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Fletcher Challenge Forests Wins TNZ Export Award

Monday 24 February 2003

Fletcher Challenge Forests Wins Trade New Zealand Export Award

Embargoed to 1PM, Monday February 24, 2003 -- Fletcher Challenge Forests has won a Trade New Zealand Export Award for its successful North American operation, which includes the marketing and supply of added value wood products to major hardware and home improvement stores.

Fletcher Challenge Forests Chief Executive Terry McFadgen says the North American business is a strong performer for Fletcher Challenge Forests, with earnings rising to $17 million in the company’s recent half-year result.

[Note to editors: Media are invited to attend the presentation of the Trade New Zealand Export Award to Fletcher Challenge Forests by Trade New Zealand Acting Chief Executive Rod MacKenzie, at 1pm, Monday 24 February, at the company’s premises, 8 Rockridge Avenue, Penrose, Auckland. This Export Award has been awarded in the Building, Wood and Interiors category.]

Mr McFadgen says the market-driven vertical integration strategy that Fletcher Challenge Forests has applied in the US has been an important factor in its success in the market.

“We’ve added value at several points of the integrated supply chain through a combination of environmentally certified product, strong ‘in market’ presence and a very effective ‘door to door’ delivery capability.

“We’ve also entered into joint ventures with two leading US distributors which has opened direct access for our products into the two largest US home improvement retailers - the Home Depot and Lowes.”

Mr McFadgen says the company’s US strategy focuses on the production of a range of high value finished goods from its outstanding pruned resource, with a strong emphasis on direct customer relationships and a vigorous quality assurance programme.

He says the environmental certification status of the company’s forests is helping differentiate its products from competitors, giving access to high value retail markets.

“Our success in North America is also the result of world-class productivity, quality and operational standards at our Taupo sawmill and moulding plants.

“The Trade New Zealand Export Award is an important recognition of our successful export strategy and performance and a tribute to all staff involved, from forest and mill to the in market team in the United States.”

Trade New Zealand Account Manager Jane Liu congratulated Fletcher Challenge Forests on its Export Award. Ms Liu says the company’s strategy of vertical integration has enabled it to get close to the ultimate users of its products, the customers of the big American hardware chains.

“A greater product and customer focus has enabled Fletcher Challenge Forests to create increased value in this market, beyond traditional lumber returns.”

Terry McFadgen says the company’s US experience demonstrates what can be achieved, in a tough but vital market, through adding value and marketing expertise to New Zealand resources.

“The lessons for this market are very clear: quality service relationships, attractive product and above all staying close to the evolving customer,” Mr McFadgen says.

Fletcher Challenge Forests is currently expanding its Taupo Mill to meet the demand for its clear wood products in the US market.

About the Trade New Zealand Export Awards:
The Trade New Zealand Export Awards, sponsored by DHL Worldwide Express, recognise outstanding achievement and growth by New Zealand exporters in international markets. Winners become contenders for the Exporter of the Year in their sector category, and category winners (with the exception of the Emerging Exporter Category) then vie for the Supreme Exporter of the Year Award, announced at an annual dinner on 12 June 2003 in Christchurch.

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