Urgent appeal

Furniture industry demands clear EU guidelines

EFIC, EBIA, FENA and FEMB, the furniture sector's interest groups, have made an urgent appeal to the EU – they are calling for a clear strategy.

May 06 2021

The "inconsistent measures" would lead to uncertainty and difficulties. In their open letter, the stakeholders of the furniture sector also urge a commitment to an open internal market, faster vaccinations and clear rules for the organisation of trade fairs.  

The appeal comes from the interest groups EFIC, EBIA, FENA and FEMB*. The Corona crisis is not the only reason why the industry is under pressure: it also faces rising raw material prices, a shortage of urgently needed materials and problems in logistics. 

In an open letter, the furniture industry addresses the EU institutions.  Picture: unattributed

Clear guidelines wanted 

"We hope that the decision-makers will take the concerns from the business community seriously and make their approach more purposeful and uniform," says Roman Eberharter, who is involved in this initiative as president of FENA. In his view, involving the business community in the design of measures is indispensable. "Such a crisis can only be solved together." The Managing Director of the Tyrolean company Betten Eberharter has been President of FENA since last autumn - this Brussels-based organisation represents the interests of around 100,000 furniture retailers. 

In principle, he sees good chances that the industry will quickly come out of the crisis. "In principle, the industry can very quickly return to pre-crisis times and I assume that the overall economic situation within the EU will also improve significantly again in the coming year". 

Sector with a big impact 

The furniture sector is of great importance for the EU: with an annual turnover of about 96 billion euros, about 120,000 companies and a total of about one million employees, this sector is one of the cornerstones of the European economy. The previous year, however, brought cuts, with furniture production in the EU falling by 7.4 per cent; the furniture trade also had to accept declines, some of which were severe. The furniture industry is also characterised by the complex interlocking of the various players:  

Production, suppliers, logistics and trade are dependent on planning and need certainty for the coming months. If, on the other hand, there are no clear guidelines, the comeback of the furniture industry can be severely delayed. Added to this is the difficult situation with raw materials: Raw material prices have risen sharply in many cases, and there are also serious problems with the availability of raw materials such as wood, spring cores and chipboard. This adds to the uncertainty. 

The furniture industry with its 120,000 companies is one of the turbos of the EU economy. © Unsplash

Positive about the future 

Roman Eberharter is nevertheless optimistic about the future of the furniture sector: "The demand is there, and a positive trend can also be observed in the contract sector." However, the prerequisites include the introduction of the envisaged "green passport", an increase in the vaccination rate and more testing possibilities within the EU.

"This will make it easier for the economy to ramp up again, and then the raw material situation will also level off," Eberharter says. The stakeholders' open letter also addresses the EU's Green Deal aspirations and the transition to a circular economy: In order to achieve these goals, a rapid recovery is necessary, he says.  

FENA: European Federation of Furniture Retailers and Interior Designers 

EFIC: European Furniture Industries Confederation 

EBIA: European Bedding Industries Association  

FEMB: European Federation of Office Furniture

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