Merchant Focus – January 2021

Merchant Focus – January 2021

In spite of all of the challenges faced by the sector in 2020, the merchant industry moves into the New Year with a number of firms announcing uplifting news of branch expansion plans and awards successes.

Huws Gray

Latest acquisition

Huws Gray has announced the acquisition of Bradford-based Uriah Woodhead & Son and its sister branch, Nelsons of Keighley, continuing the next phase of its ambitious expansion plans. Uriah Woodhead has been a part of Bradford’s commercial landscape since 1866. Run by five generations of the same family, the company stocks thousands of building material lines across its two sites, with specialist teams to provide exceptional knowledge and advice to customers.

This acquisition is the second in West Yorkshire in a month after the recent purchase of Milford Building Supplies in Leeds. Joining existing branches in Bradford, Heckmondwike and Horbury Bridge, Market Weighton and Burnley, the move significantly strengthens the company’s presence in the county. 

Matthew Owen, Head of Acquisitions for Huws Gray, said: “The acquisition marks our commitment to grow Huws Gray in West Yorkshire and beyond. We are truly optimistic for what the future holds and excited to acquire a company whose history, reputation and great customer service is at the forefront of what they do.”

Paul Jaggar, Director of Uriah Woodhead & Son, added: “We are pleased to be the latest acquisition by Huws Gray. The company is very well known and respected in the industry for their expertise and service. With their passion and vision, we know that they will drive the business forward and that the future looks really exciting for all those involved.”

The Huws Gray Group reports that it is “particularly excited for 2021” as it remains committed to growing the business through further acquisitions and creating more opportunities in its branches nationwide and support centres on Anglesey and in Cambridge.


MKM Building Supplies

Specialist branch opening

MKM has opened the doors to a brand new, specialist branch focusing on plumbing, heating, kitchens and bathrooms in Scarborough. Said to offer a host of specialist services, skills and products under one roof, the branch is designed to become a one-stop shop for local plumbing and heating engineers. In addition, the branch will feature a range of kitchen and bathroom designs in a stunning showroom, and will offer free measuring and 3D design services. The depot will also showcase a landscaping display and offers building, timber and sheet materials on a collect basis.

Located at Columbus Ravine, the outlet will welcome both trade and retails customers and offer a complimentary range of services and products to the nearby branch on Seamer Road with the two branches working closely together to enhance the customer experience in the area.

Several staff will be moving across to the new branch, including Branch Director Joe Hakings. Joe said: “This is a really exciting new venture. As a team we are committed to growing MKM’s presence within the local area and continue to provide great customer service and product expertise to customers in Scarborough.”


Merritt & Fryers


Skipton builders’ merchants Merritt & Fryers has acquired Briggs & Duxbury in Barnoldswick in what has been described as a positive development for both long-established family firms. Rachel Fryers said: “We are delighted to be bringing our two firms together under the Merritt & Fryers brand at this time. We plan to retain jobs for all the existing staff and will be looking to develop the business further.”
Established in 1909, the Briggs & Duxbury history has remarkable parallels with that of Merritt & Fryers with both firms starting out as builders and funeral directors before becoming builders’ merchants. The funeral directors division of Briggs & Duxbury will remain under that name, with the merchant business rebranded to Merritt & Fryers over the coming months in a gradual integration.
Briggs & Duxbury’s Mark Brennand said: “We share the same values and background as family businesses with expertise and customer service central to our success, so we are confident that this transition is a great opportunity and definitely great news for our employees and the Barnoldswick community.”
The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, represents a key step in Merritt & Fryers — which celebrated its 85th anniversary in 2020 — consolidating its reputation in the Craven area by extending its footprint into Lancashire.

Norgrove Building Supplies

Award win

Kidderminster-based Norgrove Building Supplies has recently been named as the ‘Best Building Materials Supplier’ in the West Midlands thanks to its continued success and commitment to its customers throughout the global pandemic. The business was awarded the prestigious accolade following on from its recent nomination in the 2020 Midlands Enterprise Awards.

Director Jack Norgrove said: “It’s great to be presented with this award as there are a lot of builders’ merchants in the West Midlands, but since we launched Norgrove Building Supplies our goal has always been to go that extra step for the customer and provide quality products at competitive prices, with a fast, reliable and friendly delivery service.

“It’s been an unusual year but being identified as a key industry we knew we had a responsibility to remain open throughout the pandemic to be able to supply key workers with their building supplies. The hard work and commitment of our staff to help provide quality customer service while providing a safe environment to work in has been second to none. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work, as well as the judging panel at the Midlands Enterprise Awards for their recognition.”

The Midlands Enterprise Awards said: “This prestigious award marks the hard work and stellar efforts of those who have helped shape this demanding and dynamic region, and our comprehensive selection and judging process singles out the true market leaders over the past year.”

Jack added: “It’s great to be recognised, but we’re not stopping there. We are constantly evolving in order to provide the best customer service we can (and) we have recently launched our new e-Commerce website to be able to offer our customers more products with various delivery options. “We’re really pleased with our new site as it also offers our customers a number of free services, including a brick finder assistance tool, an estimating service, materials calculator and a materials quote service among other tools that can really make building your next project even easier.”

The company’s growth has seen it take on additional employees, whilst it is “in the process” of opening a new Norgrove Bathrooms & Tiles showroom in the town.

Williams Trade Supplies

1000 Companies to Inspire Britain listing

Williams has been identified as one of the London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ 2020. The report recognises the UK’s fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and to be featured in the report, businesses had to demonstrate strong revenue growth over the last three years and outperform their sector peers, creating a unique list of the UK’s most innovative SMEs.

Managing Director Ray Stafford said: “This fantastic news from the London Stock Exchange represents much-deserved recognition for a great group of hard-working and creative colleagues, trusted suppliers and above all the ever-growing band of loyal customers who collectively make this business what it is.”

Further details on the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report can be found at

Bradfords Building Supplies

Construction Marketing Awards

Fending off tough competition from some of the biggest brands in the industry, Bradfords Building Supplies has secured victory in three categories at the recent Construction Marketing Awards 2020 for its ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ campaign.

Launched back in May, the initiative was in response to the essential work being carried out by tradespeople across the region during the pandemic and won the Best Use of Advertising, Best Distributor Marketing and Best Big Budget Campaign titles.

Paul Malloy, the merchant’s Head of Marketing, said: “These accolades are a testament to the creativity and dedication of the Bradfords marketing team and all the relentless hard work from staff across its 43 branches.”


Branch expansion programme

The Travis Perkins plc subsidiary was on target to meet its ambitious expansion plan of 60 new outlets in 2020 with 13 stores set to open during December. In locations stretching from Bideford to York, the additional sites were estimated to create in the region of 100 permanent jobs, adding to the 500+ created from the 47 stores opened so far.

MD James Mackenzie said: “2020 has been a year like no other and I am proud of both colleagues and customers that have played their part in continuing to build Britain. As part of the critical supply chain for construction, we have continued in our commitment to provide tools and more for our customers and create job opportunities in the local communities we operate.

“We adapted our business model exceptionally quickly during the first lockdown to meet customer needs and they have really embraced the new way of buying through our 5 minute Click & Collect service.

“We remain on track to open 60 new stores by the end of 2020 and will continue our ambition to open a further 60 stores in 2021.”

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