Getting the industry’s messages across

At 6-7% of GDP, construction punches below its weight, because people find it complicated and confusing, says Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research. Yet we must build awareness and understanding to attract people into the industry, and help decision makers take good decisions and Government make sensible policy.

What do these organisations have in common? Redrow, Berkeley, Barratt; Travis Perkins, MKM, Huws Grey, EH Smith, SIG, NMBS and NBG; Laing O’Rourke, Kier, Wilmott Dixon, Murphy; Rockwool, Bosch, Tata Steel, Velux; Barclays, UBS, HBSC; McKinsey, Bain, KPMG; CPA, Glenigan, Barbour ABI, Department for Business & Trade, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Justice department, Office for National Statistics; BBC, The Times, Financial Times; US Senate, US State Department, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are among regular visitors to

Some spend a minute. Others return several times. We know when a deal is near because dealmakers and investors spend hours (literally) in a burst of frenetic activity over a few weeks.

BMBI’s three audiences are merchants, their larger customers and suppliers (the core); construction generally; and beyond construction various groups we want to influence as an industry or brand. As BMBI has become established its reach has deepened in its core market and construction, and widened outside.

This accelerated significantly after 2019 when the government included it as a near proxy for RMI alongside the ONS, Bank of England and Experian’s statistics in the Department for Business & Trade’s Monthly Construction Update.

A month ago, listening to a divisional director of a large merchant group explain how they used the Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) reports, I thought how far the industry had travelled since we set it up as a brand of the BMF, using GfK’s gold standard statistics.

The director said, my team and I spend an hour of our monthly management meeting going through the BMBI report comparing our performance with the market to see how we’re doing. Then in the rest of the meeting we focus on what we’re going to do to improve it.

His words stuck in my mind because it was the second such conversation I’d had in a couple of months. BMBI is crucial to how we manage the business, the second director said, because it is the market.

Yet, seven years ago, a year after we’d set up BMBI, I’d been cornered by senior managers from two large regional merchants who said the reports look impressive, but what do we do with them? How exactly do we use BMBI?

BMBI’s reach is still expanding, in and outside the industry, in the UK and internationally, as leading brands explain their markets and build their brands. In this quarter’s report we welcome three new Experts: Deceuninck for Windows and Doors, Brett Martin for Plumbing and Drainage, and Polypipe Building Products for Heating and Cooling. The more markets we make sense of, the more value we add for users, in or outside the industry, and the better for construction. New Experts are always welcome.

This article was first published in the Builders Merchants News magazine.