Construction software firm Ramesys has set up an electronic trading system to link the UK's two largest builders merchants with 2500 contractors.
Travis Perkins and Jewson, which make up about 50% of the merchants market, will be using the Xchange system The 2500 contractors, which are Ramesys clients, will use their existing software to buy from the merchants via Ramesys' communications hub.

Mark Chambers, managing director of the £100m-turnover software house, said: "We have produced a uniquely integrated system that allows transactions to be processed from the client's back offices through to the supplier. There will be greater efficiency and cost savings." One of the claimed benefits of the system is that it allows the integration of contractors' and builders merchants' systems.

This means that a contractor drawing up a tender can use Xchange to import pricing information from the merchant into its estimating system.

Once the contractor has ordered the material, again through Xchange, merchants can use their accounts software to invoice the contractors.

Frank Smith, IT director at Travis Perkins, said the system allowed firms to use their existing procurement process.

The system is to go live in June. Clients of Ramesys will get free upgrades of their software, allowing them to communicate with Xchange. Each transaction made will incur a small charge.

Travis Perkins said the move was part of a longer-term migration towards e-business. Smith said: "We are working with other suppliers to provide electronic procurement, although this is a significant initiative for us."