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Our History


Since the first James Latham began importing hardwoods into Liverpool in 1757, the company has, under the continuing management and direction of the Latham family (our current Chairman is 8th generation)  evolved into a leading importer and distributor of wood-based sheet materials (‘panel products’), joinery quality softwoods and hardwoods. The company has a nationwide, strategically placed distribution base, able to bring an ever-expanding range of products and services to our trade customers.

James Latham was registered as a limited company in 1900 and became a public company in 1965. In 1911 Edward Locks Latham purchased an eighteen acre site in Clapton which served the entire South East.  Expansion continued throughout the 1970s with Lathams opening further sites, including a return to the North of England at Ossett in Yorkshire where Advanced Technical Panels was established in 1985.

As the company entered the new millennium, our headquarters moved from Clapton in London to Hemel Hempstead. New depots were created in Thurrock and Purfleet and in 2004 the old East London site at Clapton was sold. This restructuring helped to shape James Latham into what it is today. 

In 2001 the company was the first signatory to the Timber Trade Federation’s (TTF) Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) and all depots became  verified under established sustainable and responsible forest management certification schemes.

James Latham continued to grow and develop in new and exciting directions. Having invested £14m in two state-of-the-art depots in Yate and Leicester, a number of depots introduced extended operational house to provide enhanced service to our customers. At the start of 2019, the business made its first acquisition outside the UK, investing in two companies in Dublin and Belfast.  In addition, we also acquired Dresser Mouldings, who became the specialist mouldings and cladding centre for the Latham Group.

With a history reaching back over 267 years, Lathams have always been innovators. We consistently push the boundaries of materials selection, from our origins in timber products, panels and doors, through to the modern day, where we sit as one of the sectors’ most recognised suppliers of cutting edge materials technologies.

Within 2021 we launched an innovative digital showroom that allows customers to explore products in high resolution 3D, then order samples from a purpose-built Central Sampling Service, based at our Leicester depot. 

With our history in environmentally-led initiatives, in 2022 we introduced a ‘Carbon Calculator’ that gives customers clear and concise information about the environmental impact of products - proving the company is as forward-thinking today as it was nearly three centuries ago.

Please click here to download a copy of the James Latham History Roll

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