The president of the British Home Enhancement Trades Association is departing the housewares industry to join the Builders Merchants Federation, leaving the future of BHETA's presidency uncertain for the time being.
John Newcomb has been commercial director of Imperial International for eight years and BHETA president for two. He informed board members at BHETA of his imminent departure in order to take on the role of BMF managing director last week. Traditionally, his BHETA post would be assumed by the vice president, in this case the managing director of Hamilton Acorn, John Grayson. However, with Mr Grayson announcing his intention to leave Hamilton a few months ago and opting out of taking up the presidency, the role has been opened up to the board.
DIY sector director Peter Stone told DIY Week: "No one saw it coming, we were quite blindsided by it. We knew he was thinking of a change, but no one expected him to move away from housewares.
"But it is actually quite good timing, as our AGM is in September so the forms have just gone out to members to apply to sit on the board at BHETA. In a week or so we should know if anyone from the board is interested in taking on the presidency, or the vice president spot. If no one is, we will open it up to members."
He added that while it is traditionally the case that a board member would take on the presidency, no applications for joining the board itself had yet been received.
Mr Newcomb's new post at the BMF, whose 300-plus members have a combined turnover in excess of £10bn, will commence on August 1. His past roles include senior level marketing and md roles with manufacturers including H&R Johnson, Sandvik Saws & Tools UK and Addis Group. He has been an active member of the trade association for 15 years.
BMF chairman Terry Parker said Mr Newcomb would bring "a rare mix of commercial experience and understanding of both being a member of a trade organisation and the running of one" to the federation.
Meanwhile, BHETA has announced that a raft of new members have joined the organisation as a result of new services aimed at driving member sales.
Peter Stone said: "We've seen a tremendous upturn in new member applications and are delighted to welcome great names in the DIY industry to the fold. Brands like Worx Tools, Richard Burbage, 3M, Shurtape, Sterling Locks, Rustins, Method Home, Masterlock and Mirka Abrasives have signed up in the last few months following the launch of the new BHETA website and the much more positive market driving stance that it supports.
"Services including sales and marketing resources, asset sharing, market research, export and distributor introductions, and selling forums like our recent 'Meet The Buyers' event with Homebase, are all about helping members not just survive but flourish."
BHETA has also recently recruited housewares brand Swan Products.