The Future is Made of Trees

With over 51,000 members, Södra is Sweden’s largest forest-owner association with a business built on ‘value-generating’ relationships. There are exciting times ahead with the organisation gearing up to supply new products in 2019 and further expansion into the UK and European markets.

Since its transition in 2017 from Crown Timber, Södra Wood has positioned itself  as a pivotal player in the UK, as a market leading distributor of structural timber products to the construction and merchant
sectors. Central to this has been the longstanding ‘just in time’ delivery model with engineered wood an increasingly crucial element. The Södra range is set to be supplemented even further with the
potential of cross laminated timber (CLT) entering the marketplace later this year.

The company has built its first CLT facility at Värö – co-located with Södra’s pulp mill and sawmill – and is part of a wider programme of investment and growth across the company’s diverse portfolio.
For example, from 1 March, the annual production volume of sawn timber at the Mönsterås sawmill will increase by 100,000m³. “The journey of change undertaken by Södra’s sawmills in recent years is
now yielding results in terms of more competitive production and a better offering to our customers,” says Jörgen Lindquist, President of the Södra Wood business area.

“We have identified CLT as an interesting product and believe that taking this next step in the value chain is a natural progression. CLT will provide the basis for a new segment, where we will be offering the
most cost-effective construction material in the market for high-rise buildings.” CLT and glulam in particular are exciting structural alternatives to steel, concrete and masonry. The new facility at Värö has been
in development for just over a year and is now beginning to roll out its first panels on a trial basis.

“We have built a new CLT facility and installed all the necessary CNC machinery,” says Jeremy English, Great Britain and Ireland Sales Director, Manufacturing. “We are processing panels and testing our skills
and ability to handle the product. We expect to be able to deliver CLT products in late 2019 from the factory we have just built, and we have plans for a second factory on a larger scale. It’s a big investment in
people and skills to develop the business going forward.”
Plans are initially to service the domestic and Scandinavian markets to the tune of 20,000m3 a year and rising to 100,000 quickly, so the targets are ambitious and have exciting implications for global
markets.

Brexit casts a shadow over everything of course and Södra are well prepared for whatever outcome of final negotiations – we have sufficient stock on the ground as of March 29 so we can continue supply
easily,” adds Jeremy. “The only problems we foresee are bureaucratic ones. We have set up a separate company in Ireland – Södra Ireland Ltd – to make sure we can work smoothly and is a prevention against
potential bureaucracy. In a way you can’t plan – you can just look at options. But it should be business as normal.”

As part of the fresh face of Södra for 2019, a brand new website was launched in January to serve as a ‘go-to source’ of information for those interested in specifying and working with timber. “The UK is one of our largest markets,” says Nigel Buckley-Ryan, UK Sales Director, Merchants at Södra. “So it is really important to have a UK-focused website that provides in-depth information about our products, and our
commitment to growing a sustainable timber supply. It’s also a significant step forward in Södra’s commitment to be the industry’s most digitally-focused company.”

2019 will see the continued growth of Södra’s three main UK core ranges: C24 timber for carcassing, TR26 for trussed rafters, and CLS for the timber frame and merchant markets. “TR26 will be dictated to
by increased housing starts and newbuild,” adds Jeremy. “CLS will grow due to the timber frame sector growing and C24 is always steady and increasingly linked to the RMI sector. Looking forward, as homegrown
timber availability reaches a peak, the market will have to turn to imported timber. Södra has a long-term strategy to grow in three main markets – UK & Ireland, Sweden and Holland. Timber has been described as a ‘miracle’ building material – and for us there is no doubt that it can overcome many of today’s construction challenges, from helping to meet government housing targets to increasing speed and agility of construction
dramatically.”

For more information visit: www.sodra.uk

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