The Irish sawmilling contingent at Interbuild, on a high-profile shared Enterprise Ireland stand supported by state forestry operation Coillte, made arguably the biggest impact of any national grouping at the show.

The initiative, said Coillte managing director Tim Crowley, was part of a drive to develop new customers and markets, partly in the wake of the downturn in Ireland’s economy and particularly its building sector.

“These are companies who have invested a lot of money into the most modern plants in Europe and they’re looking for markets,” he said.

“The feedback from prospective UK customers has been very positive; they like the quality, the fact that our timber is FSC-certified, plus the rapid delivery they can get from Ireland.”

Among the exhibitors, Glennon Brothers highlighted its CLS and C16 graded sawn timber, including eased edge products.

“We have always sold into the UK, but it’s now about increasing our profile,” said a spokesperson.

He added that Scandinavian and German timber shortages were benefiting Glennons’ UK business, and the ability of its two Scottish sawmills – Adam Wilson & Sons and Windymans Timber – to deliver individual lorry loads was an added attraction to customers who didn’t want to overstock.

Murray Timber, which had samples of its C16 timber, including 3x2in, 5x2in, 6x2in and 8x2in products for visitors to see first hand, said its UK exports were now running at 1,400m³ a week.

“People here know about James Jones and BSW but they won’t necessarily know the Irish sawmills,” said sales director Patrick Murray. “So we’re raising awareness.”

Daryl Fahy, general manager of ECC Timber Products, said that competition between mills in Ireland was usually fierce but the joint Interbuild appearance made sense to maximise export opportunities. He added that, following investment in new equipment, ECC will soon add CLS PAR to its rough sawn offer.

Mr Crowley concluded that the Anglo-Irish timber trade is now set to grow further, with the growth of the UK timber frame market and drive to zero carbon construction providing added impetus.

“It’s supply and demand,” he said. “We’ve got the supply, the UK has the demand.”