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Blow as the strath hears of planned closure of Boat of Garten sawmill

By Tom Ramage

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Badenoch and Strathspey was rocked today with the shock news of the impending closure of Boat of Garten's long established BSW Timber sawmill.

A statement from Tony Hackney, CEO at BSW Group, confirmed: "BSW Group has announced the proposed closure of their site at Boat of Garten, one of the oldest of seven BSW Timber sawmills in the UK.

Boat of Garten sawmill
Boat of Garten sawmill

"As a result of a global downturn across the industry and the drive to improve efficiencies, this decision has been proposed and regrettably puts 40 roles at risk.

“Since our acquisition by Binderholz, we have continued to make significant investments in technology, innovation and processes, which will enable the business to achieve its future growth plans and efficiency targets.

“However, under the backdrop of a pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, increasing energy costs and a 40-year high in cost-of-living expenses, the timber industry has experienced a global downturn.

“To counter the impact of this, we have had to make the very tough decision to propose to close our sawmill at Boat of Garten from 30th September 2022.

Fergus Ewing MSP: "It's devastating."
Fergus Ewing MSP: "It's devastating."

“We wish to emphasise to our customers and suppliers that it is business as normal and that together we will prosper and become more resilient.

“We regret the uncertainty this announcement will cause to our employees and will ensure they are supported throughout the process.”

MSP Fergus Ewing told the Strathy: “This is simply devastating news, following as it does closely after the purchase by Binderholz of the BSW business from Endless equity house.

"Boat of Garten is one of the major industrial sites in the Highlands and major employer in the Strathspey area. I had understood that there were hopes of investment by the company but these have not come to pass.

"I have spoken informally with HIE CEO this morning and have informed the Scottish Government Minister and have asked that she seek an urgent meeting with the owners of the company.

Councillor Bill Lobban: "It's drastic news".
Councillor Bill Lobban: "It's drastic news".

"Every effort must be made and will be made to find a way of keeping the business at the Boat site and the employees in work. Whilst there is a downturn the sector will recover and there are many opportunities in the sawmilling sector.

"I am sure that the Scottish Government and the Enterprise agency along with Forest and Land Scotland will make every effort to retain the site and the workforce in employment there."

Local Highland councillor Bill Lobban, convener of the Highland Council, told the Strathy: "It's drastic news for the whole area."

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