First half year 2021

Office furniture industry on an upward trend

After a challenging 2020 business year, the upward trend in the office furniture industry, which had already become apparent in the fourth quarter of last year, continued in the first half of this year. This is according to a recent report by the Industrieverband Büro und Arbeitswelt e.V. (IBA).

Sep 13 2021

According to the report, the total turnover of manufacturers of office furniture and office chairs increased by 3.3 per cent compared to the previous year. According to the IBA, demand from abroad developed particularly positively. In the export business, turnover increased by 12.3 percent.

Domestic demand also strengthened with a 0.3 percent increase in sales. According to the IBA, the fact that the increase here was not higher is due to the base effect with a strong first quarter of 2020, still largely unaffected by the Corona pandemic. 

Export ratio above pre-pandemic level

The average export ratio climbed from 25.5 per cent in the previous year to 27.5 per cent in the first half of 2021, slightly above the pre-pandemic level (26.4 per cent). In addition to the German-speaking neighbouring countries, trade with non-European customers also contributed to the increase in demand.

During the pandemic, home offices and hybrid working methods became established. This is reflected both in the continuing demand for ergonomic equipment for home office workplaces and in the demand for furnishings for video-conferencing-capable rooms. 

Seating furniture will be particularly in demand in 2021

In addition, soft-seating products in particular, which are used to furnish new communication areas in the office, account for a growing share of demand. For example, seating corners and flexible seating elements are needed for collaboration and joint project work with colleagues. 

Overall, sales of office seating furniture increased by 12.1 percent compared to the previous year. In contrast, demand for tables, cabinets and room-dividing furniture, including hygiene protection walls, was 3.7 percent below the level of the first half of 2020.

Outlook for the second half of the year

Limited material availability and rising raw material prices remain a challenge for the industry. The increased costs have so far only been partially passed on to the trade and end customers. Acute delivery delays have so far been largely avoided by manufacturers' forward-looking procurement policies, but the industry still expects extended lead times.

All in all, the office furniture industry is reasonably satisfied with the first half of 2021, and the IBA member companies also expect a further increase in demand by the end of the year. "We expect a further increase in demand of around five percent by the end of the year," says IBA Managing Director Thomas Jünger. The industry hopes to reach the pre-pandemic level again next year.

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