It’s clear that this is a momentous event in the history of the UK. Because she has been a feature for our entire lives (for most of us), it does feel like she was almost part of our families. Listening to her Christmas messages over the decades were particularly poignant moments. And now her passing represents the end of an era.

It is fateful that the venue of this year’s TTJ Awards on September 30 has a strong link to the Queen. The InterContinental Hotel on the corner of Park Lane near Wellington Arch was built on the site of the Queen’s childhood home. For more details about this read the TTJ Awards Supplement in this issue.

In this issue of TTJ we have market updates on the key sectors of softwood, fencing/pallets and chipboard.

Looking at all these sectors it is clear that tougher trading conditions are prevailing and many outside influences are weighing on consumer sentiment and demand.

Softwood import volumes (TDUK statistics) show figures are down by about 600,000m3 for January- June, compared to the previous year, a figure which will increase for the second half.

Our softwood report looks at the potential impact of energy price increases on timber importers/ distributors with sawing, treatment and warehousing facilities. It finds that many companies are still on fixed rate energy deals, but those that are not face astronomic increases to compound the situation of falling timber prices.

The chipboard sector is also experiencing a cooling of demand and many in the industry are preparing for a market decline. But it is also important to emphasise that some merchants report builders are still busy and that the start of the new school term would see a flurry of activity. Our EPF conference report in this issue gives more detail of forecasting in the chipboard sector.

Also in this issue is our annual focus on British timber. We spoke to a number of sawmills about the market situation and their business plans.

It’s clear the mills have enjoyed great market conditions for the past two years, but they now see demand reduction, which is not surprising in the landscaping and fencing sectors as so much work was done during lockdown. Lead times have reduced considerably.

Careful management of production is clearly important.

Despite the headwinds, sawmillers remain optimistic and want to see a change by specifiers, whose default is C24 specification regardless of the application. More use of British timber, they say, should be possible.

We hope the content this month proves informative and we’re looking forward to seeing many of you at the TTJ Awards on September 30.

Stephen Powney, Group Editor