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United we stand

We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Wolseley UK has re-joined the BMF. Which is nice.

A far better writer than I once said: ‘decisions are made by those who turn up’.

It’s so true. No more so than in these heady days leading up to the General Election. Whatever Russell Brand might say about there being no point in voting because it never changes anything, one thing is sure. Not voting and not being a part of things certainly never changes anything.

Not that Wolseley being outside the BMF has necessarily disenfranchised them. But it’s always good to be a part of something bigger than you, as long as that something bigger than you is worth being a part of.

When Wolseley left the BMF it was because it could no longer see a need for its membership. It wasn’t, to be fair, entirely wrong in making that assumption. Back then, the BMF was not the same creature it is now. Mind you, neither was Wolseley.

Both organisations have had to make some extremely painful decisions in the intervening years. Both have emerged from the sharpest, steepest recession most of us have known battered and bruised but leaner, sleeker and, hopefully, wiser.

Governments, whatever their colour and creed, like to deal with single organisations, who can deal with them whilst speaking with one voice. This, of course, is what the BMF aims to do, to speak to Governments, the media and the wider world about the needs and requirements of the building materials distribution sector.

Of course, this latest move has been helped by the fact that the current BMF Chairman, Peter Hindle, has long been a fan of the industry talking as one voice and has seen the benefits that membership can bring to a multi-brand, multi-branch national operation first-hand. Conversely, he’s also seen the benefits that having a multi-brand, multi-branch national operation as part of your organisation can bring. It was he who cleared the path for the larger merchants when Jewson rejoined in 2007, pretty much the moment that B&Q resigned its controversial membership. Hindle, a merchant to his very core, believes that together, the industry is better, stronger and more capable of taking on the challenges of today and tomorrow.

With Wolseley’s membership, the BMF can claim a combined membership of 472 members with collective sales in excess of £15 bn, employing some 86000 people in the UK, working in more than 3,200 branches across the UK.

There’s only one major multi-brand merchant name now not on the BMF list. Travis Perkins certainly haven’t been disadvantaged in the years since they, too, resigned. Will they change their minds? That’s not for me to speculate.

If your name’s not on the list, you can’t come in. Wolseley, your name is definitely now on the list. Come on in.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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