The TIMCO Hug in Action at Buttle’s Builders Merchants

08 March 2023

TIMCO is one of the UK’s leading wholesale suppliers to the UK construction and industrial sectors with over 5000 independent merchants across the UK and Ireland.

Established in 1972 and headquartered in Nantwich, Cheshire, we provide more than 8,000 essential products that trade professionals rely on every day. TIMCO has achieved continuous growth over the last 50 years by staying true to its core values which set it apart from its competitors.

The company’s acquisition by the Bufab Group in 2022 will enable TIMCO to accelerate its growth and continue expanding the range of products and services it offers, while still providing industry-leading support, services and products to its builders’ merchants such as Buttle’s.

One such example of these values is the ‘TIMCO hug’ – an umbrella of support packages designed to drive customer growth in a competitive market, through provision of expert advice including products and sales.

Our 20-strong team of Regional Business Consultants continue to advise customers on both market and product range analysis. They are also able to provide best practice guidelines gained from experience in the sector, enabling them to produce bespoke plans for each TIMCO customer. This function is backed up with a dedicated, experienced merchandising team which implements a professional, customer focussed in-store and events experience.

Last year, Regional Business Manager Andrew Moore sat down with Head of Commercial Hannah Brunton to understand the current challenges being faced by Buttle’s and how they could work collaboratively with TIMCO to increase sales across its three branches. Buttle’s is an independently owned timber and builders’ merchant, dating back to 1919 and still operating from its original site in Kentish Town as well as branches in St Albans and Leighton Buzzard. 

TIMCO and Buttle’s first started working together approximately nine months ago. The three branches had no defined range of nails, screws and fixings making it difficult for them to promote to customers and for customers to shop. Over the last six months, Hannah set to work with our southern based Regional Business Manager, Andrew Moore to develop and implement a core and extended range to be launched into the Buttle’s branches. 

Both Buttle’s and TIMCO share the same ethos of being independently minded; always developing new ideas and services as well as adapting and changing to suit the needs of customers. So has been a natural fit when developing a bespoke plan dedicated to Buttle’s.

Hannah says: “Andrew has been incredibly helpful in co-ordinating the review from a TIMCO perspective and ensuring the best range possible was put together to set us up for future success.”

“I outlined what I was looking to achieve and why and Andy completely got it. An initial range was put forward and following discussions was agreed. It was bit of a leap of faith for us, the category hadn’t been performing that well so giving over more space was a risk, but it is paying off”

The end result has been a complete overhaul. Working alongside the TIMCO Sales Support Team, new product ranges, racking, Point-of-Sale and an overarching layout have all contributed to a much better ‘flow’ across all three Buttle’s branches.

Hannah adds: “Since the review and subsequent branch changes, sales across the category have significantly increased and our customers are now using us more for nails, screws and fixings. The offer is now extremely credible, and we have good stock levels so customers can rely on us for their essential building products. We are really pleased with the performance and have seen a volume increase in 2022 of over 140% on the previous year, which is a fantastic achievement and credit to everyone’s hard work.”

Regional Business Consultant Andrew Moore said: “On a personal note, I am immensely proud of the changes made across Buttle’s branches and delighted with the latest results. The TIMCO business model is to support customer businesses, enabling them to compete with national operators and this case study is proof that a collaborative approach can be successful today. I am excited to see the ongoing sales growth and enhanced customer satisfaction at Buttle’s as well as looking forward to continuing this working relationship over the next twelve months.”

But what’s next for Buttle’s as Hannah concludes: “As a business, we will continue to move forwards with TIMCO. We will undertake regular category and range reviews as well as industry leading working practices for the benefit of all. In 2023, we will keep an eye on new products and improve our light side sales. I am hopeful of further opportunities with TIMCO and in turn, hope we continue to be easy to trade with. We want to keep providing great customer satisfaction and ensure they #buildwith buttles in the future!”

Energy Crisis
25 October 2022

As the raised energy price cap pushes up the average household bill to approx. £3,450 per year from October and concerns across the country are reaching fever pitch, we’re looking at whether there are plans in place to help the sector. As an industry that relies on energy-intensive materials and heavy machinery, construction is feeling very exposed to the effects of price shocks.

While households have an energy price cap, businesses have not previously had that relative luxury. Rising energy costs have had a direct impact on the cost of materials and how sites operate.

Actively monitoring the energy market and making bulk purchases can help reduce energy costs but are there any plans to help the industry survive the current crisis?

The government has finally listened to the desperation of businesses and introduced the Energy Bill Relief Scheme to help business owners with soaring energy costs. This new scheme will fix electricity and wholesale gas prices for all non-domestic energy customers. Although it is worth noting that the level of price reduction your business will get will depend on the type of contract you’re on. It is not however a ‘cap’ on prices but rather a discount on the wholesale price suppliers pay for energy and currently will only run for 6 months, starting on 1st October. A recent announcement has allowed businesses to backdate to 1st December.

In August, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launched a consultation on support for energy-intensive industries, including cement, steel and glass manufacturing which would see these industries receive more relief on their electricity and gas bills.

One of the options detailed is also a move by the government to allow businesses to be exempt from environmental and policy costs. As it stands, the exemption has cut costs by 85% but the new consultation would raise this to 100%.

This move reflects higher UK industrial electricity prices than those of other countries, including Europe.

According to the Federation of Master Builders, 98% of its members are facing rising material prices. They are recommending a cut in VAT to 0% for repair, maintenance and improvement work in the short term. In the longer term they suggest a nationwide retrofitting programme be introduced. This would provide a pipeline of work for construction as well as slash the cost of homeowners’ energy bills.

At Buttle’s we’re doing what we can to alleviate the pressure, both for ourselves and our customers. This includes monitoring the market and manufacturers, bulk buying and looking at cost reductions to keep prices as low as we possibly can.  



How much?!

 13 July 2022

how much

There is only one topic on everyone’s lips at the moment, inflation. With numbers reaching historic levels of over 25% we want to look at the impact this is having across the construction industry and how you can mitigate it. With 2022 already plagued by material shortages in the early part of the year and fuel repeatedly hitting record highs, the continuing rise of inflation has seen businesses facing real challenges.

Over the last 18 months we’ve seen prices continue to rise on materials due to lengthening lead times and growing demand. This has made it increasingly difficult for manufacturers and suppliers to build up stock levels. Factor in the impact of the war in Ukraine and the direct impact on material costs as both Russia and Ukraine are critical suppliers of metals, raw materials, chemical products and machinery and we are seeing an extended period of economic uncertainty.

Availability has improved since the beginning of the year. We are still seeing some availability issues on products such as bricks and blocks but timber and chipboard have seen significant improvement as the market becomes more adept at managing supply.

Average energy bills rose by 54% in April, which is putting pressure on construction firms due to energy intensive industries including concrete, steel and cement passing on the impact of higher prices. The increase in the price of raw materials in March was the highest in six months.

So how can you avoid falling victim to soaring inflation?

Manage expectations: It is important to discuss the details and potential pressures that might lie ahead in delivery ahead of time. Don’t tie your quotes to current prices. Show the cost of labour and materials separately, ensure that the customer is aware that prices on materials are likely to change and they will pay the cost on ordering.

Consider your options: Are there any alternative approaches you could take to reduce your exposure to risk but still provide you with the same results?

Plan ahead as best you can: The continued rise of material costs does not look likely to peak any time soon. With that in mind you need to order at your earliest opportunity to limit the chance of future cost inflation.

We understand that these are difficult times and that you’re likely doing all of the above as much as possible already. At Buttle’s we will support you by continuing to offer the best possible price for your materials and offering you clear and honest advice.