ONE of Fort William’s largest employers, which is also part of the UK’s biggest sawmilling company, is hosting enterprise leaders from the regional development agency today (Tuesday 21 August) – to show off its latest developments and progress in a multi-million pound expansion project.
BSW Sawmills, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BSW Timber, is welcoming Board members from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to its two sites at Kilmallie in Fort William.
BSW Fort William currently employs 160 staff and produces around 160,000 cubic metres of sawn timber each year.
Over the past two years the sawmill has grown considerably. An £18million investment towards the first two phases of a longer term move to a new, larger site has allowed production to rise by 60 per cent.
Andy Rogers, Mill Manager at BSW Fort William, said: “We welcome the Board to the latest phase of the development of the new sawmill. HIE has supported us in our ambitious plans to grow our business by introducing the latest in production technology coupled with our desire to improving our use of renewable energy. We are now producing more home grown timber than ever before, supplying into the growing markets for sustainable timber in the UK.
“One of the points that we will be making to the Board is that this increased usage is dependent on there being an appropriate level of expansion of productive woodland across Scotland, to meet the future needs of our industry.”
Work on the new sawmill, only five miles west of Ben Nevis, is due to be complete by early 2013. The project includes two new biomass boilers fuelled by low value waste wood that is generated in the production process.
BSW Timber is a family owned company that was originally founded in 1848. It supplies sawn timber products to customers in the construction, pallet and packaging, fencing, gardening and DIY sectors.
Elaine Jones, Development Manager at HIE, said: “We have worked with BSW Sawmills for a number of years, including awarding £2.1m towards its new sawmill and relocation and also support in recruiting a graduate placement in 2010. Members of our Board visiting today will see a business which is an established cornerstone of the local economy and its growth plans are a sign of confidence in Fort William and the local skilled workforce.
“The relocation and expansion of the sawmill at Kilmallie takes advantage of the increasing timber supply potential from forests in the north and west. The larger site allows more efficient operation as there is more space and annual throughput more than doubles.”
The UK sawmilling industry has grown its market share since 2008 at the expense of imported products. This is due to investment in secondary operations allowing better presentation and quality of end products. Aligned to this, architects have been more willing to specify UK products given the cost and environmental benefits over imported timber.
The HIE Board is meeting in Fort William on Wednesday 22 August 2012. On Tuesday 21 August they are visiting West Highland College, Nevis Range, Ben Nevis Distillery and BSW Sawmills.
[Photographs are being taken at the visit and will be available from Wednesday morning. Please contact 01463 244238 or firstname.lastname@example.org]