The former Masistar Ltd chipboard plant at Shildon, acquired earlier this year by Egger (UK) Ltd, is heading to Russia.

The two chipboard lines plus chipping, drying and sanding machinery are destined for a 110ha site at Shuya, 100 miles north-east of Moscow, said Egger (UK)’s joint managing director and commercial director Bob Livesey. The plan, he said, was to begin production of raw board at a rate of 250,000m3 per year by the end of next year or, at the latest, early 2005. Melamine-faced capacity would be added “pretty soon afterwards” and, in the longer term, output at the plant “could be widened to Egger’s full product range”.

Mr Livesey insisted that, given the current extent of chipboard demand growth in Russia and the ageing nature of some of the country’s existing capacity, Egger’s intention was to market all of the factory’s output within Russia.

Masistar Ltd – formerly Vertex Panel Products – went into receivership in February this year. Egger duly snapped up a large proportion of the assets and, following a feasibility study, signalled its intention to relocate the plant somewhere in eastern Europe. The Shuya development will represent Egger’s first production facility in Russia, although the group has had offices in the country for a number of years. The site enjoys good rail and road access as well as a nearby energy supply, said Mr Livesey.