Sales rise for timber distributors

Timber suppliers James Latham enjoyed a 7.90 per cent rise in sales to £212.8 million for its latest half year.

James Latham has a depot in Dudley
James Latham has a depot in Dudley

It was up from £193.9m in the six months to end of September last year.

The business, which has its West Midlands branch at Yorks Park, Dudley, said that cost prices on both timber and panels have risen at a much slower rate than in the previous financial year but they are remaining stable and there are currently little signs of price weakness.

Chairman Nick Latham said he was pleased that volumes have remained at similar levels to the same period last year, despite the economy being weaker.

Pre-tax profit was down from £34m to £23.7m as a result of margins returning to expected levels.

Mr Latham said overheads had been well controlled during the six months, although the increases in inflation especially around energy and transport costs had inevitably led to an increase.

The second half of 2022-2023 has started with slightly weaker volumes than the previous six months.

Mr Latham said that the supply chain had become easier over the past six months, with fewer extended lead times on its products.

"Cost prices of the majority of our products are stable at the moment, but there are still uncertainties as to the effect of energy costs and other inflationary pressures on the overheads for our key manufacturers. Recent drops in container rates have affected the cost prices for products that have been shipped via container, but these have been artificially high since Covid-19 and we expected them to come down to more normal rates.

"There are a few market sectors, such as the merchant sector, that are quieter at the moment, but many of our other customers have steady order books and remain busy, but are clearly nervous looking at the macro economic conditions next year."

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