Timber industry executives are more optimistic about prospects for 2011 for their particular businesses than they are for the wider economy, according to a new forecast.

The forecast sought views from the UK-based membership of the Medite 2016 Forum – made up of senior executives, heads of trade organisations, editors and market researchers who operate in the timber industry.

Some 43% of respondents were “quite pessimistic” about prospects for the UK economy in 2011, while 34% were “quite optimistic. When asked about their specific market sectors, optimism increased to 57%, with only 33% being pessimistic.

Optimism improved markedly about 2012-14 prospects, with 71% being more bullish and only 19% pessimistic, while 70% were positive about their own sector’s prospects.

“Once through 2011, prospects are perceived as being much brighter and more certain, even if the pace of the ongoing recovery might be steady rather than be dramatic,” said Geoff Rhodes, marketing and business development director of Coillte Panel Products.

Opportunities identified included RMI, especially DIY home improvements, the private rental sector and garden products, with some respondents believing small builders might see a recovery in activity. Timber-based manufacturers saw export opportunities as reason for a good outlook for their specific businesses, while 24% expect the 2012 Olympics to generate business.

Scepticism was expressed as to whether the private sector could deliver an economic upturn, but the general attitude was that economic conditions favoured timber and wood-based panels to take market share from competitor products.

Fifty-nine per cent say they are planning new products and services in 2011, with more than half (56%) planning to boost marketing and sales spending.

“This perhaps explains their confidence for their own business even if, at the same time, some have concerns over the overall economy in 2011,” said Mr Rhodes.

More than half of respondents (54%) say they will not take any further cost-cutting action in 2011, while 24% are planning further cuts and a further 24% are undecided.