Timber and timber products were the strongest performing elements in Unimer’s 5.8% growth in throughput in the past 12 months.

Chris Pateman, commercial director of the organisation which represents 1,200 merchant members, said that in the 12 months to the end of April, Unimer’s board, timber and insulation products category accounted for £177m of turnover – an increase of £14m or 9% on the previous year.

Britannia Fencing, Richard Burbidge, Finnforest, James Latham, JELD-WEN, Montague L Meyer, Severn Timber and Velux between them grew turnover from £42.5m to £50.5m – or 19%. That result, said Mr Pateman, made timber and timber products the fastest-growing sector of Unimer’s turnover for the second year running.

He added: “Looking ahead, major new timber industry suppliers who joined us in the past 12 months are already making a strong contribution to increasing that growth still further.

“In particular, Ess-Enn and SCA Timber Supply have become major contributors on the bulk timber side, with both Dale Joinery (Lichfield) and Spectrim, the specialist floorcoverings distributor, performing strongly with our members in terms of added-value products.”

Mr Pateman said a large spread of members bought via Unimer including merchant chains such as Travis Perkins and Buildbase and specialist merchants such as Howarth Timber, Flemings, Arnold Laver, Wenban-Smith Ltd and Covers.

Overall, Unimer’s throughput to the end of April 2005 hit a record £683m turnover from 1,000 members dealing with 677 manufacturers and suppliers.