The Austrian Furniture Industry: More production & Less Exports in 2013

In the third quarter of 2013, the Austrian Furniture Industry enjoyed an increase in production by 2.5 % compared with the same quarter last year. However, the overall growth in production in the first three quarters of 2013 stood at only 0.6 % (EUR 1.38 billion). “After a decline in the first quarter, furniture manufacturers were able to make a slight improvement in the second. This trend then grew stronger again. Despite the generally mediocre situation, we could end the year on a slight plus,” explains Dr Georg Emprechtinger, Chairman of the Austrian Furniture Industry.

The positive overall growth in the first three quarters is above all down to the key home furnishing sector (+7 % to EUR 610.8 million) and the manufacturers of mattresses/bed frames (+10.7 % to EUR 81.7 million). The other sectors all suffered losses, although to varying degrees: whilst office furniture (-0.4 % to EUR 199.2 million) and kitchens (-1.2 % to EUR 192.2 million) got off comparatively lightly, seating furniture (and parts thereof) suffered a significant setback compared to the previous year, with a decrease of 15.7 % to EUR 156.6 million. The shop furniture sector also failed to record a positive result, with a decrease of 5.4 % to EUR 138.1 million. “Up until the middle of the year, only office furniture and kitchens were being affected by the decline, then after the third quarter it was affecting nearly all sectors with the exception of home furnishings and mattress manufacturers. This development shows that the Euro crisis persisted in 2013 and many manufacturers had to face another tough year,” states Emprechtinger.

On the other hand, exports (1st to 3rd quarters of 2013) sank compared to the previous year by 7.9 % (approximately EUR 50 million), down to EUR 593.5 million. This indicated a further increase in the downward trend. The fall in exports to EU states continued to disappoint, with exports down by 10.3 %. Negative rates reaching double figures were recorded in the seating furniture sector (and parts thereof) with -15.8 %, and in the office furniture sector (-10.3 %). Kitchens (-6.3 %) and home furnishings (-2.5 %) also suffered losses. On the winning side we find mattresses/bed frames, which saw continued growth of 8 %, and shop furniture with a 0.7 % increase in exports compared to the previous year.

In terms of exports, the German market (which is key for Austria) once again proved particularly problematic in the first half of the year, down by 11.1 % (almost EUR 32 million) to around EUR 251.5 million. Seating furniture (-24.4 % or EUR 84.1 million) and kitchens (-13.8 % or EUR 12 million) were particularly affected by the decline. Up on the same period last year, foreign business in Switzerland continued to see positive growth of 5.2 % (more than EUR 5 million) up to approximately EUR 103.4 million. Kitchens (-7.2 %) and office furniture (-5.4 %) lost out on the Swiss market, while mattresses/bed frames and home furnishings saw convincing growth rates of 13.4 % and 12 % respectively. There was a further deterioration in exports to Poland, with exports falling by more than a fifth (-21.3 %). In this area, there was also a decline of 21.9 % in the seating furniture sector, which represents nearly 93 % of all exports to Poland, to the value of approximately EUR 30.6 million. Hungary imported Austrian furniture to the value of around EUR 23.9 million (+41.5 %), pushing Italy back down to number 5 on the list of Austria’s major trading partners (+0.7 % to approx. EUR 22.5 million).


2014 Looks Promising


As the latest economic forecasts for our core markets in 2014 are generally looking very good, the continuing positive climate of consumption should be taken advantage of, in order to awaken more enthusiasm in end customers about the values and outstanding features of high-quality furniture solutions.” says Emprechtinger.


The Austrian Furniture Industry, which is part of the Association of the Austrian Wood Industries, will continue to focus on quality, offering the commercial sector a wide product range for different target groups, featuring innovative designs and functional products. As ‘made in Austria’ acts as a reliable seal of quality for many consumers, the EU-wide declaration of origin, which has been advocated by the European furniture industry will help strengthen the competitiveness of our trading partners.