Coillte Panel Products is part of Irish forestry conglomerate Coillte Teoranta.
• The combination of the Medite and SmartPly panels businesses has given Coillte a turnover in excess of €175m.
• Promotion of the Medite and SmartPly brands under the Coillte name will be ongoing.

Some people find pronouncing the word Coillte a bit of a problem. Geoff Rhodes, marketing and business development director of the new Coillte Panel Products amalgamation of Medite and SmartPly, has an easy answer…think Wiltshire and it simply rolls off the tongue!

Coillte Panel Products is part of Coillte Teoranta, the Irish forestry conglomerate, and represents more than half of the group’s turnover. And Coillte Teoranta is a force to be reckoned with – owning more than 445,000ha of land, which accounts for 7% of Ireland’s land cover.

“The new identity of Coillte Panel Products only emerged on June 1 this year,” explained Mr Rhodes. “Medite became part of Coillte in November last year and we have spent the past few months getting our heads around the new business. We have come through the process of sharing and understanding the intricacies of Medite’s MDF and SmartPly’s OSB businesses and have now launched a combined identity to the market.”


Medite was part of Weyerhaeuser which decided, in November 2005, to divest itself of its chipboard and MDF production facilities in North America and Europe.

“It took a year, to November 2006,” said Mr Rhodes, “by which time all the North American particleboard and MDF mills had been sold to the Canadian group, Flakeboard. Medite was the last element of the composite panels business, and Coillte became the successful acquisition partner on November 27.” The purchase, at €66m, was Coillte’s largest to date.

As a consequence, Medite and SmartPly found themselves sister companies within the same group. The SmartPly plant was Coillte’s first panel products operation. It had started life in Waterford in 1996 as a joint venture between Coillte and Louisiana-Pacific, but Coillte took full ownership in 2002.

The combination of the two panels businesses has given Coillte a turnover in excess of €175m, making it a powerful player in Europe’s composite board arena. And the fact that both have Forest Stewardship Council certification allows Coillte to deliver a strong message to specifiers about the sustainability of the products.

Now the task is to communicate clearly to the market exactly who and what Coillte Panel Products is, said Mr Rhodes. “We are an international business with two significant manufacturing facilities – one in OSB and one in MDF – and we need to drive both forward.”

Medite FR

One of Medite’s specialities has been the development of flame retardant MDF. “Within Europe alone, every day up to 12 people die and another 120 are severely injured because of fires and the economic damage amounts to around €25bn a year,” said Mr Rhodes.

In a bid to strengthen safety in buildings, Medite FR has undergone stringent laboratory testing – and the results were dramatic. The flame retardant product was fire-tested against ordinary MDF and the results will be made public this autumn through a major advertising and promotional campaign across Europe. The exercise will include the distribution of a DVD that graphically demonstrates the superior performance of Medite FR against ordinary MDF.

Meanwhile, SmartPly is concentrating on the ‘Just the Josb’ campaign backed by the Wood Panel Industries Federation. SmartPly has contributed £100,000 this year to the campaign which aims to raise the profile of OSB. “With increasing continued demand for modern methods of construction, OSB continues to have an important role in the supply chain for the timber frame housing market,” said Mr Rhodes. “With the success of timber frame housing, plus the recognition of sustainable materials, OSB presents a certified alternative to plywood which is guaranteed to perform.”

Mr Rhodes said the proactive OSB campaign will be ongoing and, like Medite, SmartPly will continue to work on new product developments to meet fresh challenges. “Medite has always had this ongoing process of product development and we hope we can bring some of those skills to SmartPly. The Coillte group continues to put increasing emphasis on higher value products with higher value propositions for our customers, and this trend will continue into the future,” he added.

As part of their individual promotional campaigns, SmartPly has signed a three-year contract with the Irish Amateur Football League to encourage football at grass roots level across the country as well as raising the profile and awareness of the wood-based panel products industry in Ireland, while Medite has joined forces with TTJ to host the Wood Futures: Sustainable Solutions conference at the Royal Festival Hall on November 8.

“Promotion of both brands under the Coillte name will be ongoing,” said Mr Rhodes, “and we aim to make them the best-known names in Europe.”