Has there ever been a more decisive opportunity for unity amongst independent trade operators than now? Brett Martin, National Trade Operational Manager for Independent Hardware Group (IHG) puts his perspective on how independent timber merchants should draw strength from one another in an ever-increasing competitive landscape.

Despite the ever-present predictions of a softening housing market and the continued pressures from corporate big-boxes on small business, we are experiencing an exciting period for independent trade operators with plenty of growth opportunities up for grabs to those groups who can deliver a truly national value proposition for the trade customer.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the trade supplies sector has undergone several metamorphoses over the past century, but perhaps never to the extent that we are currently experiencing. We have established players growing and we have many others exiting. But despite the movements, the $16b trade market still remains highly fragmented with no clear player servicing the sector on a national basis.

This points to further rationalisation and market consolidation as inevitable. The need for independents to unite and work together to deliver a compelling and superior trade offer for their customer is now.

IHG – Strength in Numbers

Independent Hardware Group (IHG) is the largest channel of independent home improvement and trade operators in Australia, and the primary supply channel to the timber and builders market. IHG was formed in 2016 when the two largest hardware, timber and building supplies networks – Mitre 10 and Home Timber & Hardware, came together under Metcash ownership to form a new $2 billion entity.

Today, IHG proudly acts as a business partner to over 700 ‘bannered’ stores and 1,000 unbannered’ independent retailers – many of these some of the largest timber merchants in the country. Our collective volume is our greatest strength, giving us powerful leverage to keep our members competitive and viable in their respective market, and take the fight up on behalf of members to the big guys.

  • Unmatched buying power that comes from being a $2.1b business
  • A clear number two in the Australian home improvement market
  • Arguably the largest timber merchant in Australia – over $800m combined volume
  • Network coverage across every metro and regional corridor in Australia

Protect & Grow Our Members’ Businesses

Our mission statement is to protect and grow our members’ competitive position, profitability and market share. By working together in strong partnerships with our members and key suppliers, we believe there is clear scope to grow and shape the trade industry for the betterment of independents.

How do we do that? We help our members to build successful and viable long-term businesses, not just through the product we supply but through business support tools and services, financial reward for group loyalty and, importantly, working collaboratively in trade cluster groups.

A Model Suited To Independent Business

Our transparent and low-cost model is designed to give independent trade businesses a compelling and competitive advantage in their local market by focusing on what’s important to Independents:

  • Rebate structures that reward volume and loyalty – over $72m in rebates delivered back to IHG members in FY18
  • Leveraging our scale to buy better for our members, across all key trade categories
  • Investment in trade technologies that lower our members’ cost to serve and encourage customer loyalty eg. Truck Tracker, Tradies Online, Trade+
  • Business support programs that drive sustainable sales growth
  • A business model that focuses on locally-owned, trade heritage and relationships

Together, IHG and our members have decades of history servicing the trades. This proud family heritage and local relationships will continue to play a key role in our future potential. Together, we’re well placed for growth using our scale and national reach to position independents as the tradies’ most reliable, long-term business partner.

If you would like to discuss how IHG can add value to your business, please contact me for a discussion

Brett Martin on 0419 734 178.