HOW TO START A INDEPENDENT BUILDERS MERCHANTS/DIY STORE?

Discussion in 'Tradespeople' started by jack hutchinson, Oct 8, 2020.

  1. jack hutchinson

    jack hutchinson UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Hello everyone,

    This is going to my first post so be gentle. So my ideal business would be to set up an independent builders merchants in my local village or near by village. I came across a post on this topic on here from 2012 and it really was quite informative. My current background is Domestic/Commercial electrician with my own electrical company so i do have a lot of valuable knowledge on the building industry and many contacts already.

    So what i am actually seeking is, has anyone actually opened a hardware store or have experience within this sector they could shed light on.

    Are you item specific?
    Is it best to cover all areas?
    what actually are the initial steps?
    How easy is it to get suppliers on board?
    initial outlay?
    Are more people becoming anti big established merchants?

    Apologies in advance for any naivety.
    Thanks.
     
    Posted: Oct 8, 2020 By: jack hutchinson Member since: Oct 8, 2020
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  2. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

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    First problem is pricing. For everyday items like 8 x 4 sheet materials, aggregates, and timber you are never going to compete with the big boys because you are never going to be buying volume (comparatively). Aggregates are a particularly good example; I can buy sand or ballast in Wickes cheaper than in any builders merchant, and actually cheaper than many suppliers buy it in at. You can't compete with that.
     
    Posted: Oct 8, 2020 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
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  3. jack hutchinson

    jack hutchinson UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    @AllUpHere yes i agree. I'm hoping knowledge and credibility may attract potential customers and materials become secondary perhaps? as personally every time i enter a local B&Q ect the shop floor employees are uni students collecting a paycheck. Possibly specific niches, roofing, fencing ect on top of your usual adhesives and ironmongery.

    again to reiterate this is currently market research and very early stages.
     
    Posted: Oct 8, 2020 By: jack hutchinson Member since: Oct 8, 2020
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  4. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Materials can't be secondary. You can only get so far with better service and knowledge. I think if I were researching this for you I'd be looking at materials that may be more difficult to find. There are so many new and innovative materials these days I'd be starting there. You won't be able to position yourself to be the cheapest, and nobody needs you to be the most knowledgeable guy around with regards to 18mm ply, but making a name for yourself for new innovative products that are either better technically than alternatives, or are useful from a business perspective, would be a decent point of differentiation.
     
    Posted: Oct 8, 2020 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
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  5. jack hutchinson

    jack hutchinson UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    That's a very interesting point, very much appreciate your input and will certainly take it on board. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to somewhat help a stranger!
     
    Posted: Oct 8, 2020 By: jack hutchinson Member since: Oct 8, 2020
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  6. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Ace Free Member

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    There is a local DIY store less than 100 yards away from me and I think the main reason he does OK is that the nearest B&Q or Wickes is 30 miles away. There is a proper builders merchant's around the corner but it is a bit intimidating for a DIY'er.

    Aside from the excellent points above, I think location is crucial in your situation since you can't compete with B&Q no matter how bad they are.
     
    Posted: Oct 8, 2020 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
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  7. Lucan Unlordly

    Lucan Unlordly UKBF Ace Free Member

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    It's a long time since I sold fencing for a living but having recently tried to source some good 6' panels, there appears to be a gap in the market, at least round these parts. Mid Essex.
     
    Posted: Oct 26, 2020 By: Lucan Unlordly Member since: Feb 24, 2009
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  8. bodgitt&scarperLTD

    bodgitt&scarperLTD UKBF Regular Full Member

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    I'm in the trade, and there are chronic shortages of absoloutely everything. It varies, as one thing (say plaster) comes back on stream, supplies of another thing run out (currently timber posts and larchlap panels). A month ago you couldn't get concrete posts for love nor money.

    Round here we had a local start up builders merchant right next door to Travis do very well during the lockdown- simply because they had stock and were willing to deliver, whereas Travis were closed to start. Their other USP is that the have onyl one lorry but a few 3.5t trucks and are willing to do smaller drops, tighter access job and deliver loose aggregates in small quantities. Obviously price needs to reflect this but it's a way that they can give beter service than the big boys.
     
    Posted: Oct 27, 2020 By: bodgitt&scarperLTD Member since: Nov 26, 2018
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  9. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Legend Full Member

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    This is a worldwide problem.

    I am hearing from America and Germany and France about the non-availability of key supplies. In the US and Canada, it is timber. Giant speculators have bought whole counties of uncut, un-felled timber on the hillsides and are not felling the stuff. It is left there to increase in value! In the meantime, the sawmills are crying out for raw materials and some prices have tripled! Raw material speculation is where all that stimulus and QE money is going (according to some).

    Reports from France and Germany speak of shortages of concrete and other chemicals-based materials. My sister-in-law works for one of Europe's largest steel-roofing companies in Alsace-Lorraine and she told me that the various lock-downs have simply played havoc with production schedules.

    Just getting stuff seems to be the building trade's biggest headache right now.
     
    Posted: Oct 27, 2020 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
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  10. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Not just building stuff either.
     
    Posted: Oct 27, 2020 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
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