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Badenoch timber firm submits £400k plans for growth

By Tom Ramage

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A Badenoch business which is bucking both the Brexit and Covid trends wants the green light for a £400,000 expansion.

Russwood Ltd, the high-quality timber supplier operating from Newtonmore and Glasgow, has 54 staff on its payroll and needs more room to move.

Highland Council planners have received their proposals for a new warehouse extension with integral offices at Blairs Shed by the Station Sawmill.

The company envisages a large, environmentally sustainable storage shed with two-storey office and staff facilities on the village's industrial estate.

John Russell, boss of Newtonmore based Russwood
John Russell, boss of Newtonmore based Russwood

Managing director John Russell told the Strathy: "We're continuing to grow in England, where the construction industry is pretty buoyant, not having been affected so badly by the Covid situation. We're needing a bigger dry storage facility here and better office accommodation."

Brexit had brought its difficulties, said Mr Russell, but the firm had adapted quickly, especially since 80 per cent of the high grade timbers Russwood specialised in had to be imported: "And 60 per cent of that goes to England."

The strath's recruiting difficulties, with so little readily available housing, had been offset with the added Glasgow base where staff were not so difficult to accommodate.

Over three decades the company has continued to establish itself as one of the leading suppliers of high-quality timber flooring and cladding as well as lumber for the construction industry throughout the UK.

Its products have featured on many award-winning architect designed buildings, including their own offices on the site, in promoting the cross-laminated timber favoured for its carbon-footprint reducing results.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Russwood have increased their online sales and the company, Mr Russell said, was set to continue expanding via that medium.

As architects HRI Munro of Inverness explain in their design statement to the planning authority: "Storage capacity has reached its limits and an extension to provide additional dry storage for organising and packaging finished timber product awaiting despatch has become a high priority. In addition, the current facility lacks office space and staff welfare facilities in this part of the overall complex."

The present warehouse was a simple steel portal framed building with no office or staff welfare facilities. Two old sheds in the yard were in poor shape and created a strategic problem in terms of material movement: "It is proposed that these blockwork and timber framed sheds with corrugated steel cladding be removed to make way for the new extension.

"The yard manager is currently situated in a small portacabin in the yard and these facilities are not adequate."

The brief was simple: to provide additional storage for finished product that is sorted into order consignments, packaged and stacked on racking awaiting collection or despatch; environmentally-controlled storage for the water-based paint product and modern office, storage and staff welfare facilities for five staff.

The existing 30m x 18m warehouse would grow by 24m as a simple extrusion continuing the existing profile, materials, and colours.

The new store is proposed for the north-west end of the building, facing the sawmill.

"No additional staff are required to service this development. In addition, most of the site staff live very near to the Russwood facility, and they walk or cycle to work. As a result, the applicant can confirm that it is rare for there to be any more than 20 staff cars on the site at any one time.

"As the site currently can accommodate 64 parking spaces, there is a significant over-provision and as such it is not proposed to provide any additional staff parking for this facility."

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