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News Announcement -  6th August 2010

From forests to France: Longford timber firm gains valuable French contract

 

 

THE RAPID downturn in the Irish construction industry was the catalyst for timber-processing firm Glennon Brothers to make a profitable entry to the French market this year.
The Longford firm, established in 1913 and run by brothers Pat and Mike Glennon (right), enjoyed rapid growth on the back of the construction boom. Turnover grew from €8 million in 1991 to hit a peak of €70 million in 2007 and the firm now has five processing plants in Ireland and Scotland.
"To maintain operations at near full production, we have to export," says Mike Glennon. "The natural market for us is the UK but because we are a commodity business, we have huge exposure to currency exchange. We really needed to get into a euro market."
Through existing contacts, the firm identified a French timber importer who, while initially sceptical of the quality of product from Ireland and Britain, agreed to visit one of the Glennon plants in Scotland.
From there the relationship grew, with Glennon Brothers signing a deal to ship €1.5 million worth of timber to France at the end of last year. It is understood to be the first time that timber has been exported from Britain or Ireland to France.
By identifying a niche for wood lengths that large suppliers in Scandinavia could not or would not supply, the business has now grown to more than €3 million in revenues.
"The business came at a time, the tail end of last year and first quarter this year, when we normally have a seasonal slowdown," says Glennon. "It has kept us on a five-day week."
Although Glennon admits he has had limited exposure to the French market, he says business decisions seem to take longer. "The French like to form a relationship with you, although price is also an important consideration."
Although Glennon Brothers has looked at other markets such as the Benelux countries, Glennon says the firm is likely to continue to focus on France when the exclusive contract with the importer finishes at the end of the year.
"France is going so well for us we don't want to over-commit," he says.
JOHN COLLINS

 

 


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