EH Smith, the region’s leading independent builders’ merchant, said reducing emissions and easing traffic congestion drove the decision to open a new branch in Birmingham city centre.
John Parker, chairman of EH Smith, said the new store would lessen lorry movements around the city centre, which is undergoing a construction boom, and allow builders shorter drives to collect materials as part of the company’s backing of the proposed Clean Air Zone in the city centre, which is set to come into operation in January 2020.
Roger Godsiff, MP for Birmingham Hall Green, toured the new branch in Brighton Road, Balsall Heath, on July 12 and heard about the environmental agenda set out by EH Smith.
Mr Parker said: “We welcome the news this week from Birmingham City Council about the Clean Air Zone from January 2020 and we welcome the opportunity to show Mr Godsiff what a local business is doing to help.
“There are huge levels of investment going on in Birmingham, which look likely to continue for many years, especially with HS2, the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and the continued transformation of city centre living. It is right that we assess the air quality impact in the city centre of an increase of lorries and other construction traffic.
“We specifically invested in our new central site on Brighton Road to help reduce our lorry movements and emissions, increase productivity and provide our customers with a faster delivery service.”
The Brighton Road branch opened in March and serves the city centre and local communities for walk-in purchases as well as collection for ordered stock.
He said the investment was not the only way the company was enforcing its environmental agenda and strategic business plan, which involves reducing fleet movements to save energy and reduce congestion, adding: “As a business we will not only be fully compliant to help reduce emissions as we deliver building materials from our burgeoning city centre business, but are actively going over and above with a range of environmentally-friendly measures across the company.
“This includes continually investing in a modern fleet, including low-emission, clean air compliant vehicles. Indeed, most of our 69-strong fleet are already compliant.”
During the visit, Mr Godsiff said: “I’d like to congratulate EH Smith on the launch of their new branch and for their innovative thinking: providing a quick and convenient city centre service for tradespeople working on developments in the city centre, served by a new delivery fleet, which reduces delivery mileage and emissions and so will actively support the city’s Clean Air Zone when it is launched in 2020. It’s also great to hear local people are taking advantage of the branch for their DIY needs too.
“The investment made by EH Smith, not only in central Birmingham, but in their ten branches across the wider West Midlands, and their commitment to employing local people is commendable. Three quarters of their staff at this new branch are from the local area and are new to the business. EH Smith is supporting them with training and qualifications to build a long, term sustainable career with the company, which is excellent. I wish them all the best as they look forward to their centenary in our Commonwealth Games year, 2022.”