BMF clarifies builders’ merchants’ role during restrictions

24 March 2020

Construction Leadership Council Taskforce briefing asked for clarification on builders’ merchants’ operational status following the additional restrictions announced by the Government.

The Department for Business, Energy& Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirmed that merchants are a vital part of the construction supply chain and that it is important that they continue to support the construction industry to operate on sites, and to provide the link between product manufacturers and the firms and tradespeople that use and install the products they make.  However, all operations should be carried out whilst observing Public Health England (PHE) Guidelines.

“The advice we received from BEIS following this morning’s briefing call makes it clear that merchants should continue to operate.  Ideally, this should be through online and delivery services, but those who need to maintain depot service are able to do so providing they observe PHE guidance including social distancing, cleaning and hygiene, staff welfare and all other means to minimise the risks of transmitting coronavirus,” said John Newcomb, BMF CEO.

Key points of the BMF statement:

  • builders merchants should continue to operate, and to provide a key service to their customers, but do this taking account of the guidance provided by Public Health England;
  • online and delivery services can operate as normal, although drivers should seek to follow advice on social distancing, and avoid close contact with customers;
  • where firms operate stores, they should consider how to manage ordering and collection systems and store operations to observe PHE guidance including social distancing, and on cleaning and hygiene, including of staff welfare facilities, to minimise the risks of transmitting coronavirus; and
  • merchants open to the public should consider whether to continue to allow this during the period when restrictions are in place, and if this is necessary, should consider restrictions on the number of people in their stores at any one time, and how to improve cleaning and hygiene within stores to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.