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THE UK OFFICE FURNITURE MARKET 2002
October 29, 2002
New Report available from AKTRIN on:UK OFFICE FURNITURE MARKET, 2002
The AKTRIN Furniture Information Center in collaboration with AMA Research of the United Kingdom have published a new study of the 'UK Office Furniture Market'. The report incorporates original research and is a comprehensive and up-to-date review of this industry. It assesses current market conditions and presents forecasts through to 2006. The market is finely segregated by product categories, including deskinf, seating, storage, and other products.
In 2001, the UK Office Furniture market was worth over ?00 million. Following strong growth in the mid to late 90's, 1999 was the first year of decline. The strength of Sterling, the Asian crisis and higher interest rates had a negative impact on business confidence. The drop in the office furniture market was briefly interrupted in 2000. However, 2001 was again a bad year. Fears of global slowdown, compounded by the terrorist attacks on September 11th in the US, resulted in the postponements of major capital expenditure and particularly furniture purchases. The market is also fiercely competitive, especially in the mid-price-range with suppliers discounting to gain business.
Future prospects are more optimistic for the office furniture sector with improving business confidence and some element of a backlog of demand. The impact of technology and new mobile working practices have a positive effect on the market. A buoyant SOHO sector and the growth in call-centres create opportunities for niche marketing. Development of these and other trends have facilitated the growth of mobile working ('hot-desking' 'hotelling' and 'teleworking'), relaxed constraints on desk size and shape and supported the growth of call centres.
Office furniture imports are currently valued at ?32 million and exports at almost ?50 million. Imports continue to grow at a health rate. Key importing countries include the Irish Republic and Germany. On the other hand, exports performed poorly in 2001 reflecting the strength of Sterling and the increased foreign competition.
Desking constitutes the largest office furniture segment, followed by seating. The adjustability and ergonomic issues that are an integral part of office seating are key motivating factors for continued growth. In the storage sector the trend has been towards more aesthetically pleasing wood finishes. This has stimulated value growth rather than volume. Slightly less than one-third of storage products are of wood, the rest is of metal. There is a continuing demand for screen systems in open plan offices. Computer trolleys are declining in both popularity and market share.
The office furniture market remains fiercely competitive, particularly due to the large number of suppliers. There has been some consolidation, acquisition and divestment activity.
Herman Miller is the market leader, followed by Steelcase and Bullough. In 2001, the top six accounted for a 40% market share. Of the top six, three companies are UK based - Bullough, Bisley and Senator International with Steelcase and Herman Miller being American and EFG Matthews Swedish.
The two main distribution channels for office furniture are via a dealer network or direct to end-users. Other channels such as superstores, mail order and the Internet are expected to gain share, driven by the SOHO sector. In recent years dealers have lost some share to the direct channel and niche sectors of mail order and superstores, although they will remain the primary sales channel.
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AKTRIN is a report writing and international consulting firm fully dedicated to the furniture industry. The company has been in existence since 1985 and maintains offices in the United States and Canada. Representatives and affiliates are located throughout the world.
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AKTRIN Furniture Information Center
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