“Energetic, engaged and delivering to our brief and some.”

Giles Bradford, Communications and Engagement Manager, Bradfords Building Supplies


Media Relations, Communications Strategy, Thought Leadership, Issues & PR Crisis Management, Personal Brand, Award Entries, Social Media Content Creation, Video Production, Social Media Listening

About Bradfords Building Supplies

With its headquarters in Yeovil, Bradfords Building Supplies has been trading since 1770 and is one of the largest independent Builders Merchants in the UK. It has 43 branches throughout the South West, Herefordshire and Worcestershire and employs over 750 staff.

Proud of its heritage but progressive in its thinking, Bradfords wanted to use its 250th anniversary in 2020 as a platform to connect the business with customers and community and promote its core values with an extensive public relations campaign. The initial brief included support around new industry partnerships, branch openings, events and celebrations culminating in Bradfords’ official birthday in Q4.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 and Bradfords’ subsequent decision to be one of the only merchants in the UK to remain operational, the initial campaign pivoted extensively to accommodate a prolonged period of reputation management.

Bradfords already had a number of key milestones planned throughout the year, including events sponsorship, charity partnerships and staff initiatives, but needed a more strategic approach to bring all aspects of its marketing activity together.

AMBITIOUS developed campaign messaging focused around family ownership, South West footprint and Bradfords’ customer centric focus, using the 250th as an underlying theme to help the company bolster its approach to communications.

The outbreak of COVID-19 however brought about an immediate need to pivot the entire focus of the campaign. Having quickly deployed industry leading safety measures, Bradfords made the decision to remain open to its trade customers, making it one of the only builders’ merchants in the UK to remain operational.

Communications activity successfully pivoted to include:

  • Crisis communications & reputation management

AMBITIOUS devised a strategy to manage any negative sentiment via social media or otherwise, regarding staying operational during lockdown.

To date, Bradfords’ social media channels have remained a critical communications tool. A key element of the Bradfords social strategy comprised the posting of content publicising the multitude of essential works being carried out across the region. This included the support of housing associations working on front line projects, and providing the materials for a number of NHS trusts.

AMBITIOUS also created a series of social media assets, including video content, to help publicise key updates and safety precautions.

  • Industry thought leadership

To reinforce the positive messages on social media, a key element of the activity involved the personal profile-raising of Bradfords’ CEO David Young.

Tactics included publishing regular thought leadership posts on David’s personal LinkedIn profile as well as creating bylined articles for placement within leading trade media and Builders’ Merchant Federation communications.

  • Media Relations

To further support Bradfords’ positioning, a series of news announcements were made over the course of the year, including the launch of key Bradfords marketing campaigns, such as ‘We’ve Got Your Back’. This particular campaign was in response to the work being carried out by tradespeople across the South West during the pandemic.

A host of new industry partnerships was also successfully publicised, including new relationships with social housing associations, sponsorship of the Exeter Chiefs rugby team and various initiatives with leading charity Mental Health UK.

Bradfords put a stake in the ground for the industry by remaining open for its trade customers throughout COVID-19. It was critical however that their efforts and motives in doing so were communicated appropriately and consistently. A carefully considered social media strategy and tactical placement within key press resulted in a great deal of positive sentiment:

  • Total audience reach equated to 1,009,418, comprising 55 pieces of positive coverage achieved over the course of the year. This included:
    • 31 pieces of trade coverage
    • 20 pieces within regional publications
    • 4 mentions within national broadsheets
  • Two broadcast interviews were also secured for CEO David Young, including a piece for the ITV Tonight programme, and Fix Radio.
  • Bradfords was named a finalist within the 2020 Business Leader Awards in the category of ‘Family Business of the Year’.
  • 20 social media assets were created, including 5 videos and 12 thought leadership posts were published from CEO David Young’s personal LinkedIn profile. David’s best performing LinkedIn post generated over 25 comments and 16,000 views.

2020 turned out to be a record-breaking year for Bradfords. AMBITIOUS is now working with the builders’ merchant on its 2021 communications objectives, centred around core values within sustainability and its growing community of staff and customers.