Jimmy Stewart, Director of Stewart Building Services, explains how being an NBG partner has sparked business expansion, while a new brick and block deal is saving money for Scottish partners.
Stewart Building Services opened the doors of a small yard and a cabin in Perthshire in 1995. The heavyside specialist moved to a new two-acre site in 2000 before joining NBG in 2007 and opening a second depot.
Jimmy Stewart has over 35 years of experience in the industry and has seen Stewart Building Services go from strength to strength since becoming an NBG partner. He said: “When we joined NBG, we specialised in brick, block and landscaping. Due to having access to a full support network of partners and such good deals, we’ve been able to expand our offering to include timber and plumbing and heating.
“Perhaps the biggest benefit of being part of NBG is the information-sharing. All the partners are experts in what they are do and are around whenever you need expertise and advice.”
Since joining NBG, Stewart Building Services has been part of the Brick and Block Category Management Team (CMT) with Jimmy involved in negotiating deals and securing the group’s annual product allocation.
The latest Monthly Statistics of Building Materials and Components from BEIS revealed that the UK brick industry is starting to meet demand, posting a 3.3% increase in product dispatch this year. However, availability is still an issue as Jimmy explained: “Merchants have been experiencing a lack of availability of bricks and blocks in the last few years, due to manufacturers struggling to keep up with demand post-recession.
“At NBG, we’ve secured an annual allocation of product so to help our partners. I wouldn’t like to be an independent brick and block merchant outside a buying group at the moment,” adds Jimmy.
While supply has been lower, partners have noticed an increase in new products aimed at filling a gap in the market. Jimmy says: “One thing we have noticed is an increase in the popularity of concrete bricks as a substitute for clay. Concrete manufacturers have really upped their game recently to bring a good product to the market that can rival clay and fill the void left open due to the lack of availability. We’ve also seen more bricks being imported from further afield, rather than being produced in the UK.”
NBG’s Brick and Block CMT has been working hard to secure new deals and thanks to an agreement with Patersons Concrete, Stewart Building Services is already saving money. Jimmy comments: “Paterson’s has opened a new state-of-the-art factory near Glasgow and has the technology to specialise in different types of concrete brick.
“The deal went live in March and is a fantastic addition for Scottish partners in particular. Not only do we have access to a quality product, but the manufacturers are now much closer to home, so we are paying less for haulage.
“Being an NBG partner really has allowed us to buy better. Making the most of good deals has allowed us to grow our business into new sectors and our plan now is to keep working hard to make sure we move forward and continue to evolve.”