Expert for Wood-based panels

Simon Woods

European Sales, Marketing & Logistics Director


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.



Twitter: @WestFraserUK

West Fraser (formerly known as Norbord) Comment: Q1 2021

Simon Woods, European Sales, Marketing & Logistics Director, West Fraser (formerly known as Norbord) is BMBI’s Expert for Wood Based Panels.

Over recent months, Merchants and DIY stores have seen demand outstrip supply of most timber products, leaving a feeling of lost sales opportunities in most areas. Couple this with shortages of some of the key raw materials used in the manufacturing processes, and we are all in the middle of the perfect storm… and it feels like we are inappropriately dressed for it!

As we move into Q2, demand for all forms of timber products is at an all-time high – at least if pricing is anything to go by. To put this demand surge into perspective, builders’ merchants Q1 2021 sales of Timber & Joinery products are 30.5% up on Q1 2020, and also up 15.8% on the same quarter in 2019!

The increase in demand has many facets. The move to wood as a Carbon Friendly resource, the drive towards home improvement (research suggests between 50%-60% of people in the UK, depending on their location, are planning some form of home improvement) and the swing towards larger new houses, are just some of the drivers of the increases we are experiencing.

From a wood based panel perspective (OSB, MDF, and PB,) the manufacturing sector is doing all it can to improve production by removing slower to produce products, increasing facility utilisation and reducing engineering downtime where possible. However, it is unlikely to be enough to fill the void and most commentators are suggesting that the current imbalance in supply and demand will last for the next 12 months or more.

Particle board is being affected on more than one front. The demand for general flooring PB is high, which is causing its own problems within the supply chain. However, the demand for Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom renovation is causing a much more severe situation. Almost all of the carcasses used in Kitchens, Bedrooms and Bathrooms are manufactured using Particle Board and manufacturers are diverting volumes in that direction, to keep up with demand, exacerbating the issues on Flooring PB in the process.

2021 is shaping up to be a year of both optimism and frustration for all sectors of the timber market. But strong planning partnerships across the whole supply chain will help to smooth the inevitable choppy waters.