The Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) is a strategic partnership of all of the key Trade Associations involved in the timber sector. We work alongside the Timber Trade Federation, the Structural Timber Association, the Trussed Rafter Association and the Wood Protection Association to input into policy recommendations, work towards overcoming industry challenges and promote the wider use of timber across the UK.
At the beginning of May, BWF members were asked, alongside members of the other trade associations, to contribute to a survey to analyse the impact of COVID-19 on the wider timber industry. The results were published by the CTI on 12th May and it is clear that the timber supply chain is gearing up for business, with almost all businesses to reopen in May.
According to the survey results, the third of businesses which never closed are set to be rejoined by the rest of the respondents, with most (99%) having either reopened or planning to reopen by the end of the month.
Other interesting insights from the survey include:
- While only 12% of the industry are currently operating at maximum capacity, there is confidence that businesses can quickly ramp up productivity. Other respondents were either not open (18%), or are operating at minimal (33%), or medium (35%) capacity;
- If quarantine measures were lifted, and in light of recent Government advice on returning to work, 54% of businesses said they could return to full capacity immediately, and a further 34% in less than a month;
- ‘Government legislation’ closely followed by ‘lack of demand in the supply chain’ were seen as the two biggest potential obstacles to reopening, however this may now have shifted given the release of Government advice;
- Access to PPE was viewed as a risk particularly by members involved in manufacturing, with marked increases when filtering the results to Structural Timber Association and British Woodworking Federation members;
- Manufacturing was the most affected sector in the timber supply chain, with these respondents far more likely to have closed for a period than sawmillers, merchants or other traders.
CTI Chair, Roy Wakeman OBE, said:
“The results from this survey demonstrate the resilience of timber, and that as construction comes back on line, that businesses can have confidence in the merchants, manufacturers and traders they rely on to stand by them.
“Over the past six weeks the UK has faced some unprecedented challenges. Now as we seek to rebuild a better future beyond this crisis, we know timber will continue to grow as the material of choice for the construction industry.”
The Impact on BWF Members
Having been in constant communication with members since lock-down began, we know that a number of woodworking and joinery manufacturers took the difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations. The following factors played a part in members taking this decision:
- Members followed the advice from Public Health England and due to social distancing measures, found it impossible to safely operate whilst working within set guidelines;
- The government’s guidance on which businesses should continue to operate during lock-down has been constantly evolving and, with many construction sites choosing to close down, the demand for member products has been temporarily subdued;
- A significant number of merchants decided to close, which meant that our members simply couldn’t get the materials they needed to complete jobs;
- During lockdown, domestic dwelling repairs and maintenance were deemed by the government to be only carried out if urgent.
To help members during this time, in April the BWF announced that it was suspending all membership fees for 12 weeks. The move aims to offer some direct financial relief to members at a time when all businesses in the sector are facing significant challenges.
The CTI survey is very encouraging and shows that it’s never been more important for the timber industry to work together to emerge stronger from these challenging times.