We got a sample of the trade’s increasingly buoyant outlook from an energised Chris Sutton, chairman of the Timber Trade Federation National Panel Products Division, at its recent annual dinner. To a healthy 270-strong audience – another sign of more optimistic times – he said business was "in a better place".

"There’s a buzz in the market and a growing feel-good factor, with people talking about making a profit," he said.

In the final step to a healthier economic environment, businesses start putting their money where their more confident mouths are.

And judging by the news in TTJ this week, that’s what we are also at last starting to see more widely in the trade. Buoyed by ever more upbeat economic forecasts, with the chancellor predicting EU-beating 2.4% UK growth in 2014, and positive noises from construction – and recently the NHBC announced it is reopening its training academy to meet soaring demand for bodies on building sites – timber businesses are starting to dust off their savings accounts and invest.

One interesting development is the formation of Midlands-based Verdon Timber, a brand new merchant group. It has formed from the merger of five different businesses. But it’s not about consolidation and cost cutting; each of the five continues and will build on the strengths and expertise of the others. And the new operation is already recruiting and has announced plans to spend £1m on a new site.

Meanwhile we hear that two longestablished, well-known timber names are being acquired by two others to form bigger, more diversified businesses.

Merchant/sawmiller Associated Timber Services has bought importer/merchant John Boddy Timber, with plans to set it up on a new site with new equipment and to cross-fertilise the product ranges of the two companies.

Meanwhile, Premier Forest Products is buying Y Goldberg and Clarks Wood, businesses with 300 years’ trading between them. Again, it’s all positive news. All premises are being retained and the companies will draw on each other’s product range and geographic reach to create a stronger whole from the sum of their parts.

Coillte Panel Products is investing in the future too. It hasn’t disclosed how much, but the new press and associated technology it is installing at its Waterford, Ireland, plant to "dramatically increase" production of its SmartPly OSB, clearly won’t come cheap. And in another positive indicator for the UK economy, a significant proportion of the increased output is expected to be destined for the construction sector here.

Interestingly, Swedish producer Bergs Timber has also decided the UK is now the market to back and is increasing the proportion of production targeted here from 30% to 50%. It’s a bit premature, as TTJ has one more edition in 2013, but finally it looks as though we can wish readers a happy new year in the expectation that they will actually have one.