CTI Blog

CTI Blog - Speaking with one voice to grow UK Timber Industry

This guest blog post is by David Hopkins, CTI Director and Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF)

This feature originally appeared on the Timber Trades Journal


Recent months have certainly seen major political upheaval. But, with this comes great opportunity.

The “un-democratic” nature of the European Union has been rejected and in its place we have a new Prime Minister appointed by a handful of MPs from one ruling party, without all that bother of voting or asking the electorate. It’s certainly efficient.

One thing is for sure, we can no longer use Europe as an excuse for inaction in our own economy and our own society. As we enter a new phase of trading arrangements, our politicians will have to show, very clearly, what they are doing and how their policies are making a positive difference right here at home.

As I write, the new Prime Minister is assembling a new team and putting forward a new agenda for Government. So far, the mood music sounds good with housing, skills and an industrial strategy at the centre of her opening speech.

With the policy ground shifting beneath our feet, it is important that the timber sector stands up to make its own voice known in this debate. We have a lot to offer. But, to do this effectively, we must stand together as a united timber supply chain.

That is why it has been so important that BWF has now joined the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) as an equal partner with STA and TTF. Working together we will be using the umbrella of the CTI as a focal point for our public affairs work, to promote the opportunity that the timber sector offers as a high-performance, low-carbon growth sector.

Each trade association is already leading on a variety of issues, together we can present them as a single voice.

The TTF will be leading on sustainable procurement, responsible sourcing and international & domestic trading issues. We are a proud trading nation with great links to producer countries across the world and are already working with DfID on a number of projects to aid links with key supply routes. The TTF will be ensuring that whatever the future looks like outside the EU, we maintain our international outlook and sustainable credentials.

The BWF has been leading on skills development, helping create ‘Centres of Excellence’ across the country. This is vital if we are to campaign to put skilled trades back at the heart of the UK economy and at the heart of every community. There are currently around 2,000 woodworking apprentices in the UK, the highest ratio of apprentices in construction for any sector. If we are to grow the sector we need to grow the pool of skilled labour it requires.

The STA has been doing sterling work in improving productivity throughout its expanding manufacturing base in the UK, as it works to take even greater market share and help deliver much needed sustainable housing across the country.

Together these actions – and others – will help us grow the £10 billion supply chain in the UK and gain the political recognition we deserve as a vital trade and manufacturing sector.

The first focal point for this will be our Parliamentary Conference and drinks in November. I look forward to seeing you there.


[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/ttf-blog-speaking-one-voice-grow-uk-timber-industry]

CTI Blog - CTI historic conference to be held on 26 October 2016

This blog is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive 

I have often been asked the question over the last few months. When is the CTI’s conference taking place?  It is with great pleasure that I am now able to provide you with a date for the diary: Wednesday 26 October 2016.

And I’m also delighted to announce that Nick Boles, Minister of State in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, has agreed to address our inaugural industry conference at 10 am on Wednesday 26 October 2016.

Thanks to premium sponsor Nexus CIFS - well known for its credit insurance offering in the timber industry and one of the UK’s leading underwriting agencies – and co-sponsors including Danzer, Lathams and SCA the CTI is able to host this historic conference at a prestigious venue in the heart of Westminster. The location will be announced shortly.

At the major conference the construction and skills minister will talk about the Government’s views on growing the use of sustainable timber and addressing skills shortages. The CTI will also be presenting its policy reports on business growth, skills and sustainability in the timber supply chain. This will be followed by a debate about its policy recommendations with around 200 decision makers and opinion formers from the industry and Westminster.

Thanks to the strong financial support of Arbor Forest Products the CTI has been able to commission Egan Consulting to produce a Value and Growth policy report. This will include an overview of timber consumption in the UK as well as forecasts relating to markets such as sawmilling, timber trade, wood based panels, processed wood, fencing, builders’ merchants, construction, furniture, pallets, pulp and paper.

You will also recall that the CTI launched the largest employer skills questionnaire ever undertaken in the UK's Timber Industry Supply Chain in January. We got a very good response with nearly 150 senior executives and other company representatives giving us their views on a wide range of topics from schools to skills shortages. The survey results are being collated in a policy report by Sector Skills Council Proskills and kindly sponsored by International Timber.

