Forestry and timber company BSW Timber is building a new sawmill, Combined Heat and Power plant, and band pellet manufacturing facility in Slovenia.

The £35 million investment covers three sites, including a modern sawmill in Gomilsko, a pellet production and wood biomass cogeneration in Šoštanj. A final site in Letuš will focus on value added products including tile battens, scaffold boards, and lamellas for Cross Laminated Timber production. Alexander Brownlie, Commercial Director of BSW and Chairman of BSW SIovenia, said this added value comes from the higher quality of wood available in Slovenian forests.

The new sawmill will be able to process an annual input in excess of 300,000mᶟ sawlogs, making it the largest mill in Slovenia. Its products will be available for the Slovenian market, however BSW plans to also export to international markets, including the UK. Production is set to begin in 2019, with exports to the UK arriving the following year.

The Slovenian site comes as the UK reports a timber shortage. Brownlie explained that BSW’s recent acquisition of forestry and timber harvesting company Tilhill allowed it to secure its raw materials in the UK, bypassing the shortage. He added that diversifying into Europe allows the company keep trade strong in the face of Brexit, while continuing to put its UK customers first: “These future plans will strengthen our position across Europe and improve access to high quality construction products that will benefit customers in the UK and elsewhere.

“The site in Gomilsko is the ideal location for our new sawmill, providing us with access to high quality raw material, a good history of timber processing, as well as the added advantage of the site’s geographical location, very good road links and with the Port of Koper offering excellent export links.”

He said there is high quality sustainability in Slovenia, which is also important to BSW, and it is working with Slovenian authorities to develop the management of its forests to ensure the security of supply there.

Tony Hackney, BSW’s CEO, said: “From our experience, every direct job at BSW goes on to create an additional five across a range of relating industries, such as harvesting and logistics. This would mean that from our 170 new roles, up to 850 additional jobs could be created across Slovenia.

“We are really excited about the new development, and look forward to a successful future, building relationships with suppliers, stockists and the timber professionals in Slovenia over the coming years.”