Based on analysis of this year's reporting of the FDM 300, all market segments are showing reasonable recovery by increasing sales in 2005. The big surprise is the 51 companies in the office segment, whose combined sales were up 10 percent, or $1.3 billion, to $13 billion. By contrast, the office segment was flat in 2004 after recovering from a 7 percent drop in sales between 2002 and 2003.

For our annual analysis, we compare year-to-year sales of the companies that were listed in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of the FDM 300. This year those 280 companies reported $53.5 billion in sales for 2005, up 7 percent from $49.8 billion for 2004. We further break down those 280 companies by market segment to see the health of various markets.

Surprising result

That's where the surprise came in, with office furniture manufacturers leading the percentage growth among the major market segments. That growth was fueled by double-digit growth among the giants of the industry, Steelcase, Herman Miller, HNI, Haworth and Knoll.

One note: Haworth had raised the sales number it reported to us in January to $1.4 billion. That higher number is included in these calculations.

Cabinets still strong

The cabinet segment, which has shown steady growth year after year, didn't falter. The 65 reporting companies in this segment showed 7 percent growth, with combined 2005 sales of $11.4 billion. The cabinet industry had led the growth in the FDM 300 the last two years, showing 16 percent growth in 2004 sales and 14 percent growth in 2003 sales.

Our third, and largest, major segment of the FDM 300 is residential furniture. The 80 companies reporting showed 5 percent growth, with combined sales of $17.4 billion. This compares to a 5 percent increase in sales for 2004 and a 2 percent increase in 2003.

Millwork, which we define as both architectural millwork and windows and doors, had 34 companies reporting, showing 5 percent growth to $6.2 billion in 2005. This compares to 9 percent growth for that category in 2004.

We break out 14 RTA furniture manufacturers, and that group showed a 1 percent uptick in combined sales at $3.2 billion. That follows a 3 percent rise for this group in 2004 following a 11 percent drop in combined sales in 2003.

Our smallest and most volatile group that we track is store fixture manufacturers. The 35 companies in this segment showed a combined 9 percent growth in 2005 to $2.1 billion in combined sales. That follows an 11 percent drop in 2004 and an 8 percent gain in 2003.

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