Timber and panel product

"We actively target this sector and want to grow our penetration into this market," said Paul Thatcher, Timbmet’s group commercial manager, panels.

"We’re very strong in the shop fitting sector, which peaks in the summer and tails off in the autumn," he continued. "The kitchen sector is the opposite and its busy time is up to just before Christmas, so it helps even out our peaks and troughs."

Timbmet supplies many products into the sector, including MFC and "high end" boards such as melamine faced birch plywood, very high gloss boards, such as Decogloss, birch and poplar plywood.

"Manufacturers of painted kitchens also buy large quantities of plain MDF boards and some customers buy real wood veneered boards," said Mr Thatcher. "With the exception of very high end manufacturers, very little solid timber is used within the sectors that we supply."

Timbmet adds value in a number of ways: "We have cut-to-size, CNC and edgebanding facilities and supply all of these services into the kitchen sector," said Mr Thatcher.

"Some of the smaller kitchen companies will have all the components delivered cut and edged for them to do the assembly."

The company offers boards from a number of manufacturers, including Kronospan, Finsa and Egger and says the latter’s MFC is particularly popular. In fact its Timbmet’s bestselling product group into the kitchens sector.

And with Egger producing more than 150 different decors ranging from plain colours such as white and grey to classic and contemporary wood grains such as oak and distressed timber, there are plenty of options to choose from.

One of Egger’s biggest hits in the sector is the ST27 panel.

"The trend for painted kitchens goes from strength to strength but taking a piece of oak and painting it was the preserve of only the most expensive kitchens," said Nick McClughin, Egger’s head of marketing. "In the past we were able to offer plain coloured MFC that had a wood grain texture as an alternative but it didn’t truly give the impression of a piece of painted timber. But over a three-year period of development we created a board with the depth of texture and natural grain markings that made it difficult to tell apart from solid timber.

Mr McClughin added that, since its launch last year, ST27 had seen the quickest ever take up of a product range.

Kitchen surface innovation

Egger continues to invest in new manufacturing and infrastructure projects and the most relevant in terms of the kitchen industry is into "advanced surface technology", said Mr McClughin.

"This gives us the ability to produce deeper textures and also the new generation of ‘Synchonised pore’, where the grain and texture align to create a product that is virtually indistinguishable from real wood."

Egger has picked up on a growing demand for matt finishes by developing PerfectSense Matt, a neutral colour palette that boasts "no-fingerprint technology". And while white will probably always be the most popular colour, grey has become a staple.

"We have just introduced a grey-blue finish called U636 St9 Fjord, which we feel is a classy type of grey that has the versatility to work in a combination with many wood grains, creating the possibility for kitchen manufacturers to introduce it as a new ‘universal’ carcass that works with many of their doors," said Mr McClughin.