TDUK kicks off new era in UK timber industry representation

26 November 2021

A new era in UK timber industry representation dawned this week with the inaugural Timber Development UK AGM, bringing together the timber supply chain and specification community within the new body that merges the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and TRADA.

More than 150 members attended the AGM on Wednesday November 24 at a venue near St Paul’s London, hearing that TDUK’s mission was to provide “One Supply Chain, One Vision, One Voice”, drawing on more than 1,500 members extending from sawmill to specifier.

“The creation of TDUK is a major step towards the creation of a single voice the timber industry needs,” said new TDUK chairman Chris Sutton.

“We have been a disparate industry for many years, taking fees from so many [representative] organisations. We are on a journey, so watch this space!”

TDUK chief executive David Hopkins emphasised that the new organisation would feed information both up and down the supply chain as it truly seeks to represent members from the sawmillers to specifiers, linking timber production to the end user.

“The future looks bright for timber as the UK looks to build more sustainable homes and achieve net-zero targets, and the rising number of mergers and acquisitions in the market reflects a growing, and increasingly sophisticated industry,” he said.

“Now our own merger between TTF and TRADA will ensure the timber industry will have a strong, collective voice as we strengthen the role of timber in construction.”

The global market conference following the AGM was an opportunity for members to hear about market dynamics in the timber sector from Nick Boulton, TDUK head of technical and trade policy, as well as a UK and construction economic summary from Noble Francis – the Construction Products Association’s economics director.

Mr Boulton said the first eight months of 2021 had seen a 41% increase in UK softwood imports to 5.5 million m3 (1.7 million m3 above the same period in 2020).

“As a sector we should be rightly proud to have delivered a record amount of timber to the market despite all the obstacles we have had to overcome,” he said.

Latvia and Germany registered large spikes in softwood shipments to the UK, the former seeing a 175,000m3 increase and Germany a 120,000m3 rise for the period.

However, the current situation shows a glut of CLS on the market with prices under pressure.

Keys risks highlighted by Mr Boulton include the ongoing HGV driver shortage, shipping delays, the impact of rising energy costs and the Russian log ban.

He also had a word to say about Brexit.

“Brexit has not yet fully played out. There are challenges next year. They should not have too much of an impact on our sector, but they are still there.”

A full report on TDUK’s market conference will appear in a separate report and in the next issue of TTJ.

TDUK's Nick Boulton outlines timber market developments