Expert for Wood-based panels

Simon Woods

European Sales, Marketing & Logistics Director


Simon Woods

Simon joins the BMBI Expert panel with almost 24 years’ experience of working in the construction products sector and with builders’ merchants. His previous roles include 10 years with the leading adhesives brand Bostik, five years in the bathroom sector working with Twyford & Methan, and five years with roofing manufacturer Icopal.

West Fraser (trading as Norbord Europe Ltd) 

West Fraser the UK’s number one engineered wood panel manufacturer serving DIY, housebuilding and construction markets. Its extensive panel range, which has now been certified as net carbon negative, includes FSC certified flooring, panelling and roofing products, with well known brands such as SterlingOSB Zero, CaberFloor and CaberWood MDF commonly specified by architects, national housebuilders and specifiers. West Fraser’s European manufacturing operations span three UK plants: Cowie and Inverness in Scotland; and South Molton in Devon as well as Genk, in Belgium

In February 2021 Norbord joined the West Fraser organisation – an international organisation specialising in diversified wood products with more than 60 facilities in Canada, the United States and Europe. From responsibly-sourced and sustainably-managed forest resources, West Fraser produces lumber, engineered wood (OSB, LVL, MDF, plywood, particleboard), and other products including pulp, newsprint, wood chips and renewable energy. Its products are used in construction, repair and remodelling, industrial applications, papers, tissue and box materials.



Twitter: @WestFraserUK

West Fraser Comment: Q3 2023

The construction industry is no stranger to economic fluctuations and environmental concerns, however what we are currently seeing is clearly worse than the normal fluctuations.

Inflation is a critical economic indicator that directly impacts the construction industry. While it may be encouraging to see inflation falling, the rate of decline is slower than we might hope for. Interest rates have recently stopped their upward climb, providing some relief for borrowers. However, the term “higher for longer” is now a common refrain among economists. While this scenario might be advantageous for consumers in the short term, the long-term implications for construction financing need to be considered. For those of us involved in residential construction, the shift in mortgage rates is significant. The end of fixed-rate mortgages means potential homeowners will need to grapple with variable interest rates or a new fixed rate – both at much higher levels than the fixed rate they are exiting.

Construction projects often span multiple years, and contractors must anticipate potential interest rate increases, which can impact project costs and profitability and often lead to projects being shelved due to overall project costs. The lacklustre expansion of our GDP limits the availability of new projects and constrains economic opportunities for construction. Unemployment levels are a mixed bag for the construction industry. On one hand, historically low unemployment rates indicate a robust job market, which can attract skilled workers to the industry. On the other hand, the recent increase in unemployment levels is a cause for concern.

All in all, we are facing difficult conditions, which don’t seem to be changing fast enough to make 2024 much more interesting than 2023.

One of the most noteworthy developments in the construction industry is the increasing prominence of timber as a construction material. As environmental concerns grow, the focus on sustainable building practices becomes more pronounced. Timber has emerged as a champion in this regard, offering a renewable and carbon-friendly alternative to traditional construction materials like concrete and steel. Timber buildings sequester carbon, promote energy efficiency, and reduce the industry’s overall carbon footprint…..a positive beacon in an otherwise difficult view.