David Hopkins, MD of the Timber Trade Federation, introduced the new TTF 2016 strategy to a well attended bi-monthly meeting.
David explained what was being done at the TTF to change the nature of the somewhat passive organisation that he has recently taken over. The new vision was for a federation whose members would supply the UK with fit for purpose, sustainable timber products and that the TTF would be the guardian of product standards, quality and sustainability. The aim was that buying from TTF members would mean ‘buying with confidence’.
The RPP has been central to TTF membership but was ‘past it’s sell by date’ and needed updating in light of the EUTR, David explained that as a trader the new RPP would be less onerous, but that there would be changes for operators, which we would hear from his colleague Michael Worrel on shortly. The new RPP is being designed as a tool to help members sell more rather than the ‘self flagellation’ of the past - it will be less bothersome but just as robust.
The government has cut funding to CPET and the TTF is going to take on the role and is developing a training course, with the aim that it can also be delivered by members to their clients, architects etc. at a regional level. This will be RIBA accredited and a beta version would soon be available and members need to help with the development and use of this and take the opportunity to get in front of customers.
The TTF has received a £400k government grant to assist with B2B trade input to FLEGT. This will focus on Ghana, Cameron and China.
There is to be targeted advertising and promotion directly through trade association magazines such as Federation of Master Builders, Builders Merchant’s Federation, Association of Shop Fitters etc. More prominence through a ‘look for the logo’ to promote TTF members is planned.
David explained that the TTF was going to be getting to grips with the Chinese plywood issue, the ‘horse meat lasagne’ issue of the timber trade. Self regulation should be preferred and an independent review process was underway headed by Charlie Law (ex. head buyer at BAM). The TTF has visited China and the local trade groups there are equally concerned – this will take a year or so to get to grips with.
A new Statistical Review for 2016 would be coming out soon. The TTF is actively putting more money in to statistics and analysis. Available figures were between 3-18months old and hence backward looking. Through communication with members and their customers the aim is to produce a biannual forward looking forecast.
An overhaul of the TTF website was being undertaken, with a tune up of the search engine as ‘everyone, everywhere, stocking everything’, just isn’t true and ultimately isn’t helpful to buyers. It is proposed that the regional pages are hosted centrally with the aim of a better connection between buyers and members.
David announced that the CTI, which is seeking to be the trade association of trade associations is due to report shortly after their first assessment of the whole market. The BWF has joined the CTI, so after last year’s issues everyone was back playing nicely in the sandpit.
Finally there was an overview of the TTF team and organisation, almost all new and ready to embrace the exciting changes ahead. Members were advised that the TTF had a meeting room available to them in their London office for use at any time.
There was a Q&A session where LHC members sought to expand on some areas through discussion.
Overall LHC members were impressed with the vibrancy and direction of travel that the new MD is bringing to the TTF and thank him for his presentation.
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