Big River sets up strong supply for 2024

by | Feb 23, 2024

Demand for timber decking products is this year being driven by strong activity in the alterations and additions market which has been consistent for some time. Big River Executive General Manager – Construction Ray Ferretti says just some of the products that are consistently on trend include Australian Spotted Gum, Blackbutt and Jarrah.

“These products have been very popular as have imported hardwood decking species such as Merbau. Treated timber products that are used in decking construction have also remained strong,” Mr Ferretti said.

Composite decking is also expected to remain strong given the increasing supply challenges within the Australian hardwood sector.

“Composite decking is also freely available and has the same advantages as timber decking, including reduced maintenance, moisture and tor resistance, and durability,” Mr Ferretti said.

With native forest logging expected to cease in Victoria and Western Australia this year, Mr Ferretti says it may be difficult to source some species with some supply expected to become increasingly problematic.

“As local supply becomes difficult to source, retailers will need to look at increasing their exposure for composite and imported hardwood products. The market is also likely to become more dependent on imports. When the building cycle is at its peak again, I expect that locally produced structural timber will struggle to meet demand and imported timber will play a critical role in meeting the shortfall in supply,” he said.

Although growth in the Australian building industry has stagnated for now, Mr Ferretti says the industry will always be cyclical and the underlying demand for these types of products is strong, “so we expect this to continue as the market lifts”.

To reassure customers that supply will remain healthy this year, Mr Ferretti reiterated that the Big River Group remains strongly aligned with the best and most capable suppliers in the industry.

“We are committed to ensuring we have the best quality products available throughout our national distribution sites across all regions,” he said.

Despite the slowing building market, there has been a significant shift towards DIY in the past couple of years because there is now so much online information available to consumers when undertaking  DIY projects. 

It is for this reason that consumers have become far more confident in undertaking their own projects and this trend will only become stronger in time, Mr Ferretti concluded.

Big River flooring

Big River’s National Flooring Manager Mark Wardrop says flooring products that have remained particularly popular this season include Big River’s pre-finished engineered timber flooring, which the group offers in Australian native hardwood such as Blackbutt and Spotted Gum.

“Australian hardwoods Blackbutt and Spotted Gum are traditional timber floors that are always embraced in the market and will continue to be a classic flooring option. European Oak is also popular as it offers a wider colour range that can complement different styles and finishes of a residence,” Mr Wardrop said. 

Big River has gone on to recently launch a new palette of on-trend colours that were specially selected by a panel of architects and designers,” 

The new range will compliment Big River’s existing suite of products including its new Generation Australian HWD pre-finished plank in 3/14 180 millimetres,  Parquetry Herringbone 3/14 135 by 675 millimetres in European Oak and Parquetry Herringbone 3/14 150 by 900 millimetres. 

Looking to the building industry as a whole, while the industry has slowed locally, Big River has continued to achieve growth within the timber flooring category. This is primarily due to the ongoing popularity of the European Oak on-trend colour palette selection, entry into multi-residential segment and its exposure with custom designer builders. Mr Wardrop says a strong relationship with suppliers will also ensure an ongoing supply to customers in the months ahead.

“Being a national business and incorporated for more than 100 years, Big River is fortunate to have established strong alliances with our suppliers locally and internationally. Leveraging our national footprint, we import direct from suppliers overseas so that we are sourcing direct, seeking new opportunities, having a diverse supply chain and managing the logistics directly. This also ensures us that we have the ability to pivot as market conditions change,” Mr Wardrop concluded.