Industry News

BWF launches new employment guidance to help joinery businesses save money and time

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has launched a set of employment guides and new draft policies to support how a joinery business can employ, manage and appraise members of staff.

The raft of documents aims to provide clear guidance on often-tricky employment matters and allows BWF members to focus on manufacture and sell high-class joinery products.

The guidance features a new employee handbook that BWF members can adapt and use, along with further information on appraisal techniques and an example contract for prospective employees. This is in addition to template policies covering areas such as social media use, company vehicles, data protection and maternity/paternity leave.

The set of guides also includes downloadable information addressing the procedures for managing ill-health absence, how to set out a clear disciplinary and redundancy process and the right way to handle employment tribunal claims.

As well as aiding the management of staff, the new resources can help attract new employees, assist with Pre-qualification Questionnaires and support compliance with the BWF Code of Conduct which sets out the principles of good practice for a woodworking or joinery business.


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BWF State of Trade Survey: Business rates among main concerns for woodworking manufacturers

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has issued the results of its Joinery State of Trade Survey Q4 2016.

The consultation shows that the benefits of increased joinery sales are being balanced out by inflationary pressures such as wages and the impact of exchange rates on raw material costs.

With business rates changes set to hit many joinery companies from April, the balance of respondents reported that rates for their current property would increase as a result of the recent revaluations, with almost one third expecting an increase of over 5%.

BWF Policy & Communications Executive Matt Mahony commented on the state of the joinery industry and the business rates changes: “With the cost of doing business a concern for many in our sector, we surveyed what the consequences of the Business Rates Revaluations would be and were concerned to find that almost a third of respondents indicated an incoming business rates increase of over 5 percent. The high street may have been a major focus of the ‘business rates revolt’, but further cost rises for our industry are unpalatable. There are undoubtedly companies that will benefit from the changes, but on balance our industry looks to be getting a bad deal from the revaluations – this is especially galling as we have long campaigned for low energy manufacturers to be incentivised and it makes no sense to include plant and machinery in rateable value when trying to drive investment and job creation.

“Looking at the rest of the survey, on the whole we saw a stable, although by no means easy quarter for the woodworking industry. Sales volumes had increased for 26% on balance and were anticipated to grow again for the next quarter (Q1 2017), but at a lower growth rate than before. Further depreciations in the Sterling also raised the cost of imported materials, meaning that raw materials continue to be the main driver of input price inflation, with wages & salaries also having a big impact on costs.

“Realistically it’s not a bad picture at this point of time, although uncertainty over the impact of Brexit continues to linger in the background as it has been for the last couple of quarters. You can see the impact on costs, but thankfully this doesn’t seem to have hit the investment intentions of joinery businesses or their plans to take on more staff.

“In the longer term the big questions are whether government and industry can work effectively to deliver new plans for housing and manufacturing and also to what extent the market will be able to capitalise on Brexit. First the sector will have to get to grips with the major changes in training which could help address the availability of skilled labour and the issue of joiners having to provide a broader spread of services to fill main contractor skills gaps on site."

Key points from the BWF Joinery State of Trade Survey Q4 2016 include:

  • A balance of 20% of respondents reported that business rates for their current property would increase as a result of recent Business Rates Revaluations in England & Wales with 32% of respondents indicating that their rates would increase by over 5%.
  • A balance of 26% of joinery companies reported an increase in sales volumes for Q4 2016 from the previous quarter. This follows on from 55% of joinery companies reporting an increase in sales volumes in Q3 2016 from Q2 2016.
  • Manufacturers felt that sales volumes would improve in the next quarter, with a balance of 34% predicting an increase for Q1 2017, and a balance of 22% predicting an increase over the next year.
  • 19% of companies reported a current order book of future work extending beyond 3 months – down 9% from the previous quarter - with 58% now saying that their order book extended from between 1 and 3 months.
  • Demand was listed as the most likely constraint on output over the next year by 45% of respondents. Capacity and labour availability came next, with 21% and 18% of respondents feeling that they were most likely to constrain output. Raw material prices had become the main factor for 13%.
  • 39% of respondents on balance reported increasing their labour force in the last year, with 57% of respondents anticipating an increased labour force over the next year.
  • Raw material costs were noted as the main inflationary factor for unit costs for 87% of respondents, with wages/salaries increases pushing up unit costs for 81% of respondents on balance.
  • Exchange rates were a factor in inflating unit costs for 57% of respondents – having risen from 5% a year previously.
  • 67% of respondents on balance reported an inflationary impact in unit costs through fuel costs.
  • Investment in product improvement had been increased by 50% of companies on balance over the past year, with a balance of 51% to boost investment over the next year.
  • Investment in manufacturing equipment spending had been increased by 53% of companies on balance over the past year, with a balance of 66% to boost investment over the next year.


