A higher level of deliveries and lower raw material costs helped Holmen’s timber division increase its operating profits to SKr21m in 2009 (2008: SKr13m).

Swedish sawmiller Holmen Timber reported a delivery volume of 313,000m³ from its Iggesund redwood mill during the year, up from 266,000m³ in 2008. Production was 291,000m³, up from 279,000m³.

The division’s operating profits are still well below the 2007 peak performance of SKr146m. However, they steadily improved throughout 2009, following a SKr16m loss in the first quarter, culminating in a SKr19m positive result in the fourth quarter.

Holmen Timber said the improvement was also attributable to a rise in sales prices. Raw material prices increased during the second half of the year.

Sales rose to SKr553m for the full year (2008: SKr499m), with the fourth quarter the strongest quarter at SKr155m (2008: SKr109m).

Iggesund’s pine products are sold into the joinery, furniture, timber flooring and merchanting markets.

Construction of the Braviken whitewood sawmill near Norrköping is still in progress, with production due to start by the start of 2010.

Meanwhile, the overall Holmen Group saw a rise in pre-tax profits to SKr1bn (2008: SKr642m).

Turnover was down to SKr18bn (2008: SKr19.3bn).

Holmen has approved a policy to buy back up to 10% of the company’s shares in 2009, but no buy-backs have yet taken place. Total average staff numbers were down to 4,577 (2008: 4,829).

It said the weak economy created continued uncertainty about the market trend for group products.