Launched to the market in October 2014, the Timber Buying Group is already gaining momentum with its central promise to merchants of offering ‘a new buying strategy built around your business’. PBM talks to TBG Director Allan Durning about how the group is proposing a new template for trading.
Laying claim to being the only purchasing group specialising in timber, panel & sheet material, joinery and second fix products from leading suppliers, the Timber Buying Group (TBG) states that it adopts an innovative and “fresh new approach designed to offer small and medium sized timber and builders’ merchants a new standard in buying efficiency.”
TBG is currently undertaking a range of marketing activities to attract new merchant members and grow its base of supplier partners, with the organisation stating that its recruitment is “gathering pace and gaining real momentum”. Around 20 merchants have either signed up already or are in discussions, whilst 19 suppliers are committed to offering deals.
“It’s not about surrendering any control, but supplementing it. It’s not about ‘coupling up’ the businesses — it is purely about coupling up the buying power.”
Apart from being category specific, TBG says it presents members with other significant benefits. First and foremost, all deals are negotiated for the members by the buying group, thus removing the “onerous task of membership negotiations with numerous suppliers, providing members with the freedom to focus on and develop their own businesses”.
TBG members will be able to call on a management team that includes senior figures in the industry such as Maurice Tyler and Andrew Pine, with previous roles at leading suppliers, merchants and industry organisations. Director Allan Durning comments: “The buying process itself is expertly managed by a dedicated team — all professionals with unrivalled levels of experience gained at senior levels in the merchant sector. In short, a buying group that will listen to what its members want and simply buy better than the rest.”
TBG is also a member of the Timber Trade Federation, helping to reassure merchant members that a robust, sustainable and approvals-compliant supply chain is in place. Related additional benefits to merchants joining the group also include access to an impressive list of ‘Partners’ who can provide members with support and advice beyond the buying deals in business areas such as consultancy, recruitment, merchandising, branch design and specialist marketing.
For example, TBG is working in partnership with Manchester-based Northstar Seriously Creative, one of the UK’s leading marketing agencies in the building materials sector, as its dedicated marketing resource. In addition to managing all membership marketing on behalf of TBG including the creation of a dedicated website, targeted emailers and database marketing, the company will also offer marketing support on demand to members. Other Partner organisations include Anthony Collins Solicitors, Touchstone Commercial Finance, TLC PR and CSD Associates.
But the real USP of the Timber Buying Group comes down to its claim to simply put better deals on the table for members. In essence, it has been ‘stripped back’ to the basics of what a buying group exists to do, as Allan explains: “We’re not looking to do what the other buying groups are doing. We’re putting forward a different kind of proposition for what is perhaps a different kind of merchant.”
These merchants may be too small for some of the established buying organisations and also potentially harder for them to gain access to certain suppliers. However, they will have a strong presence within their local communities and joining TBG will give them a new way of doing business.
“There’s a ‘Spartacus Army’ out there and engaging with them will be key,” Allan explains. “We’re looking to talk to these established family businesses and the new start-ups. You’re dealing with a collection of entrepreneurs and truly independent traders. What we’re proposing has to be right for the members — they have to want to do it, and will only be interested if it is a good deal.”
In many ways, the members are viewed very much as ‘customers’ with Allan saying TBG must provide a value-added service that will keep them coming back. He continues: “They tell us they’re not interested in management or extra admin, but saving time and money — there’s no committee, no quarterly meetings or conferences. It’s not about surrendering any control, but supplementing it. It’s not about ‘coupling up’ the businesses — it is purely about coupling up the buying power.
“We aim to deliver a win win situation for merchants and suppliers. Merchant members sign up for an annual term and we know that if they are not buying from the deals, they’ll simply leave. But we’re confident that with the deals we have in place, we won’t need to force them into compliance — they will want to do it,” adds Allan.
One final service in the TBG portfolio is a unique, Brokerage facility which is designed to simply connect timber buyers and sellers through a number of deals and special offers. Subject to qualifying criteria, the Brokerage is open to all interested parties — members and non-members alike — and purely acts as an online trading conduit, rather than a formal ecommerce facility. Brokerage will take place at pre-determined times throughout the year, and all interested parties will be contacted in advance.
TBG is actively seeking members, suppliers and partners who offer a strategic “fit” to the development of the business and its membership as a whole. For more information, visit www.timberbuyinggroup.co.uk
TBG suppliers represent a diverse cross section of the timber industry, encompassing everything from structural timber to decorative mouldings in addition to gates, fencing, kitchens, roof windows, wood screws, fixings and adhesives. Confirmed TBG suppliers to date are as follows:
- BSW Timber
- Crown Timber
- James Jones
- Panda Panels
- Samac Fixings
- Snows Timber
- Specialist Brand
- Simpson Strong Tie
- Woodbridge Timber