Trailblazers – UPDATE

Our annual Trailblazers supplement, published every March, is the who’s who of the merchant industry. Click on the headline to check out the most recent financial performances from some of the featured merchants.

Trailblazers – UPDATE

It seems that, in line with the weather, this time of year sees a deluge of accounts filed for merchant businesses. Some of the largest companies have already been reported on separately in the news, both here on the site and in print in BMJ.

Below is a very brief run through of the results from a selection of our other Trailblazers. But remember to keep an eye on to track how your competitors or your customers are doing.

2006 was a good year for at least four of the companies who recently filed their latest accounts, with good sales growth and increases in profitability.

Nicholls and Clarke for example, put on just under £5.5m in turnover in 2006 after a flat performance in 2005. The Essex-based company opened six new branches in 2005 and early 2006 and it looks as if the investment has paid off with the 9.5% rise in turnover and a 15.3% rise in operating profits to £2.2m.

It’s a similar story with Southampton-based Elliott Brothers. Their 2006 results, filed last month, show a 10.5% increase in sales to £43.3m from £39.2m, continuing the company trend for solid sales growth in the past few years.

MKM Building Supplies put on a healthy 8.8% in sales, taking the figure from £82.9m in 2005 to £90.3m last year. This was backed up by a gross profit increase of 11.1% suggesting that the company is not only selling hard, it is keeping a close eye its margins. Speaking to Trailblazers in March, md Bill Acton said the company had been forced to lower prices on commodity products in order to compete but intended to focus on “value-added products” in order to regain that lost margin.

Ridgeons made sure it kept ahead of the game, with a small increase of 2.8% in turnover to £109.5m. And John A Stephens had a very steady 12 months, as they have for some time, with turnover fluctuating by no more than £220k in the past three years.

Only Welsh business Robert Price saw a drop in turnover, albeit a nominal one, with sales falling from £35.6m to £34.5m. However, the performance may be more to do with legislation than anything else. Managing director Will Godfrey told Trailblazers that the Welsh Assembly’s had not put the same emphasis on building that the Government had. So a direct comparison with the other results here would perhaps be a little unfair.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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