Metsä Wood: building a solid foundation for a sustainable future

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Patrick Towner, Sales Director at Metsä Fibre UK, part of Metsä Group, delves deeper into the company’s commitment to sustainability, its multisite collaboration with ABP and its resource-efficient production processes which help meet industry needs.

“We believe that building with wood is a sustainable solution.”

“This is why our wood comes from sustainably managed northern forests where growth exceeds use. We always know the origin of the wood we source and ensure sustainable forest management with forest certification. We safeguard the biodiversity of forests by various means.”

As cities continue to grow, there is an increasing need for efficient, ecological buildings as well as light transport solutions to serve them. We believe that building with wood is a sustainable solution. This is why our wood comes from sustainably managed northern forests where growth exceeds use. We always know the origin of the wood we source and ensure sustainable forest management with forest certification. We safeguard the biodiversity of forests by various means.

At Metsä Wood, we provide premium- quality wood products for our construction, industrial and distribution customers. We are in the wood products business for the long-run. As part of my role I am responsible for the commercial development of joinery redwood and whitewood sales both direct from northern forests and from landed sites within the UK.

We operate from multiple upgrading sites around the UK, including ABP’s Port of King’s Lynn, and actively provide wood products to support different industries. In December 2019, we celebrated a milestone in our partnership with the Port of Ipswich when the port handled its first shipment of 2,000 m3 of timber as part of a new service launched for our customers.

This new service is built on a long- standing relationship between both businesses in the ports of King’s Lynn, Hull and Swansea and followed the opening of our newest UK terminal, located in Shed 10 at the Port of Ipswich earlier that year. The new terminal specialises in receiving, storing and distributing a range of both pine and spruce sawn joinery products.

With this new addition, we now have terminals in the South and North of England, which is great from a logistics perspective. Effectively what this means is that by working with ABP we can very efficiently cover the whole of the UK.

Working as part of a multisite operation with several hundred people we are always looking for ways to innovate and increase employee engagement. We aim to make all our colleagues feel valued as part of one team, regardless of the location where they are based.

A great example of an exciting initiative which is led by our HR team is called ‘WOW’ and is an all employee team building event. The idea behind it is that everyone meets for a day of networking and team challenges to encourage a feeling of healthy competition and togetherness. While we have good cross-departmental collaboration already, this event brings everyone closer together from production to logistics and from management to sales.

“Technology has played a big role in making our processes more efficient as we have our own systems for forecasting. Having the best people has also been vital for supply chain management.”

Innovation of course becomes increasingly more important in the face of commercial challenges and opportunities. At the beginning of 2020, the biggest challenges we faced were around the depreciation in prices of timber, which affected saw mills. This meant that stock rotation needed to be very efficient to help counteract this challenge. The way we overcame this at our terminals in the UK was to continue to streamline our forecasting and ordering processes to achieve maximum efficiency.

Technology has played a big role in making our processes more efficient as we have our own systems for forecasting. Having the best people has also been vital for supply chain management. Our resource-efficient production processes ensure ecologically sustainable production.

Metsä Wood's strategy can be summed up in two words – ‘industrial efficiency’ – which for customers means commitment, reliability and high quality. Supporting construction and industrial businesses has continued to increase in importance for Metsä Wood UK.

We have seen continuous growth in joinery sales in the UK. That is why we’ve expanded to Ipswich and we have seen year-on-year growth for four years. Furthermore, consumers and DIY stores appreciate the high quality products we are selling.

As part of Metsä Wood's commitment to innovation, we have started a project called ‘Open Source Wood’, which is a global platform for knowledge sharing and innovation related to wood construction. It connects designers and architects from all over the world and allows them to share ideas free of charge and connect with other professionals. We also operate a Timber Academy, which offers specialist training courses online and at our Boston site.

Whilst, like most businesses, we have faced challenges due to the global COVID-19 crisis, we have continued to work closely with our customers and partners throughout this period. We believe that building with wood will continue to play an important role in industry’s transition towards greater environmental sustainability and will help drive the UK’s economic recovery in the years to come.