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WhatWood Interview Tapani Kiiski, President and CEO of Raute Corporation: "The Russian market has been among the most important ones for Raute over the past 10 years"

Tapani Kiiski, President and CEO of Raute Corporation: “The Russian market has been among the most important ones for Raute over the past 10 years”

1 November 2021 ` 19:53  

Raute (Finland) is the world’s leading maker of plywood, veneer and LVL producing equipment. Most Russian plywood mills are equipped with Raute machines, and in H1 2021, Russia accounted for more than a half of the company’s sales. WhatWood talked to Tapani Kiiski, President and CEO of Raute Corporation, to find out how the company survived the coronacrisis and what major orders are made from Russia, talk about the most modern and the oldest equipment at Russian plants, innovations and much more.

Mister Kiiski, thank you for being with us today to answer our questions. Since we all have been living in hard and unusual times lately, I’d like to ask how big of an impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on your company?

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our clients real hard. At some point they had to decrease production output and even consider putting their production on hold due to uncertainty. Due to the market situation all investment projects were halted.

At some point the situation, especially in North America, and partly also in Europe has changed. People who have been laid off or fired have begun building homes, doing renovations, and buying furniture having been subsidized by the state. Which, of course, increased the demand for plywood. The situation in Russia was far better – everything stayed at a more or less stable level.

From the operational point of view Raute did quite well, we didn’t have to halt our production in Finland, or in North America or in China either.

Have you faced anything special in these one and half year after Corona hit the world?

We were actively hiring staff in Russia, avoiding having to travel, so the people could stay home and work from there being able to travel if need be.

We also started using digital technologies – meeting via Teams without having to visit places.

Raute’s sales have been on decline for the last 2 years: -16.4% in 2019 and -24% in 2020. Decline in 2020 may well be explained by the pandemic, but what caused the decline in 2019? Is there an estimate for 2021?

We consider 2019 as more or less stable – since we had a wide order book and projects. Also, let’s note that 2018 was a record year and thus decline in the following year was expected. In 2020 there was indeed a decline in sales due to the pandemic.

For 2021 we have quite a big order book both in terms of sales and income. So, we expect quite good growth figures by the end of the year.

Read more in Russian Timber Journal 09-2021.

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