TRAINING and employee development were high on the agenda when MP Mel Stride visited Bradfords Building Supplies’ Moretonhampstead branch recently.

Mekl, who is Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, learned how the builder’s merchant continues to invest in and develop its people, having first started operating as an employer in the South West more than 250 years ago.

This included the value merchants bring locally through job creation and serving the regional economy, as well as the vocational training Bradfords provides, including its hugely successful apprenticeship programme and FastTrack management scheme.

Mel, the MP for Central Devon, and Bradfords’ head of sustainability, Giles Bradford, discussed the need to support constituents in making environmentally responsible choices for their building projects and enabling the wider construction industry to embrace the opportunities presented by the Government’s national retrofit strategy.

The issue of phosphate pollution and the impact it is having on the construction industry in the South West was also addressed.

Mr Stride was welcomed by Giles Bradford, the BMF’s head of policy Brett Amphlett, general manager of the Moretonhampstead branch Daniel Mullin, and deputy branch manager Mark Bailey.

Mel Stride said: ‘With skills being key to growing the economy, I was interested to hear about Bradfords’ long-standing commitment to supporting career development at all levels in the company and to witness the enthusiasm of its Moretonhampstead team.

‘I also enjoyed visiting such a long-standing family business and learning more about its ongoing efforts to support our local construction sector, including their work to help builders and renovators prepare for the requirements – and opportunities – of a more sustainable construction sector as we move towards Net Zero.

Giles Bradford, Bradfords Head of Sustainability, added, ‘Driven by a national agenda to meet the government’s net carbon zero targets, between now and 2050, in excess of 2 million homes in the region will need retrofitting to improve energy efficiency and to decarbonise.

‘But soaring energy costs over the last two years means that the future of housing is also about residents mitigating against any further energy price hikes.

‘That’s not easy and Bradfords is passionate about supporting its customers across the South West in rising to this challenge.

‘We welcomed the opportunity to talk about these important issues with Mr Stride, and to also discuss Bradfords’ ongoing work to develop the careers of all 900 of its employees across its network of branches in the South West.

‘As the region’s oldest builder’s merchant, Bradfords has always looked to support the communities in which it operates and a significant part of that is the valuable role it can play in local job creation.’

Training and development opportunities at Bradfords includes its FastTrack programme – which develops 12 potential managers each year, putting them through a series of training and management workshops – and its apprenticeship scheme, which gives apprentices access to all aspects of the business, allowing them to become multi-skilled in their role.

Bradfords is also working closely with Exeter and South Devon colleges to equip the next generation of construction apprentices with the skills required for the future of construction and the domestic retrofit agenda.