Keeping one step ahead



Keeping one step ahead

Relationships matter: talk to your timber supplier

Current shortages may extend on some products until Q1/2 2021

Make sure you talk to your timber supplier in the coming weeks as shortages on some bread-and butter timber products, like carcassing and framing timbers, may continue into spring next year.

High international demand, plus a massive uplift in DIY timber demand due to the pandemic, and the forward ordering patterns of major contractors and wood-using manufacturing industries, have combined with low stocks at sawmills to create a difficult supply situation.

Photo: James Donaldson Timber

Current assessments throughout the supply chain, including British and Irish mills, indicate that shortages could continue into Q1 and possibly Q2 next year.

Moving on from JIT deliveries

Until recently, just-in-time deliveries characterised the merchant timber market. With long lead times now being experienced across the timber category, merchants should talk to their timber supplier in advance to plan their needs going forward, especially with the end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December and potential tariffs on certain product categories if there is a ‘no deal’.

Decking and fencing currently have the longest lead times, followed by carcassing and framing timbers including CLS and PAR products.

Photo: Setra Wood Products UK

Products with shorter lead times

Shorter lead times are available on some products, but merchants should still contact their supplier to ensure access to supplies. Products with shorter lead times from ordering are, at time of writing (October 2020): general plywood, particleboard flooring, general MDF, and joinery softwoods and hardwoods.

Products currently being sold on allocation only include OSB and structural plywood.

Photo: Metsa Wood

Brexit briefing

Although there are currently medium-term shortages of some merchant products, the Timber Trade Federation and its members are less concerned about the impacts of the Brexit transition period ending on December 31st.

This is because:

– Only minimal timber volumes arrive through RORO ports in the south east of England; the majority arrive on dedicated vessels arriving at ports around the UK.

Photo: Medite Tricoya Extreme

– Customs processes are linked to large volumes of wood on ships, not to individual containers.

– Few wood products need specialist storage or immediate transfer to customers. Availability of HGVs for within-UK transport may, however, cause delays.

– Significant volumes of wood products are UK-made.

For more information visit our Brexit Hub: