMF board was looking for a mix of commercial experience and experience participating and running a trade organisation, and Newcomb fit the bill, said Terry Parker, BMF chairman.

“Whilst not working for a merchant, John has worked for several companies who trade in our sector. More importantly, his background of senior commercial roles in a related industry and membership and recent Presidency of BHETA brings both understanding and a fresh approach and expertise to the role, that can only benefit BMF and its members going forward.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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