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When Currencies Fall, Export Growth Is Supposed -2-

11 Jun 2017 6:53 pm

Around 80% of the timber used in U.K. construction is imported, mainly from Scandinavia, according to the Timber Trade Federation. It isn't easy for Britain's construction industry, which is responsible for around 7% of GDP, to shift quickly to domestic suppliers.

Keith Ainslie of James Jones & Sons Ltd, the U.K.'s largest sawmill, says the company's main plant in Lockerbie, Scotland, is already "working full tilt." Processing more logs would mean building another sawmill, a roughly GBP60 million project that would take around three years to get up and running.

Nature also acts as a limit. "We're constrained by the availability of trees," says Mr. Ainslie. It takes 40 to 55 years to grow a crop of trees to maturity.

Still, some companies see the pound's fall as an opportunity to expand. Mark Driver is setting up Rathfinny Wine Estate on England's southeastern coast. The price of equipment he needs to import, such as wine presses and bottling machinery, has increased since Brexit.

Nevertheless, the former hedge-fund manager thinks the pound's decline is good news. By 2025, he says, he aims to be producing around one million bottles of sparkling wine a year and sending half of that overseas.

A "weaker pound helps us," he says. "Long term, I think it's really positive."
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 11, 2017 14:53 ET (18:53 GMT)

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