Breaking down the borders in Ireland’s merchant trade

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) held a historic meeting consisting of members from across Ireland, who gathered together for the first time.

Twenty-four delegates, representing 12 merchants and several building material suppliers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, attended the meeting at the BMF’s first Regional Centre of Excellence south of the border, at the Xtratherm Innovation Centre in Navan.

The meeting, which was jointly chaired by David Haldane, BMF regional chair for Northern Ireland, and Dennis O’Connor, AMBA chairman, focused on bringing together merchants and suppliers who shared a mutual interest in improving all aspects of their business including improving the customer experience and promoting awareness of the merchant industry, both as a career and to other industries such as architects and engineers.

Other key areas of commonality included promotion of Health & Safety and responding to the challenges of on-line and “direct to market” competition which was followed by a presentation from eCommonsense on digital opportunities.

Brexit and the border issue prompted further discussion, with BMF chief executive, John Newcomb, providing an update from their recent Brexit Forum together with BMF policy officer, Brett Amphlett’s key tips on preparing for a “No Deal”.

Speaking after the event, John Newcomb said: “We, at the BMF are delighted to facilitate a meeting with some of the best merchants and suppliers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where open and constructive dialogue could take place covering key areas of commonality that add value to members businesses. The feedback from delegates in attendance is excellent and we look forward to continuing to deliver our benefits to our members.”