Premier Forest Group is now forecasting 20% growth in turnover and strong profits for its 2020/21 financial year, as a result of increased demand and product inflation.

The Chief Executive of leading timber company Premier Forest Group has praised the agility of his team to enable further business growth in 2020 despite the impact of Coronavirus on the sector.

At the start of the year, Premier was on track for a record-breaking year, but as the UK and Ireland went into lockdown in March, the business’s growth, like most others, stalled.

However, despite 50% of its customer base becoming dormant, Premier remained open and, crucially, kept its supply chain running so that when its customers returned, it was heavily stocked and able to meet the surge in demand that followed.

The company is now forecasting 20% growth in turnover and strong profits for its 2020/21 financial year, as a result of increased demand and product inflation. 

Hitting the forecast would mean reaching a turnover of £165 million – a milestone for the Group. This success means Premier Forest is investing heavily in new technology and has recruited a number of new staff, with plans to increase staff numbers further in the New Year.

Terry Edgell, Chief Executive of Premier Forest Group, said: “Some of the industries that we supply shut down in March and haven’t reopened. The exhibition industry and theatre production disappeared overnight.

“I can’t speak for others in our industry, but we were saved by the fact that we were able to stay open. We had to adapt our working practices pretty quickly but once we were assured of our staff’s safety, we were back up and running. That meant that when the contractors working on Government projects such as the Nightingale and Dragon hospitals, or the modular buildings erected to provide extra capacity needed products, we were here and able to supply them.

“An upsurge in garden projects during spring and summer saw an increase in demand for things like decking and fencing which meant our sawmills were kept busy during this period.”

Edgell continued: “One of the issues we identified early on was a lack of online trading capacity, so we are investing heavily in our IT and ecommerce. We know that this is a worthwhile outlay as in Ireland, where we have already made a significant investment, we have seen a tenfold increase in online sales.”

Premier is still facing challenges, as well as the difficulties arising from the pandemic, worldwide there are issues surrounding a lack of wood supply and the Timber Trade Federation has been warning timber users and buyers to be proactive in their purchasing strategies. The problem has been exacerbated by pandemic issues, high global demand, competition for shipping containers and import logistics.

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