A SPECIALIST forestry business that is 80 per cent owned by its employees has reported an increase in pre-tax profits following another year of growth in the sector.

Scottish Woodlands, which employs 174 staff across the UK, has increased its profitability from £3.26 million in 2017-18 to £3.6m in 2018 and 2019. Annual turnover increased from £92.34m to £115.23m.

Ralland Browne, managing director of the Edinburgh-based company, said the steady increase in profits is down to “continued focus on core operations” within the business in a robust forestry market.

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He said: “These results are for the year ending September 30, 2019 when the world was blissfully unaware of Covid 19 and the myriad of global economic restrictions that we all face today.

“With predominantly outdoors working, the forest industry has followed government safety guidance very closely and strived to keep some operations going to deliver essential goods such as pallet wood to support the transportation of food and medical supplies. Providing timber for the biomass industry has also been vital for hospitals and care homes with biomass heating systems.

“This activity has positioned the sector well to lead a green recovery, based on safe working protocols drawn up by the industry.”

The firm is based at Riccarton and has 17 offices across the UK.

“All of our operational areas, plus our investment division and our utilities division, are performing well, to the benefit of our clients and staff shareholders,” said Mr Browne.

He also said: “Staff development and career progression to ultimately improve our service to our clients and grow the business are key strategic priorities for the business. We have increased the scope of our various training courses for both new graduate and existing staff members.”

The company said it is a strong supporter of the wider forestry sector.