British Stone, the organisation set up by eight of Britain's major dimensional stone quarry operators in 1995, is reuniting with Stone Federation Great Britain (SFGB). Jane Buxey, director of Stone Federation, says: "Everyone decided it was the right time to go forward together." Ray Symons, the director of British Stone, said: "There are massive benefits that can come out of this."
Representatives of the two organisations met in Newcastle on 22 September prior to the Stone Federation annual conference.
It was the cumbersome committee structure of Stone Federation as well as the election of Chris Tottle as President - he then represented French stone producers Guinet-Derriaz in the UK - that prompted the quarry operators to set up a separate promotional group for themselves in the first place.
The quarry operators did not leave Stone Federation when the new group (then called the Natural Stone Quarries Group) was formed, although Nick Horton, managing director of Bath Stone Group at the time, one of the founders, said they would not be part of the Stone Federation committee structure nor be answerable to the Stone Federation council.
By the time Ray Symons was appointed to direct what had by then become British Stone at the start of 1996, Stone Federation had started to re-organise its committee structure. British Stone achieved financial backing from the Government, but the Government told the industry to work together and before the end of 1996 a condition of being a British Stone member was that companies also had to be members of Stone Federation.
Now the six members and four associate members of British Stone and the 153 members of Stone Federation in various membership categories are coming together under the same umbrella. It has been suggested that the name of the group might be changed to British Stone Federation. It has not yet been decided whether the British Stone name will be retained for promotional purposes or not.
Ray Symons has written a marketing plan for the British stone industry in general, making various recommendations and suggestions for promoting the stone industry with himself co-ordinating the campaign.
In the introduction to his report he says: "The proposed marketing plan for the British stone industry is based on the assumption that all parties are agreed in principle that a new single organisation formed by the amalgamation of British Stone and SFGB will be more effective and better serve the present and future needs of the UK industry in a rapidly changing market place.
"The combined expertise and resources of British Stone and Stone Federation will produce a new organisation stronger in all key areas of marketing, promotion, technical support, information and business advice.
"Wider representation of the industry will create greater credibility in the market place and provide a stronger financial base to achieve our key objectives. Members of British stone and SFGB will receive better value for money through an enhanced CPD programme and greater credibility from a more inclusive and representative membership."
Michael Poultney, whose company, Albion Stone Quarries, was a member of British Stone from the beginning, told Natural Stone Specialist: "I think British Stone was getting to the stage where it was running out of steam.
"We weren't happy about the contraction of the organisation and there were no more pots of government money. We thought we could do better if we could encourage Stone Federation to have Ray under its wing and do more CPD presentations."