Weather is often more of a business driver in the fencing market than general economic factors.

Last year, of course, was one to remember, with stunning demand for timber fence panels across the UK, aided by storm damage repair projects.

One of the larger fence panel producers said it was "so far so good in 2015".

"2014 was phenomenal in terms of fencing volumes, so this year we have had to adjust our forecasts accordingly."

He said the company had looked back at more normal rates of sale and demand to accurately plan its 2015 forecasts. He believes core fencing sales are one-third lower than the same point a year ago.

"But the encouraging thing is we are 11% up on our forecasts so far in 2015," he said.

"Key customers have been making sure they have stock on the ground, they do not want to be caught again.

"We had lots of stock until the end of March; it was a case of holding your nerve.

We had built stocks to a significant level in anticipation of any storm demand."

Of course, if the product does not move, constraints on storage space emerge, making it difficult to keep manufacturing at planned levels.

"But the risk paid off," said the contact. Business had gone up another level since April, with the weather proving kind.

Some manufacturers’ customers have been sitting on too much stock but generally stocks are moving through and replenishment orders are coming in.

Contacts reported that round timber prices have plateaued. They had soared through the early part of last year, increasing approximately 10% because of demand, with manufacturers not having yet fully recovered that cost implication.

"Pricing is always a difficult conversation but last year taught us to share more price information with customers," said a contact.

Another manufacturer estimated the entire timber garden products sector would grow by about 2% in 2015.

"Fencing sales cannot be as good as last year, but there are small increases in new housing and people have a little bit more money available," he said.

There certainly seems to be no shortage of raw material as the strength of the pound means more imported components are flowing into the UK.

The manufacturer has built stocks during the winter, keeping to its policy of carrying more product than required.

"March was fairly quiet and Easter came early so the spike in demand may have been less pronounced than normal. May is going to be good," he said.

Meanwhile, there is interesting talk about the trend in the UK’s garden centres, with them expected to continue to develop into entertainment destinations and hubs of garden design rather than somewhere just to buy a replacement fence panel.

"The challenge [for the manufacturer] is to make ourselves a little bit better. There is more awareness with the public of how they want to design their own garden," one told TTJ.

He sees a growth of more aestheticallypleasing products, with people trading up to higher priced fencing products.

On the raw material price front he does not think the price will reduce quickly.

"And providing sterling proves stable, if there are any increases it will be in the low single digits, with very low single-digit finished product price increase opportunities."

Like fencing raw material, pallet timber is in good supply with the exchange rate encouraging imports. With the euro cheap and demand in Europe fairly slack, imports have been steadily coming into the market in the second half of 2014 and so far in 2015.

"We anticipated supply being much tighter than it is," said one contact.

In addition, the large volumes of Swedish construction wood which have come into the UK have meant a changing dynamic, with UK sawmills offering more pallet wood.

For the operators who responded to the tight supply of early last year by agreeing contracts to guarantee security of supply, the currency swing has been a negative factor.

But despite this, some say they still believe such moves to secure supplies in the medium to long term are right.

"For us it’s been a pretty good start to the year, the construction trade has been building in the last few weeks and we’re ahead of budget. We did expect 2015 to be a busy year."

The latest figures available on the supply of new timber pallets in the UK show a slight increase. The figures – which relate to the full year 2013 – were produced by Timbertrends in a report commissioned jointly by TIMCON and the Forestry Commission. They show the quantity of newly manufactured and repaired pallets increased by just over 1% to approximately 66.2 million in 2013.

New pallets grew by 4.5% to 31.4 million and repaired pallets fell slightly to 34.8 million compared to the previous year. Manufacturers were expecting a further growth in turnover in 2014.

This year the European Federation of Wooden Pallet and Packaging Manufacturers (FEFPEB) will be held in Cork, Ireland on October 29-30.