Price & Pierce Forest Products discusses the current market challenges

Price & Pierce Forest Products discusses the current market challenges

With an incredible history that references both Napoleon and the NFL’s New England Patriots, Price & Pierce Forest Products is a leading supplier of responsibly sourced timber, plywood and panel products from across the globe. PBM spoke with the company’s Keith Fagg to discover more about the firm’s merchant offer and how it is responding to the current market challenges. 

As laid out in fascinating detail on the company’s website, the story of Price & Pierce begins in 1812 “when Napoleon was successfully blockading the Swedish ports to deny Britain access for masts and spars for their navy.” To source the necessary timber, the British Admiralty sent one Mr. William Price to Canada — and the mission was a resounding success.

William Price remained in Canada, building up a “very substantial timber business” which was duly passed on to his sons. In the 1860s, William’s son Edward came to England to establish a UK office and in 1869 formed a timber agency partnership with John Pierce of Liverpool. The partnership flourished and by 1905, Price & Pierce floated on the London Stock Exchange as a Public Limited Company.

International expansion and diversification followed over the ensuing years whilst in 2019, the total shareholding of Price & Pierce Forest Products was acquired by International Forest Products (IFP) — a subsidiary of the Kraft Group conglomerate, placing the company within the same corporate structure as the all-conquering New England Patriots American Football team, and the New England Revolution, one of the founding franchises of Major League Soccer.

In conversation with PBM, Price & Pierce’s Keith Fagg states that “Becoming part of the Kraft Group has been a tremendous positive and has led to Price & Pierce being able to increase our operations within the UK timber trade both in terms of the existing portfolio of products and other new products.”

Within that portfolio is a range that, as the firm’s website attests, is “globally sourced and sustainable… to suit all of your construction needs”. Keith explains further: “We offer a very broad base of products which includes; sheet materials (TG4 chipboard, MDF, OSB, structural hardwood & softwood plywood), structural timber, decking, sleepers, fencing materials, joinery softwood, door cores, with more supply being sourced all the time.”

With stock operations based in Poole, Tilbury, Hull and Creeksea offering a variety of products from each location, the firm provides just in time deliveries to meet the requirements of national, regional and local merchants across all parts of the country.

Typically, says Keith, the business works on a two-day delivery lead time and merchant support is a vital component of the company’s service provision. He says: “Our sales offices will always have people on hand to advise merchants on any technical issues or questions. With many employees having worked for Price & Pierce and in the timber trade for over 30 years, there are not many questions we cannot answer.

“Over the years we have seen big changes in the timber trade with merchants wanting a range of materials on a single delivery as they look to offer their customers a more diverse product range. With this trend, Price & Pierce has also adapted and in doing so we look to offer a one stop shop service.”

To meet the ever-evolving needs of its customers, Keith added: “We will often supply samples to our customers to show them the quality of what we have to offer, giving them confidence in a material before they purchase it. We also supply technical data sheets for our products and certification to show that our products have been responsibly sourced and are environmentally friendly.

“Further to this we are also members of TRADA who, when needed, can provide us with advice and assurance on our products.”

With security of responsibly sourced supply and ensuring products are fit for their intended purpose being vital and long standing issues in the timber industry, Keith notes: “There are certainly challenges when it comes to the performance of sheet materials and that they actually meet the criteria for the class use they have been marked with. Furthermore, the management of forests is also an important issue as we look to protect the environment as the threat of global warming and damage to habitats continues to grow.”

He adds: “The industry has seen a real focus on making sure products reach the class standard they are assigned. More testing has been carried out to ensure the required criteria are achieved, and there is a focus on regular mill visits to ensure standards are being met.”

With the coronavirus crisis continuing to present an unprecedented challenge, and ongoing uncertainty about the precise nature of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU and the rest of the world lingering as we approach the end of the transition period, Keith remains resolute about the future: “Despite the current economic climate, the timber trade has done particularly well with a very strong market at the moment. Having said that, we know this will not last forever and it is through keeping a diverse product range that we have the ability to focus on different areas of the market in order to maintain a strong and stable business.

“Brexit is obviously a big talking point, but just as Price & Pierce has adapted over time by holding more stock on the ground and venturing further from our historical agency basis, we will continue to expand our range of stocks on the ground and as the transition period ends, if needed, adapt deliveries in the event of any possible delay that might be experienced.”

For more information on the Price & Pierce product portfolio and its range of merchant support services, go to:

A version of this article originally appeared in PBM’s December edition. Please click here to read the full issue online.

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