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BWF launches new Group to support interior Joinery

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has launched a new Wood Interiors Group specifically designed to benefit and support those involved with interior joinery products.

The Group met for the first time in London on 24th January 2017 to discuss the core issues the industry is facing.

The event featured presentations from sustainable architectural and interior design expert Oliver Heath and Ed Suttie, Research Director at BRE Centre for Sustainable Products.

BWF members had the opportunity to debate business and technical topics such as contract and project management, market analysis, materials and design trends, skills and training, in addition to the best ways to promote the indoor air quality, materials health and sustainability of timber interiors.

Iain McIlwee, BWF Chief Executive, commented: “It is great to see this new group forming in the BWF as there are some really knotty issues that we need to do more to collectively solve around PQQs and in ensuring our end-users understand and fully realise the benefits of timber and capabilities of our supply chain.  I was particularly enthused to hear from both Ed and Oliver just how quickly the advancements in understanding Materials Health and Biophilic design are coming along.  This is an area that has huge potential for helping to grow market share for timber."

“As Ed and Oliver both pointed out there is a natural progression from considering the sustainability of buildings to measuring their impact on human health and wellbeing.  Our natural affinity to timber is something we intuitively know, but have not fully explored – timber can help us relax – research, for example shows that timber beds reduce stress, improve quality of sleep and reduce heart beat rate by around 3,500 per day.”

Further information about BWF’s Wood Interiors Group is available at:


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BWF comments proposed Circular Economy British Standard

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has responded to the BSI consultation on the draft Circular Economy Framework Standard – BS8001 highlighting the importance of modifying the current system of consumption and production.

The proposed BSI Framework Standard aims to be a guide for implementing the principles of the circular economy in organisations, to apply to any sector.

In its response, BWF outlined the following points:

  • A practical suite of standards to support various sectors would contribute more than a generic document drawing on information that is well covered elsewhere.
  • The standard should adopt the Ellen MacArthur Foundation depiction of the Circular Economy.  It would also be helpful to look at the waste hierarchy, ‘Reduce, Renew, Reuse, Recycle’ clearly showing that renewable options should be considered before dipping into non-renewable natural capital.
  • In terms of applicability, if is to have any merit as a British Standard, then it must be aligned as the key elements are being covered in EN15804. The UK should be adopting European standards where possible and not running parallel to them without good reason as a proliferation of different guidance often creates market confusion.
  • The existing management standards that the draft refers to don’t directly challenge the current models of consumption and production that Circular Economy thinking is trying to provide an alternative to.
  • There is a difference between recycled, downcycled and recyclable.  The fact that something can be recycled does not necessary mean that it will be or that it will be given equivalent usage, this deserves reference, Using a recyclable material may simply create another poor sustainable decision that delays a material hitting the waste stream via an energy intensive process that replaces a renewable option.

  • Not all natural resources are depleting, indeed across Europe and the US, there is a growing forest coverage that should be referenced as it provides a phenomenal opportunity for carbon capture and storage.

A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

The publication target date for the BS 8001 guide is Spring 2017.


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British Woodworking Federation calls for Apprenticeship Levy delay

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has announced it will support the call for one-year delay in the Apprenticeship Levy’s introduction

Whilst further information is expected imminently, the Apprenticeship Levy is currently scheduled to take effect in early 2017 and at the moment BWF, along with Build UK and the CBI, feel that this will give companies insufficient time to plan for the new arrangements. 

"With Apprenticeship Levy set to be introduced on 6 April 2017, some employers will be required to contribute to a new levy, and there will be changes to the funding for apprenticeship training for all employers", explains the BWF in a note.

"All employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million each year, will be required to make an investment in apprenticeships. Businesses can benefit from this investment by training apprentices, although how the proposals are likely to impact on smaller business is currently unclear."

For more information, click here.


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