Northumberland’s biggest employer Egger tops £300m turnover in 35th anniversary year

Northumberland manufacturing giant Egger UK Ltd has topped turnover of £300m following a year of solid growth.

The Hexham wood panel maker forms part of an international, privately-owned group of companies based in Austria with operations across Europe making a range of materials.

The products made in Hexham are used in a raft of every day items, including kitchenware, bedrooms and offices, wall panelling in hotels, counters and shelving in shops and structural flooring for the housebuilding industry.

The firm has published accounts for the year ended April 30 2019 showing a 6.5% uplift in turnover to £300.4m, as well as a 7.5% rise in Ebitda to £49.7m. Operating profit rose by 21% from £29.7m to £35.96m.

The firm also increased its workforce from 716 to 740 people across its sites in Hexham and Ayrshire, taking up its wages bill from £28.6m to £29.9m.

In a report accompanying the accounts, directors were positive about the results but sounded a cautionary note on Brexit and on the biomass industry, which is continuing to put pressure on its business.

The directors said in the report: “Egger UK, like all companies in the UK, is subject to challenges presented by the economy.

“Although market conditions remained fairly positive throughout the year ended April 30 2019, the UK economy and maket remains vulnerable to certain risks and uncertainties, in particular an unorderly exit from the EU, ie a ‘hard Brexit’.

“Wood is the main raw material used to make wood panels. The biomass industry continues to increase its demand for wood, thereby causing upwards price and availability pressure on wood. The price and availability risks are mitigated by Egger UK entering into long term contracts with key suppliers.”

Following publication of the results, Bob Livesey, commercial director for Egger Western Europe, said: “Our performance is testament to the hard work of all our employees and their dedication in ensuring that we reliably deliver high-quality products and service to our customers, as well as optimising our processes.

“We are proud to be able to fulfil the UK market demand as a reliable, domestic provider. We have also continued to invest in our plant and machinery to ensure that we continue to have high-performing, safe, state-of-the-art facilities.

“This year we launch our new 2020 Egger Decorative Collection and, after having hundreds of customers visit our Hexham site to view the collection over the past four months, the feedback has been extremely positive. We are well placed, with our products, investments, and employees, to maintain our market position and performance. There is a growing demand for wood-based materials due to their sustainability, and environmental benefits over other materials.”

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Bernd Steinlechner, finance director for Egger Western Europe added: “In 2019, we celebrated Egger Hexham’s 35th anniversary.

“Over those 35 years we have established ourselves as the largest private employer in Northumberland, now directly employing over 600 people as well as a further 200 at our plant in Ayrshire and within our Forestry and Timberak operations.

“As well as creating direct employment in our local areas, there is also a large network of indirect employment especially within the transport and forestry industries. We have a focus to recruit locally and to grow our own talent, which is evident through our award winning apprenticeship scheme.

“We continue to be committed to the development of our employees as well as the continued investments in our plants and our products which will allow us to continue to deliver high quality products and service to our customers.

“As for the outlook, there still remains uncertainty over what the post-Brexit world will look like, and especially in what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be. Although our wood is locally sourced from within the UK, certain other raw materials and engineering parts are imported and therefore it is beneficial that there continues to be a good trade relationship.”