Speaking at the federation’s annual general meeting in London on June 11, Mr White thanked the trade for allowing him the opportunity to enjoy a "fantastic" nine years.

While Mr White was re-elected as chief executive until his departure on July 4, TTF president Stephen King said the search was on for his successor and hinted at a new alliance.

"The TTF has engaged a recruitment consultancy to find a successor to John and we have the perfect template to recruit an equally dynamic chief executive," he said.

He added that in order to fulfil the TTF’s wider ambition to bring supply chain representation closer together, "the TTF and the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) are open to a possible closer working relationship".

Speaking after the event, Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the BWF, said that discussions were at a very early stage but that it was something that should be explored further as the two organisations already worked well together in certain areas.

In his final TTF AGM as chief executive, Mr White summed up the organisation’s achievements over the past nine years and thanked "the fantastic team", the governing board and the committees that had understood the strategic direction and allowed him "to get on with it".

He also recognised the "palpable support" of the membership, which had allowed the federation to make the changes it had, particularly in its engagement with the sustainability agenda and the development of the Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP), which Mr White described as "the jewel in the crown".

"As the reputation of and belief in the RPP grew we were able to increase membership and take the RPP to a wider audience and particularly to Europe," said Mr White.

"We were able to show them [the EU] a product that worked and that could be a valuable support to all their anti-illegal logging efforts," he said, adding that it was instrumental to the development of the EU Timber Regulation.

Mr White added that "all the foundations are in place" to take the timber industry forward and he reiterated his wish that timber supply chain representation should be more united.

"Politically we have to start to dine at the top table and we cannot do that as a fragmented industry."

In another presentation at the AGM, the TTF revealed its new "clearer and more concise" website to members. A key feature of the new site is the TTF resources "portal" which leads quickly and efficiently to information without the user having to trawl through the whole website. The feature operates on the same principle as a Google search in that the user types in key words and all relevant documents appear in the search results.

TTF director Peter Winter updated members on the work of Forests Forever, saying that while there was good diversity of business type within the membership, it was "a challenge" to get geographical spread.

He added that the number of Forests Forever meetings had been increased to four per year, reflecting the increasing importance of environmental issues and said that a priority had been refreshing the TTF’s Environmental Code of Practice and renaming it the Sustainability Code of Practice.

Mr Winter also touched on the TTF’s work with Wood for Good on its online Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) database.

Wood for Good director Dave Hopkins picked up the theme, saying that the LCA data was already being used to support planning applications.

He cited the Cabana restaurant chain as an example of the LCA database in action.

"Cabana’s fit-outs are a mixture of reclaimed and FSC hardwood and they are making big claims about their embedded carbon," said Mr Hopkins. "The LCA information is central to their sustainability claims."