The managing director of the National Merchant Buying Society Chris Hayward took to the stage at the society’s biennial industry conference at the weekend (19th to 22nd June) to talk about branding and to update delegates on the NMBS’s progress in its merger with fellow buying group Unimer.
Following a video demonstrating the power of branding, Hayward told delegates that the theme of the conference was Building a Brand, Building Business.
“We want NMBS to be seen as a brand that adds value and customer service.”
Updating delegates on the amalgamation with Unimer, Hayward said that both were “two good businesses, but nowadays good isn’t good enough. You need to be a great business.”
Hayward talked about the merger and said that the advice was that the best way of amalgamation was to keep one going and slowly close the other. The 1 February 2014 saw 261 new members and 161 new suppliers join NMBS with the result that NMBS’ annual turnover is likely to rise from £684m last year, to a projected £1.2bn this year.
Unimer, Hayward reported, has been responsible for winding down the business, paying surpluses and paying the Unimer shareholders.
“The new bigger business will offer invoice clearing benefits, purchasing benefits, best practice, stronger more sustainable credit limits,” Hayward said. “It was also a great opportunity to stretch and review the current business model.
“The emphasis for next six months is to see how we can get better. Now, thanks to our captive insurance cell, we have more than £1m funds insured in a rainy day fund – if there are any downturns in the future we can keep credit limits for members, which is important.”
The new business has over 1,000 members, 2900 branches and 600 top suppliers with 95% of all available turnover having migrated over from Unimer. “The total sales value of all our members is £6.4bn. If you put that 6.4bn into the total market you find that it gives us a business that’s bigger than Travis Perkins and Saint Gobain together. Independents have 40% of the market. That’s the real opportunity,” says Hayward.