Business Irish

Saturday 21 April 2018

Coillte hit by construction sector woes

The government will not be selling off the harvesting rights of Coillte
The government will not be selling off the harvesting rights of Coillte
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

PROFITS fell at forestry guardian Coillte last year as the construction industry struggled and electricity costs rose.

Turnover at the semi-state body rose by 1pc to €262m in 2012, but operating profit fell almost 16pc to €35m.

"The construction sector, where Coillte generates the majority of its revenue, remains a challenging environment," said chief executive Gerry Britchfield. "I am confident, however, that we can continue to face these challenges by seeking out new markets and increasing the range of products and services we offer."

The firm, which employs 1,000 people in Ireland, the UK and Europe, has four main business areas: forestry management, wood panel manufacturing, renewable energy and land management.

All aspects of its forestry business performed satisfactorily, though timber prices weakened towards the end of the year. Exports accounted for 56pc of its sales, most of which went to the UK.

Prices were stable but lower than expected in its panelling business, "which remains a key issue for us in 2013", said Britchfield.

A merger with Bord na Mona looks likely. "Coillte will participate fully and proactively in evaluating how to give effect to a beneficial merger of Coillte with Bord na Mona to create a strong commercial state company operating in the bio-energy and forestry sectors," he added.

The company paid a €2m dividend to the Government for the year.

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