The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) is on “as strong a footing as it ever has been”, according to its president Neil Donaldson, speaking at last week’s North West Timber Trade Association’s (NWTTA) annual dinner in Liverpool.

Progress was being made in the fields of education and training, as well as political lobbying and generic promotion, he said, and the Responsible Purchasing Policy was gradually gaining acceptance.

“Membership numbers have grown by 25% over the past 21 months and we continue to operate at a surplus,” he continued. “We are at the heart of the government’s thinking on procurement and we are now seen by many to be the trade association to be members of.”

The annual TTF dinner, held at Banqueting House in London, had been a resounding success, he said. “Never have we had so many congratulatory letters from members after a London dinner before. Not only does this show the trade to be in good heart, it also demonstrates to our membership the excellent work that the TTF is doing on your behalf.”

Attendance at the regional dinners was also testimony to the support shown by members, said Mr Donaldson – around 370 guests attended the NWTTA dinner.

NWTTA president Eddy Nichol said that while 2008 was “shaping up to be a real tester in terms of economic growth”, opportunities still lay in niche markets.

“These little known and often ignored emerging market segments offer greatly enhanced margin opportunities for everyone involved, right through the value chain,” he said, adding that the trade needed to “be prepared to invest in research, be bold and be educated”.

On the subject of education, Mr Nichol referred to NWTTA’s recent sponsorship of the wood for good online learning and announced that it was supporting the TTF’s education, training and careers committee with a sponsorship grant of £2,000. “This will assist them with their outstanding efforts at trade and careers fairs across the country,” he said as he presented the cheque to TTF chief executive John White.