Below are some additional comments by Tom Reardon, executive director of the Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn., in response to questions posed on the state of the contract furniture industry.

Wood & Wood Products:
Overall, how do your members’ sales from the last 12 months compare to the previous 12 months?

Tom Reardon:
Calendar year 2010 is actually finishing up much better than we had initially expected earlier in the year. We expect to finish 2010 with furniture orders up about 12% and shipments up about 5% as compared to 2009.

W&WP: What is your members’ sales forecast for the next 12 months?

Reardon: The most recent industry forecast published at the end of November had 2011 furniture shipments growing about 8% in 2011.

W&WP: What are the biggest challenges to your members and your industry in 2011?

Reardon: The slow rate of hiring and job growth, as well as reduced investment in non-residential construction will continue to damper furniture shipment growth into 2011

W&WP: What are the biggest opportunities for your members and your industry in 2011?

Reardon: Despite the slow economic rate of recovery there are bright spots on the economic horizon. Many companies are flush with cash and in a position to reinvest in capital expenditures that could include furniture. The office vacancy rate is keeping lease rates relatively low and competitive and could prompt business relocations, which in turn could result in furniture orders.

W&WP: What do you think it will take for your members’ companies to have success in 2011?

Reardon: Capitalizing on available opportunities and continuing to manage their companies effectively should allow the industry to realize above average growth (and ideally, profitability) over the next year.

Read full article: Industry Overall Optimistic About 2011

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