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Wood Market News From Europe

French Imports of Hardwood Down

Up to mid-year French imports of sawn hardwoods were lower than one year ago. According to available statistics French imports of sawn hardwood fell by about 24% to 285,092 cubic metres (373,245 for the same period 2001). Imports of tropical sawn timber fell by 22% to 167,903 cubic metres (216,933), caused by lower shipments from Brazil (-25%), Cameroon (-23.8%), Ivory Coast (-13%), and Ghana

However a rise in French imports of tropical sawnwood was reported by the Republic of Congo (+45%) and to Gabon (+88%).

A steep decline in imports of European sawn hardwoods was reported. Imports of sawn oak dropped by almost 30% to 28,707 cubic metres (40,261). Also, imports of sawn poplar and the other European hardwood species have taken a nose dive in the first half of the year.

Falling demand for window grades in Germany

Against the background of falling sales for wooden windows the producers of window scantlings are facing huge problems with business in Germany. Slow sawnwood demand on part of window manufacturers is resulting in severe downward pressure on prices for standard dimensions in the German market.

EUWID is reporting that stocks of most window scantling dimensions are available throughout the German market. Prices for meranti scantlings, having rose steadily during the first half of the year but have weakened again recently because stocks have grown. For finger-jointed pine scantlings, seasonal bottlenecks in supply from Eastern Europe has resulted in a slight reduction of stock levels.

Most window producers, given the state of the German market, are concentrated on sales to other European countries where prospects appear more promising notably Northern and Eastern Europe as well as in some South European countries. Here rising sales are reported along with some better prices than on the German market.

SE Asian Plywood in Germany

The continuing FOB price increases for Asian plywood, has caused buyers to seek alternatives and has led to an improvement in sales of certain birch plywood products. Demand for film-faced birch plywood products has reportedly increased and these products are competing strongly with Indonesian film-faced plywood. Analysts at EUWID say that if price levels SE Asian plywood products persist than there will be more buyers shifting to birch plywood. Analysts in Germany say the sharp price increases demanded by Indonesian plywood producers for raw plywood has not yet had any impact on prices in the market place.

Insolvent Voko

Insolvent German office furniture producer Voko of Garbenteich will lay off the remaining 70 staff with effect from 30 November 2002. Voko has a debt of more than EUR 75mn (US$ 73.6mn). Analysts say the firm has no hope of finding an investor. The attempt to continue operations via a new Voko Office-Line GmbH failed. The 140 staff of Voko Office-Line will also be laid off with effect from 30 November 2002.

Furniture slump

In Denmark, around one furniture factory a month closes down as a result of the downturn in the Danish deal furniture business. Keld Korsager, MD of the Association of the Danish Furniture Industry, says a wave of mergers in the business is expected but only after further streamlining in the business.

The deal furniture business is suffering from a major surplus capacity and sales in the export markets are poor. This applies particularly to the German market where sales have dropped by 15-17% compared with the previous year.

The number of deal furniture producers in Denmark was 88% in 2000. Keld Korsager says he believes that 90% of the sales of deal furniture in Denmark will be divided between 8-10 players in future.

Jelmoli increased profit

Despite a decline in turnover, the warehouse and furniture concern Jelmoli managed to increase its profit by more than one fifth during the first six months of 2002. In comparison to the previous year's first semester, profit went up by 23% to SFr 51.5mn (US$ 34.33mn) but turnover went down by 4.5%. A profit of around SFr 100mn (US$ 66.67mn) is forecast for the whole year.

Fritz Hansen to cut costs

Fritz Hansen, the Danish design furniture producer, has decided to cut costs in 2003 following a tough fiscal 2001-02 with stagnant sales and a dramatic drop in earnings. The company aims to cut costs next year by 10% i.e. between DKr 15mil. (US$ 1.86mil.) and DKr 20mil.. At the same time it will axe eight jobs whereas another eight will go as a result of attrition. Md Jacob Holm says the company does not expect the market for luxury design furniture to grow over the next twelve months due to the global recession.

Romanian Furniture

Romania's production of furniture in the first half of 2002 reached L 13,080.4bil. (US$ 393.75mil.), 8.4% up on a year earlier, according to the Industry and Resources Ministry, with exports in the period increasing by 15.8% to US$ 296.1mil.
The domestic market, however, is still not performing well, with domestic sales said to have fallen by more than 35% in dollar terms to US$ 146.16mil.

Furniture producers report losses

In the first half of 2002 the Slovak furniture producers faced worsened economic results down by 144% against year 2001 as they reported the losses of Sk 103mil. (US$ 2.34mil.). Their revenues, however, increased by 27.12% to Sk 8.963bil., while expenses amounted to Sk 9.768bil.. The volume of added value totaled Sk 1.588bil., up by 9.9% against 2001.

New kitchen furniture plant

Soler Campo of Spain has invested EUR 0.57mil. in a new kitchen furniture plant in Zaragoza, with the new unit to manufacture 1,125 kitchens per year. Soler Campo is looking to enter export markets from 2004.

Habitat new outlet in Lisbon

The home furniture retailer, Habitat, has opened a new outlet in Lisbon hoping that this new site can boost the company's revenues by 27%. It is understood that following a similar outlet opening in Oporto in 2001 the company increased sales by 48% compared to the previous year to EUR 22mn (US$ 21.67mil.) while for 2002 the company forecasts a turnover of EUR 28mil. (US$ 27.58mil.).

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