Specialising in graded roofing batten

Timber Development UK meets Shaun Revill of SR Timber, a timber supplier focused on promoting BS5534-graded quality roofing battens to the UK market.

Shaun Revill is the SR in SR Timber. He co-founded the business in 2005, and is well-known in the trade as a specialist in timber roofing batten.

Shaun is an expert in timber roofing batten production, from log to the sawmill to distribution. For many years, his mantra has been promoting the importance of using only certified, quality batten in the UK roofing market. 

Today, SR Timber employs nine staff, nearly half of whom are female in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. 

Based in Huthwaite, North Nottinghamshire, the company has a sizeable import terminal at Immingham where it stocks significant volumes of its trademarked brand of BS5534 graded batten. 

Thousands of cubic meters of SR Timber’s Premium Gold batten are delivered into and out of the Immingham terminal each month, arriving consistently from Latvia and produced by the company’s long-standing sole partnership sawmill. 

Following in his family’s footsteps

(L-R) Shaun Revill and Andy Sawers

Shaun began his career in the roofing business on the tools working for his late father, a third-generation slater and tiler. 

Later, he went to work for a Swedish timber importer that specialised in the production, sales and distribution of roofing batten, where he expanded his knowledge of the industry and learnt more about timber production and distribution.  

After a spell as a timber agent, using his knowledge of Swedish and Latvian sawmills to bring suppliers and customers together, Shaun partnered with a leading UK roofing contractor at the time to establish SR Timber. 

The business was formed along with its sister business, a Latvian timber sawmill, which since that day has been its only source of roofing batten, procuring logs and boards, producing batten that is quality-checked and third-party certified to BS5534.

The two businesses and their sole partnership agreements go back to the early 2000s when both businesses were formed, with management relations going back even further to the early 1990s. This longstanding history brings trust and understanding of each other’s business needs, and they are seen by many as one company. 

Image: SR Timber’s sister business is a Latvian timber sawmill.

Each month they have combined management meetings, covering all aspects of the business, from raw material purchases of logs to shipping schedule planning, through to individual business strategies in both the UK and Latvia.

Meeting British Standards

SR Timber created one of the first coloured batten brands in the UK market, a way to easily identify its source, at a time when changes and updates to BS5534 were in process. The business created its trademarked Premium Gold graded roofing batten, which has been sold and distributed nationally since 2008.    

Premium Gold graded roofing batten meets all the quality requirements of the relevant British Standards. The easily accessible online product data sheets provide a very clear overview of everything from the product’s grading processes and treatment details, to legality and sustainability certification. Importantly, the batten is not only graded in its board form, but in a secondary process too, with all individual battens also graded to ensure size consistency. 

This second quality check is a process that not many can boast of as the space required for this secondary audit in production requires a 25m x 10m table complete with a conveyor to assist grading. It does, however, ensure that the correctly sized 25x50mm and 25x38mm batten is produced on every occasion – adhering strictly to BS5534.

Market pressures and resulting performance

Timber supply has been particularly volatile since the Covid pandemic. Like many materials demand increased, prices rocketed, and the market was flooded with new entrants and some inferior-grade roofing batten. 

As a result, and due to reduced demand caused by an economic slowdown in new housebuilding and the RMI market, price deflation was prevalent in 2023 and prices fell way beyond market expectations.

While SR Timber has a loyal customer base, like many businesses it was affected by these market conditions and overall demand reduced. The company decided to expand its range and increase the product portfolio mix to help customers and expand its customer base. 

Today, alongside the core Premium Gold brand, SR Timber also stocks and sells structural graded carcassing and OSB, CLS, cedar shingles, scaffold boards and far more dimensions and volumes of specialist ancillary roofing timber. As a result, sales volumes increased during 2023, improving its overall performance against 2022.  

The concern for the future in this market is maintaining a supply of batten products when demand increases again. Many countries are reducing tree-felling allowances to help replenish supplies due to the recent volumes that have been used. 

Sawmills have also closed due to pressures over the past few years and, with the Ukraine war and economic issues with Russia and Belarus, there could be challenging times ahead.

Developing the business

SR Timber’s treatment plant.

For several years, a primary focus for the business has been developing its team. In 2021 Andy Sawers joined the management team, bringing with him a wealth of experience in working in timber within the merchant environment. Only last year, SR Timber increased its staff count by 25%. In such a specialist area, it is important that training is continual for the team so that they can knowledgeably continue to support their customers. 

SR Timber trades independently to its parent business, SIG Roofing, which the company became part of in 2012. But it also continues to benefit hugely from their operational expertise and financial support, which is key in an industry where materials are purchased months in advance and the customer base requires credit. 

The company also benefits from corporate initiatives such as HR, training and compliance, which in turn brings advantages to the customer base.

At the sawmill and production plants, large investments continue to be made, adding further kilning facilities which dry the raw material timber, installing a further automated batten production line and further expanding their log sawmill. All this secures and allows the business to increase volume, giving customers greater confidence, peace of mind and security of supply, all while maintaining a quality product.

Moving to a larger port

The business has also recently moved its import terminal dock 50 miles up the Humber Estuary from Goole to Immingham as part of an investment into a much larger facility. 

The Port of Immingham, also known as Immingham Dock, is a major port on the east coast of England, just north of Grimsby, and is the UK’s largest port by tonnage, handling a wide range of cargoes. Moving to a larger terminal means SR Timber can stock more material and ship bigger volumes on newer and larger vessels, which use less fuel and require fewer sailings, helping to reduce its carbon footprint.

Like most businesses, the drive to be more environmentally friendly is important. Timber may be the leading sustainable product used in construction, but it’s still important that the right sustainability audit controls are in place. These audits are also carried out by third-party organisations like TDUK, BM Trada and the Responsible Purchasing Policy Scheme. 

Packaging waste has been reduced to a bare minimum while still ensuring the product is protected sufficiently for transportation and for customers to unload and store at their premises and on-site safely. All SR Timber’s company vehicles are either hybrid or electric. 

While SR Timber now offers a broader product range, it continues to focus on and develop its trademarked Premium Gold graded roofing batten. 

Inferior, dangerous and incorrectly graded roofing batten within the UK market remains a challenge, but SR Timber works closely with all relevant trade associations and professional organisations to raise awareness as to the dangers and risks to individuals installing, and to businesses selling, these inferior products.