Last but not least, Charlie Law, Managing Director at Sustainable Construction Solutions Ltd, has been working on the CTI’s Environment and Quality of Standards report which is generously sponsored by Jewson. The report looks at CTI’s key strategic objectives on sustainability: - developing the low carbon circular economy; - achieving consistent application of chain of custody standards; - improving the implementation and enforcement of EU timber regulations.

All in all, they are very important policy reports which are likely to provoke an interesting debate at our inaugural conference on 26 October 2016. So remember the date and look out for the early bird ticket invitations.


[News URL: http://www.cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-cti-historic-conference-be-held-26-october-2016]

CTI Blog - CTI gets great response from Industry on skill shortages in Timber Supply Chain

This blog is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

You will recall the CTI launched the largest employer skills questionnaire ever undertaken in the UK's Timber Industry Supply Chain in January. We got a very good response with nearly 150 senior executives and other company representatives giving us their views on a wide range of topics related to skills, schools and further and higher education. The survey results are being collated in a skills policy report being produced by Proskills and kindly sponsored by International Timber.

Proskills have now produced the first draft to be published in the Spring of 2016. The CTI will present the findings to skills minister Nick Boles and Government officials in order to shape the political agenda on education and skills as indicated in our recently published strategic plan.

As I said in my previous blog about skills the CTI strongly believes that Education and Skills development is critical to ensure that Timber leads the way in 21st Century Construction. Members of our skills working group agreed last year that to start with we need to answer some basic questions:

  • Where are the skills shortages and skills gaps?
  • Do colleges and universities engage with timber businesses?
  • Does the industry want to take on more apprentices? What are the policy barriers?

Thanks to a very good response from businesses in the timber supply chain we have now received a wide range of answers to these questions which will help us to reflect what you need in the workplace. Initial findings indicate that several sub sectors already have plans underway to tackle skills needs but in other places the industry still needs to articulate the requirement for increased demand for timber-specific content. Equally, Government clearly still has to provide more support and make a stronger case for investment in training across the timber supply chain.

Thanks to International Timber’s generous support the CTI has been able to ask Proskills to put your views on key policy issues in a report which they will present at the CTI's inaugural industry conference, kindly sponsored by premium sponsor CIFS Nexus, in the Spring.

If CTI members are interested in a preview of the draft report’s provisional findings the CTI’s Skills and Education working group will be meeting again in London on 25 April to discuss the initial outcomes. Do get in touch with the CTI if you would like to attend.


[Blog URL: http://www.cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-cti-gets-great-response-industry-skill-shortages-timber-supply-chain]

CTI Blog - Driving the policy agenda on Value & Growth

Dirk VennixThis blog is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

Over the Easter break I was thinking it would be good if we gave an update on the steady progress we’re making with the CTI’s Value and Growth report. This is being produced by Egan Consulting and kindly sponsored by Arbor Forest Products.

Last year the CTI’s supporters working group for this policy area, which included six trade associations and several timber export organisations, discussed the key issues at our first meeting. It was clear from the off that more needs to be done to help increase the use of sustainable timber. So far industry dialogue with Government on incentives for growth had been quite limited whilst the sector has had to deal with tough economic times and is only just starting to show some modest signs of growth.

In order to drive this important agenda forward supporters and members asked the CTI to assess the various sector markets and investigate the potential for new policy incentives. To start with we had to get a better understanding of the growth opportunities and competitive pressures throughout the timber supply chain.

The working group agreed that we needed to ask some key questions:

•             What are the growing markets and which have potential to grow faster? 

•             Which markets are struggling and need a boost?

•             Where do the timber industries need more government support?

As part of the internal consultation Egan Consulting conducted a process mapping exercise kindly assisted by Structural Timber Association and TImber Trade Federation. This is where CTI supporters representing a range of sector markets provided valuable input. Subsequently, we asked a number of companies to pitch for the project which would collate existing market data, identify the opportunities and threats to markets within the timber supply chain and identify their specific prospects from now until 2020.

