With a theme of ‘Sustaining Excellence’, the BMF’s recent Members’ Annual Conference addressed the issue of sustainable buildings — and sustainable businesses — in a changing landscape. PBM reports.
Possibly the most surreal aspect of the BMF’s ‘virtual’ Members’ Annual Conference was actually how normal it all seemed. Usually a bustling, two-day event with plenty of informal networking sessions to punctuate the series of speeches and seminars, circumstances clearly precluded this tried-and-tested formula — yet as the ‘new normal’ extended into its seventh month, we have all adjusted to seeing our industry friends via Zoom.
The well-attended webinar certainly had the hallmarks of fondly-remembered past events, with plentiful discussion in the ‘chat room’ about the how the sector is battling to meet its current challenges — Covid and beyond — in addition to a parade of informative speakers who addressed pressing issues such as sustainability, training and greater industry collaboration.
Indeed, BMF Finance Director, MKM’s Mark Smith said that the level of engagement with members over the last six months has been “extraordinary” and the theme was continued in BMF CEO John Newcomb’s presentation. Total membership is now up to 751 merchants and suppliers (up from 701 a year ago, and from 324 in 2012) whilst the 397 merchant firms now in membership is said to represent 85% of the sector.
Discussing the progress of the BMF’s ‘Building Excellence’ strategy, first revealed at last year’s event at St. George’s Park National Football Centre, John discussed the ‘Project Excellence’ initiative and how the BMF intends to deliver for its stakeholders via enhanced engagement — the true benchmark for any membership organisation.
Having identified the different ‘strands’ of BMF members, the idea is to specifically target those who are currently ‘low engagement groups’ in a number of ways to develop a better solution for their needs, and for the benefit of the wider membership body.
John moved on to discuss the work currently being undertaken as part of the Construction Leadership Council and its post-Covid Roadmap to Recovery plan. The BMF is represented on a number of its Industry Working Groups whilst John also outlined the importance of the merchant sector supporting the recently-launched Talent Retention Scheme.
Following presentations from event sponsors Nathan Garnett, Director of UK Construction Week, and Peter Hallitt, Trading Director of Marshalls, the event theme of ‘Sustainability’ was addressed by Keynote Speaker Lord Deben, Chairman of the UK Committee on Climate Change. The Conservative Life Peer drew on his experiences in politics (as plain old John Selwyn Gummer) and business to offer an illuminating view on the roles and responsibility of both Government and industry to meet the country’s statutory requirements on climate change.
Offering further perspective from within the industry itself, Megan Adlen, Travis Perkins’ Group Head of Sustainability, drew on her 20+ years of experience in sector (one year at TP, following on from service at Ferguson and Wolseley). Sustainability, she noted, is about economic, social and environmental resilience and the increasing drive towards sustainable solutions is presenting a number of business opportunities for the merchant sector.
You can catch up on the discussion directly by viewing the event video on YouTube via