The timber industry needs to learn from best practice in other sectors, according to SCA Timber Supply managing director Rob Simpson.

Announcing a £1m investment at the company’s Stoke-on-Trent distribution centre, Mr Simpson said the industry should follow the example of fast-moving consumer goods, which focus on IT, logistics and distribution.

He said: “Selling timber today is no longer about price. It’s dependent on service levels, efficiencies in production and logistics that benefit our customers – not just ourselves, and on researching and developing the future of timber products.”

SCA‘s Stoke investment, comprising £450,000 on racking and £500,000 in related IT and mechanical handling systems, is aimed at improving the company’s supply chain service capabilities, enabling it to offer IT systems integration from the forest to the point of sale.

The equipment is currently being installed and will be fully operational by June.

It follows a £1.6m investment in a planing and wrapping line at Stoke last summer, plus the opening of SCA’s 25,000m2 facility on King George Dock in Hull last October to achieve reduced delivery schedules and shorter lead times.

Mr Simpson said SCA aimed to become the most cost-efficient supply chain partner from the forest through to end customer. He said the company’s Swedish forest operations and mills had made big efficiency gains in the past five years and now similar progress was being made in the UK.