Haldane Fisher celebrate a year of wins

2022 has been a golden year for Haldane Fisher, winner of multiple accolades including the prestigious Octabuild Award for Excellence at the first all-island awards.

Take a bow, Haldane Fisher. This leading independent supplier to the Irish and UK construction industry has been hailed best of the best in 2022.

The Newry-based Group scooped the coveted overall Octabuild Award for Excellence at the inaugural all-island Octabuild Builders Merchant Excellence Awards; plus the Northern Ireland Regional Award.

And the kudos keep coming: Builders Merchants Federation Training Company of the Year. Highly Commended at the Irish eComm Awards for DIY, Home, Furniture and Interior Design eCommerce Website of the Year. Shortlisted for BMA Builders Merchant of the year (6-20 branches). And Plumbmaster, being just recently awarded the prestigious Merchant Award for Customer Commitment at the Plumbing and Heating Awards 2022.

Plumbmaster Counter

“The prizes and profile will boost awareness and confidence among customers and industry partners,” says Gary Cranney, Newry branch manager. “Winning benefits staff morale, demonstrating that their good work is recognised on a bigger stage and they’re making a contribution.”

Across all areas, from brands to efficiency to customer engagement, Haldane Fisher stays ahead of the trends. Now they’re reaping the rewards.

Has it all

Serving both trade and public for building and home improvement, Haldane’s vast range can supply everything required.

Customers from large contractors to tradesmen, self-builders, DIYers and homeowners will find building materials, timber and sheeting, roof trusses and materials, lighting, painting and decorating. Also a Dulux decorating centre, doors, floors, ironmongery, garages, bathroom supplies, plumbing and heating. Even Aga cookers.

Haldane Fisher are well served by 20 branches across GB and Northern Ireland.

The business has grown organically and through acquisition since its foundation in 1946 by Bob Haldane in a yard beside Newry Canal. Yet it still retains the high levels of personal service associated with a family-run business.

The Newry branch is the headquarters and flagship store, located near the A1 linking Dublin and Belfast. The 14-acre site incorporates a state-of-the-art sawmill, roof truss factory, door reprocessing factory, plumbing and heating department, building materials warehouses and business operations.

Quality line-up

Haldane partner with multiple suppliers, stocking brands such as: Hormann, Velux, Brett Martin, Xtratherm, Keystone, Breedon, Gyproc, and Isover.

“This year we welcomed HSS Hire to Newry, enabling customers to quickly and easily access a wide range of equipment and tools,” Gary explains.

In recent years Haldane Group added new divisions: GE Robinson, Plumbmaster, Prowood, Key Hardware and Bathline, spurring business expansion. Sales in the Newry branch alone have increased 100% over the last decade.


Diverse customers, but one priority, “to get everything in one place at an affordable, competitive price, with friendly service by knowledgeable staff.”

Gary has praise for his 200-strong Newry team. “We go the extra mile; demonstrated by excellent customer care from experts passionate about ensuring the best possible experience.”

Because “the key factor in our growth has been the skill and commitment of our people,” developing and valuing employees forms an integral part of the business. Leading by example is key.

“We embed our family values into everything we do. We pride ourselves on putting the customer first and treating them with dignity and respect. We structure the business and conduct our trade with integrity, honesty and fairness.”

These values are based on a strong heritage. The fourth-generation enterprise is a family affair, with Ian Haldane (Group Managing Director) and David Haldane (Managing Director), the founder’s grandsons, actively involved.

Gary believes in the importance of being approachable. “I walk the whole site from top to bottom every morning, so I’m aware of everything going on.”

Health and safety matters. But equally vital, continuous team development. “We’re proud to invest in our colleagues. We have a large percentage of long-serving employees, many with over 25 years’ service.” The Group offers opportunities for internal and external training across diverse disciplines. The introduction of the Haldane Group Academy online training portal delivers learning for all staff.

As a member of the Builders Merchants Federation, training is available across all branches at the start of an employee’s career.

“Skills are further nurtured through our Talent Development Programme which identifies aptitude, then steers an employee to prospects that match their abilities and maximise their potential.”

Also on offer: a Level 5 Diploma Accountancy, foundation degrees in cloud computing, data analytics and security for industry, also in digital marketing, advertising, and communication.

Trade Counter


Competition aside, the current challenges are the cost-of-living crisis and the price of materials. Balancing this out, “the many opportunities ahead for the Group regarding further expansion throughout Ireland and the UK.” The company seizes these opportunities through innovation and diversification. Such as entering new markets: door re-processing and specialist hardwoods with Prowood, while Key Hardware signals a move
into specialist light hardware and ironmongery.

Haldane also got a head start on e-Commerce, developing their site prior to Covid and launching as the pandemic began, ahead of many competitors. “Ongoing research into the market, people, products and what’s trending ensures the company stays current and in line with customer needs and competitor actions,” explains Gary.

