With turnover of Euro 22.0 billion, Germany occupies first place in the rankings for furniture production in Europe, as the new market analysis Furniture, Figures, Data reveals. The studies in the latest digest cover the period up to the third quarter of 2018.
They show that long-term structural change is contributing to the success of German furniture producers. The number of furniture manufacturers in Germany has fallen by 31.8% since 1992, while the industry grew by 7.2% over this period.
This means that fewer numbers of larger companies are the reason behind the positive trend. Back in 1960, the German furniture industry used to produce almost exclusively for the domestic market, with foreign turnover amounting to just 2%. Today its export share is increasing continually and stood at 32.3% in 2017.
Kitchen furniture has the highest export share at 38.9%, while the mattress sector has the lowest at 14.5%. The eurozone plays a more important role for furniture manufacturers than the rest of the world, especially for Germany’s strong kitchen furniture industry. Some 74.7% of its exports are to eurozone countries.
Strong growth in upholstery, finishing and furniture parts
Looking at turnover for German furniture production between 2014 and 2017, upholstery (+53.8%), finishing new furniture (+28.8%) and furniture parts (+17.2%) were the segments driving growth.
In terms of increases in the actual quantities of products sold by furniture manufacturers in studies covering the same period, wooden bedroom cabinets (+10.6% / 4,905,000 units) and non-upholstered seating furniture with mainly metal frames (19.9% / 3,127,000 units) performed especially well.
The industry drivers based on unit sales in 2017 were wooden fitted kitchen elements (32,680,000) and wooden bedroom furniture (12,862,000). Metal-framed seating furniture (7,688,000) is more popular than wood-framed alternatives (2,899,000.)
Wooden fitted kitchens and bedroom furniture are the top sellers
Overall, wood performs best in larger items of furniture. In the kitchen sector for instance, more chairs were produced with metal frames than with wood frames – a development that is set to continue beyond 2018. This may be driven by the trend for merging cooking and living zones, with customers then opting to furnish them in a rich variety of different materials.
Significant declines in the German furniture industry can be seen primarily in the production of mattress toppers, which fell by 9.1% to 5,187,000 units, and in slatted bed bases, which were down by 15.6% compared to the previous year at 3,461,000 units. This decline could be linked to the growing market for divan beds.
New materials and plastic furniture on the rise
The decline in small items of wooden furniture has continued since 2017, as the latest studies show. Production trends for the first six months of 2017 and 2018 respectively show a fall in wooden garden furniture (-39.7%), non-upholstered seating furniture with mainly wooden frames (-15.9%) and bedroom furniture made from wood-based materials excluding beds and cabinets (-10.5%).
By contrast, increases can be seen in furniture made from non-wood materials (+28.9%), upholstery for seating furniture (+22.1%) and plastic furniture, which was up by 18.1%. Wooden office furniture production also increased, rising by 12.4%, as did the production of furniture parts excluding the seating furniture sector (+10.2%).
For smaller items of furniture, a general trend is emerging for new materials and plastics as alternatives to wood. Strong market growth can also be observed in furniture upholstery and new and replacement parts for seating furniture.
Negative figures for mattresses and slatted bed bases
The cyclical development of the furniture production index between 2016 and 2018 was examined by sectors based on data from the latest market analysis. The studies reveal growth in kitchen furniture, a sector with a long track record of success.
The trend for cooking together could be one of the factors fuelling this growth, but strong growth in foreign demand is likely to be another driver. Turning to the manufacture of mattresses and slatted bed bases, a marked downward trend can be seen among German furniture manufacturers. This can be attributed to the fierce price war between online and bricks-and-mortar retailers as well as higher production figures for popular divan beds.
Slight decline in turnover for market leader Germany
Germany’s furniture industry may occupy first place in the European rankings, but it has reported negative turnover for the most recent period. After the successful years between 2014 and 2016, turnover fell slightly in 2017 by -0.3% compared to the previous year and again in the period to September 2018 (-0.4%).
While foreign turnover rose by 1.1% in 2017, this was followed by negative growth of -1.6% in 2018. It mustn’t be forgotten that this decline is from a high level. The negative growth may be the result of furniture manufacturers yielding too much to the increasing price pressure due to competition between physical stores and online retailers.
The whole industry would be well advised to fight this trend. The sectors of the furniture industry covered in Furniture, Figures, Data for the commercial year 2018 should be proud of the value and quality of their products.
Click here to read the study.