But before the CTI could commission the report we had to secure funding to cover the costs and we are very grateful to independently owned Arbor Forest Products for providing us with invaluable sponsorship. As the first business member of the CTI they have been very supportive of the formation of the CTI and its objectives from its inception. Award-winning Arbor Forest Products is a major UK wide timber business and supplies more than 225,000m3 of quality timber to the building, DIY and construction trades, through independent merchants, each year.

Thanks to Arbor’s generous support the CTI was able to commission Egan Consulting. Peter Egan and Allen Erskine have now nearly finalised a draft report which will include an overview of timber consumption in the UK as well as forecasts relating to markets such as sawmilling, timber trade, wood based panels, processed wood, fencing, builders’ merchants, construction, furniture, packaging, pulp and paper. The report will be presented at the CTI's inaugural industry conference, kindly sponsored by premium sponsor CIFS Nexus, in May/June this year.

If CTI members are interested in a preview of the draft report’s provisional findings the CTI’s Value and Growth working group will be meeting again in London on 15 April to discuss the initial outcomes. Do get in touch with the CTI if you would like to attend.


[Blog URL: http://www.cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-driving-policy-agenda-value-growth]

CTI Blog - CTI putting timber industry back in the spotlight

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

We witnessed another memorable moment last week. For the first time in the history of the timber industry more than 40 parliamentarians announced that they would form a group to help grow the use of sustainable timber and develop more vibrant industries across the whole timber supply chain.

On 9 February fifteen parliamentarians attended the first meeting of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Timber Industries and had an initial discussion about tackling key issues such as business growth, sustainability and skills shortages. They unanimously elected a cross-party officers group consisting of Chairman Ian Paisley MP for North Antrim in Northern Ireland (Democratic Unionists), Joint Vice Chair and former minister Cheryl Gillan MP for Chesham and Amersham (Conservatives), Joint Vice Chair Stephen Hepburn MP for Jarrow (Labour), Treasurer and Chair of the Wood Panel Industry APPG Steven Paterson MP for Stirling (SNP) and Secretary and Chair of the Furniture APPG Stephen McPartland MP for Stevenage (Conservatives).

All members of the new group have voiced their willingness to promote the use of timber UK wide but also support local timber related companies. The MPs are really very keen to meet with constituency businesses and as a result the CTI has around a dozen visits in the pipeline already.

The first took place on 12 February when APPG member Pat McFadden MP for Wolverhampton South East went to see CTI supporter John Grimes Sawmills in Wolverhampton. The MP was elected at the 2005 general election and served as Minister of State in the Department for Business in the Tony Blair government. He was also a shadow minister for Europe on the Labour front bench. Pat McFadden was welcomed to the site by Arvid Nielsen, Operations Director of John Grimes Sawmills Ltd (JGS Ltd) and John Dibble, Managing Director of the Building & Plumbing Supplies Group, which are the parent Company of JGS Ltd.

Arvid (pictured below with cap on) runs the manufacturing wholesale business, which has been based in Wolverhampton for over 30 years.  Arvid has been hands on in a variety of wood trade related fields for over 38 years.  Being a third generation wood trade member, he keeps his grandfather and father’s name present in the timber industry as well as trading with some sense of traditional ethical values. JGS Ltd specialise in the production of quality fencing panels which are supplied to fencing contractors and builders merchants all round the country. Arvid gave the MP a tour of the site which is proud to employ 20 staff and manufacture in excess of 10,000 panels per week with yard stock capacity of over 70,000 panels. 

Given his background as a former business minister Pat McFadden was impressed with the manufacturing capability and pleased to hear that the company has plans to expand. Arvid told the MP he is keen to stay in the local area and provide further opportunities for employment and training. John Grimes Sawmills already employs a number of apprentices and is keen to encourage more young people to start a career in timber manufacturing. Pat McFadden said he was happy to help the local business in any way he can.

The launch of the new APPG and the MP visit were good examples of how the CTI is raising the profile of timber industry within the parliamentary world and we are keen to help other supporters to connect with their local MP. Do get in touch if you are one of them.

Pat McFadden MP visit to John Grimes Sawmills
12 February 2016, Wolverhampton