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Customer Inspired Collaboration

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Last week Bristan Group VP of Sales, Ian Hansell was invited to present at the Builders Merchants Federation Heating and Plumbing Forum.  Here Ian reflects on the virtual gathering:

“It’s always uplifting to collaborate with industry colleagues and discuss positive steps to meet the needs of our merchant customers.  Particularly important now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Fellow speaker John Newcomb BMF CEO presented a vision to build excellence through engagement. Sharing the opportunities presented as one of a select number of trade associations to form The Construction Leadership Council.  Co-chaired by Andy Mitchell, CBE, CEO of Thames Tideway and Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for Business & Industry.  It’s encouraging to know all BMF members benefit by this direct communication channel to government and initiatives, such as the Construction Talent Retention Scheme. 

For my part, I shared with the forum the ways in which the Bristan team is adapting to meet the changing needs of merchants.  Sharing market data that predicts a V shaped scenario suggesting that our sector will recover quicker during the second wave, because of lessons learnt in recent months, we are now all more prepared.

UK historical and forecast real GDP growth

“It’s been great to hear so many positive experiences from our merchant and showroom customers and it’s been brilliant to see how people have been adopting technology to help keep the lines of communication open.

“There are lots of reasons to remain optimistic as consumer confidence starts to recover and there is still a market willing to invest in housing.   With the largest monthly rise in property prices for 16 years, the Nationwide reporting house prices are now at a record all-time high and the Bank of England revealing mortgage approvals soared by over 50% in July vs June.

Consumer confidence

Month on month growth in % online and offline sales

“All BMF delegates data showed digital presents a real opportunity for growth in our sector. reports that UK Homeowners have spent £55billion in their properties since the lockdown began in March.  Just as encouraging is the GFK data that shows DIY Home improvement is the only sector to show growth offline.

“I’m optimistic Merchant will remain the dominant channel for installers and non-consumer work; however, Online and click and collect will be an increasing challenge. 

“With government advisors preparing for a second wave now is the time to come together.  So that we can continue to support our merchant customers, we want to know: How will you engage with key customers in the future? How are you set up to deliver a great customer experience in the new world?  Are you set up to be agile, able to adapt to quickly changing circumstances? How can we support you? So, I’m delighted to share Bristan is partnering with Builders Merchant News to host a virtual roundtable to discuss these questions and more on Thursday October 22nd.  I do hope you’ll join us.”

For more information, head to Builders’ Merchant News.