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NMBS stages highly successful all-industry conference



NMBS stages highly successful all-industry conference

NMBS, the UK's largest buying society for independent builders', plumbing and heating, timber, and hardware merchants, has staged a highly successful all-industry conference.

Over 500 delegates from all areas of the merchanting sector representing both merchants and suppliers, attended the three day event which ran from 14th to the 17th June at the Grand Hotel Dino on the shores of Lake Maggiore, Baveno, Italy.

Centred around the theme ‘Industry Matters', the conference offered those attending a packed and commercially-focused itinerary designed to encourage collaboration, knowledge sharing and networking.

The conference began with an activity day enabling delegates to acclimatise and relax after their journeys. 

Sponsored by IKO and Alumasc Water Management Solutions, the activity day enabled delegates to take part in either mountain biking or a golf tournament at Golf Club des Iles Borromées, which offers stunning views of the Swiss Alps and surrounding countryside.

On the evening of first day, a welcome dinner was also held in the Grand Hotel Dino's Royal and Panorama Gardens. This featured pre-dinner drinks sponsored by Marsh Industries and a buffet dinner sponsored by Dickies.

On day two, the business programme of the conference began in earnest. After a welcome from the conference host, behaviourist, broadcaster, highly accomplished keynote speaker and award-winning author, Jez Rose (whose appearance was sponsored by Encon), delegates were given an update on NMBS' current performance and future plans.

Delivered by senior members of the NMBS team, including Chris Hayward, managing director, Julie Langford, finance director and Andy Hextall, commercial director, this outlined how NMBS plans to ‘automate and innovate' to build on its already considerable success.

The buying society is aiming to complement its core activities with an increased focus on maximising digital technology and best practice data management in order to achieve a turnover of £3BN within five years.

Following the NMBS team, a line-up of respected speakers delivered presentations covering a variety of topics pertinent to the opportunities and challenges faced by merchants and the wider merchanting sector today.

These speakers and their subjects included:

  • Mark Berrisford-Smith, economist, who spoke to delegates on the UK and global economic outlook before taking part in a Q&A session.
  • Georgie Barrat, tech journalist and presenter of Channel 5's ‘The Gadget Show', who spoke about millennials and how to get the best from this new generation of talent.
  • Vit Kutnar, founder and CEO of DEK - the largest distributor of construction materials in the Czech Republic and the second largest in Slovakia. Vit spoke about the innovative approach that has helped him to take DEK from a standing start to a £650M business in 25 years.
  • Neil Munz-Jones, director and founder of mdj2, who offered insight into digital disruption on the building materials market and how merchants can effectively compete with businesses like Amazon.
  • Andy Scothern, managing director of eCommonSense, who spoke about effective data management and the tangible impact this can have on commercial success.
  • David Meade, keynote speaker, trainer and TV personality, who inspired the audience with his ability to tell people what they were thinking from subtle nuances in behaviour.
  • Jez Rose, who spoke about how a small shift in the way we think can deliver enormous benefits in the results we achieve.

A number of these speakers also hosted smaller breakout sessions.

In the evening, delegates were able to enjoy some free time or to take part in group dine-arounds at local restaurants, including a number located on islands across Lake Maggiore.

Day 3 commenced with ‘Meet the Merchant'. This networking session, which proved highly popular with those attending the conference, enabled delegates to book ten minute appointments with contacts of their choice.

For merchants it was an effective way to meet existing and potential suppliers and to outline their business needs. For suppliers meanwhile, it was an opportunity to meet prospective and current customers and to promote the benefits of their offer as well as any new developments.

‘Meet the Merchant' was followed by the conference's two keynote speakers.

Kevin Gaskell, whose many notable achievements include leading the turnaround of the UK operations of Porsche and helping BMW (GB) to achieve record growth and a 500% increase in profitability, spoke about inspired leadership and how this can be used to deliver world class service and achieve business transformation.

Kevin was followed by Hamish Taylor - who has worked in brand management for P&G (Procter & Gamble), as a management consultant at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), as head of brands at British Airways and as CEO of both Eurostar and Sainsbury's Bank.

Drawing on his experience, Hamish spoke about his success in helping these businesses to achieve either significant growth or a major turnaround in performance thanks to his willingness to challenge industry and organisational norms.

Day 3 also saw John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation, announce Dubrovnik as the location of next year's BMF All-Industry Conference before Jez Rose brought the conference to a close.

In the evening, a gala dinner was held featuring pre-dinner drinks sponsored by HiKoki and dinner sponsored by Crystal. The dinner's entertainment consisted of circus acts and a female opera singing trio whilst Jeremy Miller made his first address as NMBS' new non-exec chair.

Prior to the conference, delegates were also offered the opportunity to travel to the event in style thanks to a car rally sponsored by ACO. This ran from Reims to Baveno, taking in a number of attractions and sights along the way.

Commenting on the success of the 2018 All-industry Conference, Andy Hextall, commercial director at NMBS, said: "We're delighted that this year's event was so well attended and that the feedback received from delegates has been nothing short of exceptional.

"Many of them have praised the conference as being our best to date and also commented favourably on the calibre of the speakers and on the relevancy of their content.

"I would like to thank everyone who made the trip to Baveno and trust that they found the three days to be useful and commercially beneficial.

"In addition, I'd also like to thank our event partners, First Event and the NMBS events team for their excellent work in organisation everything.

"Finally, our appreciation and gratitude must also go to all the sponsors whose commitment and support help make the conference possible. This includes headline sponsor Makita as well as IKO, Alumasc Water Management Solutions, Encon, Marsh Industries, Dickies, HiKoki and Crystal."

- ENDS -


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Conference success.NMBS has staged a highly successful all-industry conference for the UK's merchanting sector.

For more information on this story, contact Wayne Leith at 

Notes to editors: 

  • NMBS (National Merchant Buying Society) is the UK's largest buying group for independent builder's, plumbing and heating, timber and hardware merchants.
  • Since its formation over 50 years ago in 1963, NMBS has continued to grow and evolve. Today it represents more 1000 merchant members and enjoys collective buying power in excess of £1.7BN. It uses this buying power to negotiate favourable prices and terms for members from over 600 brand leading, building industry suppliers.
  • Collectively, NMBS members operate more than 3000 branches nationwide and achieve annual sales of £7BN. This equates to approximately 40% of the value of the entire merchanting sector. 
  • Further value-adding services offered by NMBS include credit insurance, marketing support and access to a dedicated and secure portal known as the ‘Report Centre'. This enables members and suppliers to deal with many day-to-day transactional requirements online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
  • NMBS also stages regular networking, knowledge sharing and trading events that bring together both its members and suppliers. These events include the NMBS Golf Day, the NMBS Gala Dinner, the NMBS Dinner Dance, the NMBS All-Industry Conference and the NMBS Exhibition.
  • As part of its commitment to ‘Strengthening Independents', NMBS not only delivers services and events to enhance the profitability and success of its members but also acts as a voice and as a champion for the independent merchanting sector.