A new buying group for the independent merchant sector has been launched by two former Unimer names.
The IPG (Independent Plumbing Group) was launched on January 2nd. The managing director is Robin Beal, with Jim Dore as director of sales. Beal’s experience in the industry includes working for two suppliers and a merchant, with his most recent role being trading director at Unimer. Dore has worked for a supplier and also Unimer.
“We are pleased with the level of interest that has been expressed by merchants and suppliers alike”, says Beal.
“The idea for the group came following discussions with various merchants who wouldn’t join other groups, for a variety of reasons. The recent success of new groups in different sectors has been part of the inspiration. The fact that we will be focussing exclusively on Plumbing & Heating, along with the refreshing approach that we are taking with suppliers, has all been part of the attraction.”
Along with a small admin team the group has also benefitted from the support of Tony Dark who is working with the group to help develop the heating supply base. Dark was recently at Omega Flex (TracPipe) and has previously worked for CORGI.
“With various markets encroaching into the traditional sales channels for products sold by merchants, such as supermarkets and internet companies, it’s more important than ever for the true independent to buy at the right prices without it taking up too much of their valuable and limited resource. The IPG can get improved deals by working ‘stronger together’ and doing the bulk of the work on behalf of the merchants. It can also provide access and opportunities with new suppliers that may have not been available, or known by the individual merchant member.”
Plumbers merchant Andrew Lunn, managing director of S.A. Lunn, Farnborough, says: “As an Independent we are excited by the concept of the IPG and the benefits it can bring to us both as individuals and collectively to all independent merchants. All independents are disadvantaged to a greater or lesser extent by the large groups and I see the IPG as one of our best chances of levelling the playing field. Its early days but I have already noticed a difference and we have already benefited. IPG put the deal on the table and let me decide, this is the way independents want it.”
From a suppliers point of view, Stewart Norris, managing director of Floplast says: “IPG already have the foundations and experience to deliver a great package to its members. Our decision to partner them was instant and an opportunity not to be missed.”