Responding to customer feedback, Haldane is on a journey to becoming completely digitised which will bring numerous benefits for the company and customers regarding sustainability and accessibility.

The Group also employed a Visual Merchandiser who works directly with every branch manager to ensure stock is attractively displayed, motivating purchases.

Floor plans and planograms standardise all branches, and regular meetings with managers provide insight into trends and address merchandising needs.

Tech solutions

With research and innovation paramount for efficiency and development, technology plays a huge role. Projects such as electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) technology, and digital signature capture bring enhanced visibility of actions in real time, reducing customer queries.

The roll-out of a new communications system enables far more effective management through reporting and action plans, quicker response times, overflow capabilities and Saturday support in a ‘work from home’ capacity.

Links from the ERP System to the website now ensure staff can view the latest information on all products at a click.

Introducing Sales Dashboards of core KPIs, such as live quotations, customer queries and low stock volumes, confirms task completion.

Targeting climate change

“For some time, we’ve realised customers are looking more closely at the environmental impact of our business,” notes Gary. In 2020/2021, the Group signed up to The Carbon Pledge to reduce output by at least 30%. “We looked at all areas of operations, from upgrading office and warehouse lighting to better energy efficiency. Starting with simple things which gave instant gains, such as rainwater harvesting for our timber treatment plant.

A vehicle management system now measures ‘idling’ times.”

“We also monitored electricity use, particularly in high-consumption areas like manufacturing, to identify the most economic runs for each machine. Coordinating the length and timing of each run reduced the overall kWh’s consumed.”

In that first year, Haldane saved fuel equivalent to 70 tonnes of Co2e. At the same time, through colour coding skips and teamwork, the business slashed the volume of waste going to landfill.

“We’re continuing our journey towards net zero through measures such as installing solar panels throughout the Newry site and changing fleet policy.” Introducing hybrid cars and specifying lower Co2 fleet cars, Haldane cut their average Co2 per vehicle from 130g/km a few years ago to 65 g/km. Almost 25% of the NI fleet are full EVs. The EV transformation will encompass the forklift fleet and diesel counterbalance trucks, with side loaders and all company vans to follow. To help make the switch, electric charging points are onsite.

Over the past two years, the Group has been on track to meet the carbon target.

Working in partnership with Business in the Community, Haldane Fisher have BS8555 Environmental accreditation and achieved gold status in their NI Environmental Benchmarking Awards 2019. When sourcing, green credentials are essential.

Supply chains are under constant review to confirm they fulfill industry sustainability standards. All timber products must meet PEFC or FSC compliance. And Haldane collaborate with Nipak to measure and manage packaging waste.

Growth plan

As Gary observes, “more than ever, customers seek high quality, good value products. Having always believed quality, price and service are essential pillars, we’re well-placed for the future.” This ethos, together with recent innovations, come under the banner of Haldane Fisher’s three-year strategic growth plan:

  • Building together, for a more sustainable future.
  • Building together to help our customers and staff grow.
  • Building together to maximise our suppliers’ exposure to the market.
  • Building together for a sustainable future.

The plan targets six areas: operational excellence, organic and external growth, people, digitisation, sustainability and financial returns.

Peak profile

Marketing the Group is all about maximising customer engagement. To promote both brand and products, the marketing team combines digital and traditional media. 48-sheet billboards are strategically placed around store sites and in high footfall areas. Company news regularly appears in the local press.

“Boasting a following of 33,000 across all our social media platforms, we’re focused on growing that audience considerably,” says Gary.

“We’ve found incentive-based competitions on platforms including Facebook and Twitter to be effective and popular. But our core strategy is to target the right information to the right customer.”

“So we’ll be tracking 2023 social media trends and insights to increase reach and drive traffic to the Haldane Group webpages, www.haldane-fisher.com, which provides customers and colleagues with information about the company, products and services”.

In addition, the Group uses databases to share product news and promotions via email marketing channels. For customers and suppliers who like their information on paper, a bi-monthly newsletter, TradeZone, is available in-store or online.

All communications through all channels dovetail seamlessly. “We constantly refresh content with seasonal promotions, meet the team, staff training days, education and product spotlights.”

Haldane Fisher’s extensive yard at Newry.

Events and road shows are important and frequent. The 2022 calendar featured a garden design day with Tobermore, a team up with Tec7 for a trade event across all NI branches and a Draper Tools demo.

Proudly local

In Newry, Haldane Fisher support many local community and charity groups and use locally sourced and supplied vehicles, products and building materials wherever possible. “Company and staff go above and beyond to raise funds,” says Gary.

Industry links

As affiliates of the Builders Merchants Federation, the Group promotes industry standards through training, education and adherence to legislation. Haldane are members of Fortis, one of the UK’s leading independent mixed merchant buying groups.


“Our people are what makes us so successful. It’s incredibly important they know they’re valued; an integral part of our business and the Haldane family,” Gary affirms.

Top tips: Look after your people and they’ll look after you. Stay ahead of the market, identify change before it happens and adapt.