For the first quarter of 2018, the Austrian furniture industry reports production growth of 5.9% (excluding furniture parts), according to preliminary figures. The strongest growth was seen in store furniture with a plus of 29%, followed by office furniture (+ 8.1%) and kitchen furniture (+ 7.2%). The range of wooden bedroom, dining and living room furniture (+ 2.9%) also increased, as well as seating furniture (+ 2.8%), mattresses (+ 2.4%) and other furniture (+ 1.6%).
In light of the difficult market in 2017, the industry had a good start to the new year, Georg Emprechtinger, Chairman of the Association of the Austrian Furniture Industry said. In 2017, the Austrian furniture industry closed with a wafer-thin increase of 0.1%.
Exports continue to increase
The export figures of the Austrian furniture industry also increased at the beginning of the year. After a plus of 2.4% in 2017, manufacturers recorded an increase of 6.2% in the first quarter of 2018. This corresponds to preliminary figures of 241.6 million euros (excluding parts for furniture). At 6.6%, exports to the EU increased the most, to 174.6 million euros. The most important trading partner is Germany with growth of 3.5% to EUR 103.9 million.
An outstanding development was recorded in Italy. After an already successful year 2017 with a growth of 5.5%, furniture exports in the first quarter of 2018 once again increased by 19.7% to 9.8 million euros. This makes Italy the third largest consumer after Germany and Poland. In fourth place is the Czech Republic, which also recorded double-digit growth of 22.1%.
Exports to France (+ 17.0%), Slovakia (+ 14.5%) and Romania (+ 61.4%) also increased. Exports to Spain even increased by 154.5% to 3.4 million euros. Declines in Europe were recorded in Belgium (-5.7%), Great Britain (-3.8%), Slovenia (-3.4%), the Netherlands (-15.8%) and Poland (-1.9%) %).
Outside of Europe, exports of the Austrian furniture industry in the Arab world (UAE: + 45.1%, EUR 1.19 million, Kuwait: EUR 2.65 million) and in the US, where exports increased by 46.3% in 2017 in the first quarter of 2018 rose again by 4.4%. The furniture business declined with Canada (-8.8%) and China (-20.6%).
In the first quarter, seating was the most in demand for exports, with a share of 34.8% (+ 0.5%), followed by home furniture with 28.2% (+ 14.5%). Office furniture (+ 12.2%) also recorded double-digit growth, followed by kitchen furniture (+ 8.5%) and shop furniture (+ 7.4%). Only mattresses / bedsteads declined by -3.2%.
Imports rose slightly
In the first quarter, furniture worth EUR 477.6 million was imported to Austria. That corresponds to an increase of 1.5%. Here, too, Germany tops the list and with EUR 219.4 million (+ 0.9%). Imports from China increased in the first quarter of 2018 by 5.6% to 53.4 million euros, those from Poland by 6.8% to 50.2 million euros. Italy came in fourth with € 30m (-8.4%). Imports from the USA rose sharply by 113.7% to 1.4 million euros.
Analyzed according to product ranges, seating also dominates in imports (36.7%), followed by home furniture (34.0%) and shop furniture (11.7%).