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Book launch on anniversary

Scottish Woodlands marks milestone year

Scottish Woodlands BrowneScottish Woodlands’ celebrated its 50th year appropriately with a special tree planting ceremony and the launch of a book on forestry.

The Riccarton-based company marked the year to 30 September 2016 with £1 million increase in turnover to £70.4m and profits rising from £1.315m to £1.575m, an increase of 19.77%.

Scottish Woodlands chairman Tom R Bruce-Jones, also joint managing director of sawmiller James Jones & Sons, a 20% shareholder in Scottish Woodlands, said: “The Brexit vote and US election result have created uncertain macro conditions which could impact for a long period of time. The strengthening of the euro after Brexit has, however, made domestic processors more competitive.

“Politically [in Scotland], there appears to be a focus on planting and restocking and it is hoped this impetus will continue as well as providing the platform for stronger investor confidence in forestry.”

To mark the 50th anniversary of the company, published The Wood and the Trees: A History of Scottish Woodlands Ltd and its People, telling the story of the company.

The book recounts the drama of two management buy-outs, in 1986 and 2005, and landmark moments such as the ‘great windblow’ of 1968 and Nigel Lawson’s 1988 Budget which made major changes to forestry’s tax position and led to a slump in tree planting.

Ralland Browne, managing director, said: “It is striking how our own history has mirrored that of forestry in Scotland.

“We became a commercial company in 1967, the year of the last Forestry Act – and as we turn 50, a new Forestry Bill is coming before the Scottish Parliament.

“There have been ups and downs along the way, but the company and the wider forestry and wood-processing industry are both in good health in 2017 – and we are optimistic for the future, with a strong focus on driving up tree planting rates.”

Mr Browne helped to plant a celebration woodland of 50 trees at Crieff Hydro, with resort operations director Russell Crighton.

“I have been planting trees at Crieff Hydro for almost 30 years – and won a forestry award for my work there back in 1991,” said Mr Browne. “The company’s relationship with Crieff Hydro goes back well beyond then, and I estimate that we have planted at least quarter of a million trees here.

“Crieff Hydro has been a great client and it was the natural place to plant the 50th birthday celebration woodland – and to host our AGM where we gave a copy of our anniversary book to all our staff.”

Mr Browne added: “The book ends by saying that forestry is an industry where it is not always crucial to be fast-moving – and that continuity, loyalty and excellence are important in keeping the confidence of clients, and Scottish Woodlands Ltd has achieved that rather well.

“That’s why it was right to come to Crieff Hydro to mark our 50th birthday with people who really matter to us – one of our long-term clients and our staff. Our people make the company and we have tried to reflect that very strongly in the book.”

Scottish Woodlands has more than 140 staff, with around half of them owning shares.

Photo: Ralland Browne (left), Managing Director of Scottish Woodlands, with Crieff Hydro Resort Operations Director Russell Crighton

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