CANADIAN wood-based panel products firm Norbord has confirmed it is to invest £95 million in its oriented strand board (OSB) plant near Inverness.
The company said the expansion plans will nearly double its production capacity, enabling it to meet growing demand and secure the long-term future of its staff.
The mill was built in the early 1980s and became the first in Europe to manufacture OSB, an engineered wood-based structural panel used in the construction sector.
The expansion plans are being boosted by a grant of up to £11.5 million from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Karl Morris, managing director, Norbord Europe and a Senior Vice President of the company, said, “Demand for OSB is increasing rapidly and this investment will ensure we can continue to meet customers’ needs and remain at the forefront of the European industry.
“Our SterlingOSB product manufactured in Inverness is the UK’s leading OSB brand, and with direct road, rail and port access the reinvested mill will be in an even better position to efficiently serve our customers across the UK and in continental Europe.
“This investment underscores Norbord’s long-term commitment to Inverness and the Highlands region, and we look forward to continuing to play an important role in the community.”
Norbord expects the expanded mill to come online in the second half of 2017, with no disruption to production in the meantime.
Peter Wijnbergen, Norbord’s President and CEO added, “This strategic investment reflects the importance and growth potential of our European operations, and will make our already strong European business an even more meaningful part of Norbord’s financial results.”
Alex Paterson, chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said, “We have been working very closely with Norbord on their development plans and are delighted to be supporting the company to invest so substantially in its Highland base.
“This development will put Norbord’s Inverness plant on a sustainable footing for decades to come, and is a huge vote of confidence in the company’s Scottish workforce.
“It’s worth noting that the positive impact of today’s announcement will be felt well beyond Inverness and the Inner Moray Firth.
“Norbord is not only a significant local employer in its own right, it also plays an important strategic role in the region’s forestry sector and is a major user of haulage companies and port infrastructure.”