In this just-in-time world, independent merchants maintain their focus on reviewing and constantly improving services to satisfy loyal customers in a sector where regulations drive changing needs. We asked some of the UK’s top independent merchants what they think makes a great independent. Here’s what they said:

Merchant Vox Pop

Neale Brewster, Howarth Timber

“What makes a good independent is a wide range of products and good knowledgeable staff who go the extra mile to find what the customer wants. With independent merchants you deal with all walks and all levels of sales, from £5,000 self-build accounts to £100,000 a year and above accounts.

At Howarth Timber, all our staff are trained to provide guidance and support. We aim to give all our customers, builders, self-builders and regional builders that same personal service they deserve.”

Cliff Cato, Chestnut Building Centres

“Being an independent merchant can be very challenging, especially when competing with national merchants. We consider our relationship with our supply partners to be crucial in enabling us to compete with the giants of the industry. Quality of product, service and back-up support are as important as price when choosing our suppliers.
With a strong, supportive supply chain behind us, we can confidently compete in the market place with the largest of our competitors.”

Chris Hopkins, Turnbull Builders Merchants

“Turnbull is a long-standing family merchant with a strong ethos and core values. We aim to work with like-minded customers throughout Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. Listening to customers and building relationships with them, as well as recognising and rewarding their loyalty are important to us as independents.

Employing high calibre staff, providing the highest level of service with enthusiasm and expertise is also what makes for a good independent. Additionally, we stock a variety of products from reputable suppliers who we have a strong working relationship with.”

Tom Parker, Parker Building Supplies

“What makes for a good independent builders merchant is simple: to offer the best package to the customer. This is not always being the cheapest, but being the most competitive. It’s about knowledgeable staff who are customer-focused and want to interact with a client, having the correct holding and level of stock and delivering to site to reduce labour charges. Offering the best package for merchant and customer is what makes a good independent merchant!”

What do you think makes a good independent? Let us know: