The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) plans to appoint a national chairman for the first time as part of a wide-ranging structural review.

The BMF has also abolished its 26-person board, which had representatives from all UK regions, as well as the posts of president and vice-president.

Federation president Peter Buttle, who will stay on until a chairman is appointed, said: “Like many trade federations we have needed a more commercial approach to our operations. I am confident that this new slimmer structure will enable the federation to become more focused and dynamic.”

Mr Buttle said the aim was to provide greater value for money in both services and training to merchants.

BMF secretary Peter Matthews said annually elected presidents could not provide the continuity of leadership which a part-time paid chairman could offer.

He said the federation did not have a funding problem and that membership was growing. But he admitted numbers were down historically due to trade consolidation.

An eight-person board with six elected members replaces the former board, while current director Jeremy Hawksley’s job title will be renamed managing director.