Industry consolidation here to stay26 April 2021
Consolidation in the UK timber sector has been gathering pace in recent years and as we officially enter spring, it seems to have gone up a notch.
Four acquisitions in just two days were announced, representing major moves in the UK sawmilling and timber and builders merchant sectors.
James Jones & Sons’ acquisition of GT Timber, the holding company owning Taylormade Timber Products and Kerr Timber Products, means its annual sawn timber capacity increases to a stellar 800,000m3.
Private equity investment firm Cairngorm Capital Partners also made moves – its Grant & Stone merchanting group acquired 22-branch south-west builders’ merchant RGB Building Supplies and Buildit Gloster. This gives Grant & Stone a combined turnover of £250m, making it the largest independent builders’ merchant group in southern England.
Another Cairngorm Capital entity – the National Timber Group (NTG) acquired Stoke-on-Trent based Hymor Timber, while Kullik & Rullmann AG (K&R) has acquired UK-based Quay Timber Ltd in a move which accelerates development of the group’s online business.
Gaining market share, security of supply and strength in the face of economic challenges are important drivers in worldwide timber industry consolidation. West Fraser’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of global OSB giant Norbord is perhaps the biggest recent example.
As well as consolidation, the hot topic of treated timber continues to stay in the limelight with an announcement by the Association of Fencing Industries (AFI).
The AFI, which represents fencing contractors, manufacturers, stockists and installers of different types of fencing, is recommending that chemically treated timber is only used in ground contact where this is a specific requirement by the client because of concerns raised in an AFI survey about early failures of treated fence posts.
The Timber Trade Federation and Wood Protection Association (WPA) currently have a treated timber awareness campaign with the aim of educating people about correct specification and use of treated timber products. The WPA has invited AFI to resume dialogue on the matter and it has to be noted that much good work has been done on improving treated timber standards, processes and education since CCA was banned.
We will look at preservatives in more detail in our annual Treatment sector focus in the next issue. Lastly, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the TTJ Awards this year and are taking soundings from the industry about whether people are comfortable attending a physical event in September – you will find a link to an online survey. Please let us know your intentions – it will help us gauge whether to organise either a full physical event, a hybrid awards or a virtual event. It would of course be nice to return to a physical event to celebrate a quarter of a century of TTJ Awards!