Expert for Wood-based panels

Simon Woods

European Sales, Marketing & Logistics Director

profile

Simon Woods

Simon joins the BMBI Expert panel with almost 24 years’ experience of working in the construction products sector and with builders’ merchants. His previous roles include 10 years with the leading adhesives brand Bostik, five years in the bathroom sector working with Twyford & Methan, and five years with roofing manufacturer Icopal.

West Fraser (formerly known as Norbord)

West Fraser the UK’s number one engineered wood panel manufacturer serving DIY, housebuilding and construction markets. Its extensive panel range, which has now been certified as net carbon negative, includes FSC certified flooring, panelling and roofing products, with well known brands such as SterlingOSB Zero, CaberFloor and CaberWood MDF commonly specified by architects, national housebuilders and specifiers. West Fraser’s European manufacturing operations span three UK plants: Cowie and Inverness in Scotland; and South Molton in Devon as well as Genk, in Belgium

In February 2021 Norbord joined the West Fraser organisation – an international organisation specialising in diversified wood products with more than 60 facilities in Canada, the United States and Europe. From responsibly-sourced and sustainably-managed forest resources, West Fraser produces lumber, engineered wood (OSB, LVL, MDF, plywood, particleboard), and other products including pulp, newsprint, wood chips and renewable energy. Its products are used in construction, repair and remodelling, industrial applications, papers, tissue and box materials.

Visit: www.uk.westfraser.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/norbord-europe-ltd/

Twitter: @WestFraserUK

West Fraser Comment: Q1 2022

Just over two years ago we all thought that Brexit was our biggest issue. Then along came Covid. Now it’s the conflict in Ukraine.

It’s been a tricky two years for timber. Having successfully navigated the challenges posed by Brexit and then Covid, the conflict in Ukraine is disrupting supply chains and causing major problems in many different areas of our business.

The first is on the supply of timber products which are usually sourced solely, or mostly from Russia, Belarus, or Ukraine. Russian Birch Plywood, for example, is widely used for its looks and strength, characteristics that are difficult to emulate with other materials. As such, timber suppliers have been scrambling to find replacements for it since the invasion began. A specially formulated OSB with a paper coating is one possible alternative being investigated.

Fibre (wood) is also in short supply. The movement of fibre from Russia and Belarus into Europe has almost completely stopped, causing major issues for some manufacturers. Fibre was already experiencing shortages thanks to an increase in bark beetle infestations. The upshot is that fibre is now more expensive, and it will go to sectors able to pay the higher prices.

The invasion has also put further pressure on energy resources, so prices are volatile. Gas has a long term (10 year) average cost of around 50p, however in the first weeks of March it rose more than tenfold to 539p. In the first week of April it dropped back to approximately 240p. The scale of the increase is catastrophic to manufacturing businesses who rely heavily on energy (70% of UK electricity is derived from gas) and are unable to absorb the extra outgoings.

The availability and cost of chemicals such as urea (a base chemical for manufacturers and crop fertilisers), a fifth of which is sourced from Russia, is also causing major disruption.

Altogether, it’s made for a difficult start to the year, and there may well be more choppy waters ahead for timber, as a fragile supply chain and rising prices will surely take its toll on all those involved in the sector as we move through Q2 and beyond.