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Major builders merchants shut up shop

24 March 2020 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: Dreamstime/Bang Oland

Three of the UK’s biggest builders merchants – Travis Perkins, Buildbase, and Jewson – have closed all their branches, casting doubt on whether or not construction on many sites will be able to continue.

Travis Perkins announced this morning that following prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of a lockdown, it had taken the decision to close all of its branches temporarily and had stopped taking online orders. In a statement it said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused during these extraordinary times but the wellbeing of our colleagues, customers and suppliers is our absolute priority.

“We will be seeking to work with the government over the coming days as to how we can fulfil the essential services that we provide to our country's social infrastructure.”

Buildbase, operated by the Grafton Group, said it was closing all of its branches, including for deliveries, from today (24 March).

“The Grafton Group will use this time to liaise with government advisors to agree if we can continue to operate in a safe and responsible manner of trading, that complies with the letter and spirit of the announcement, with a view to enabling Buildbase to continue to provide essential repair and maintenance products over the next three weeks,” it added.

Jewson said it was closing all of its branches and offices while it sought “urgent clarification” from the government about how it can operate within government guidelines.

“We want to play our part in helping the country overcome this crisis. We have been doing this by taking steps to protect our people from the risk of the virus. We also do this by helping our customers provide essential maintenance of homes and public buildings, helping self-employed customers stay in business and by providing essential livelihoods for all our colleagues,” the company said.

It added that it planned to issue a further update at 5pm today.

Comments

If the government were to provide an income for the self employed, which I believe is just over 5 million, there would be no need for them to work. Then, builders merchants would not need to remain open. Given that we are always being reminded how quickly the Coronavirus travels I think the best thing to do would be to pay the self employed a proper living amount on par with what the employed have been promised. Thus allowing builders merchants to close.

Caroline, 24 March 2020

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