Office furniture industry

Great demand for the office of the future

After a difficult 2020 business year, office furniture manufacturers were able to make up ground this year. In particular, high demand for seating furniture contributed to an improved overall balance. This is the result of current figures from the Industry Association for Office and Working Environment (IBA).

Mar 21 2022

According to this, the total turnover in the office furniture industry was 2.32 billion euros for 2021 - an increase of 5.7 percent compared to the previous year. Domestically, the industry recorded a 3.8 percent increase in turnover compared to the previous year. Abroad, the growth was even more significant - after a minus of 13.7 percent in 2020, sales increased again by 11.1 percent. 

Sales at national and international level grew again 

The average export ratio rose from 25.5 percent in 2020 to 26.8 percent. While the increase at home is based equally on demand in the contract and broad-based business, the significantly stronger growth in foreign demand is mainly driven by large-scale projects. 

Despite the upward trend for the industry as a whole, the number of people employed by office furniture manufacturers based in Germany fell by 2.9 percent to around 13,700 workers over the course of last year. The decline was only partly due to a planned reduction in employment.  

Change in the world of work provides new impetus 

Demographic change and the digitalisation and flexibilisation of the working world, accelerated by the Corona pandemic, will bring a new surge in demand for office furnishers, according to industry experts.  

The expected development in 2021 was first reflected in a significant increase in demand for office seating furniture. While office furniture recorded a plus of 2.9 percent, sales of seating furniture increased by 8.9 percent. Particularly in demand were furnishings for new, flexibly usable rooms for communication and teamwork as well as ergonomic swivel chairs for professionalising work in home offices. 

Rising prices and falling margins 

However, the industry is concerned about the persistently difficult situation on the procurement markets. Prices for primary materials, energy and logistics rose sharply last year and have currently stabilised at a high level. Despite unavoidable price increases on the part of the office furniture industry, this has put considerable pressure on margins in 2021.  

Overall, however, the IBA and its members look to the future with confidence. Under reasonably stable general conditions, the industry could again achieve an increase in turnover of around six percent in 2022 and thus almost reach the level of 2019 again. According to the association, by 2023 at the latest, the restructuring of the working world should be on the agenda on a larger scale and lead to a corresponding surge in demand.

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