LOS ANGELES - U.S. office furniture manufacturing, weakened over the past five years by recession and changing workstyles, is now poised for sustained growth. Business improvement and increased hiring will result in a 3.6% revenue rise,  to $20.6 billion in 2012, says a study by IBISWorldwide.

Since 2007, import penetration from China, which produces furniture at a much lower cost, hurt U.S. industry revenues, which declined at an average annual rate of 6.5% since 200. 

Volatility in raw materials also hurt office furniture manufacturers, with steel and wood prices increasing.  “These price fluctuations have made it difficult for manufacturers to anticipate future spending and control costs,” says IBISWorld industry analyst Sean Windle.

Office Furniture Sales To Hit $20.6 billion in 2012The Office Furniture Manufacturing industry has low market share concentration, with the four largest players (Herman Miller, HNI, Knoll, Steelcase) accounting for about one-fourth of total industry revenue in 2012. The remainder of the market is captured by a large number of small and privately owned businesses that successfully supply the local community's retail demand. In 2012, over 70% of office furniture makers will employ fewer than 20 workers, while just over 6.0% will employ more than 100 workers.

Profit margins decreased from 3.2% of revenue in 2007 to 3.0% in 2012, says IBISWorld, forcing merger and closures.

During the five years to 2012, the number of industry manufacturers decreased at an average annual rate of 1.1%. to total 3,697 businesses, employing 115,000 producing a wide range of office furniture, including bookcases, cabinets, chairs, desks and filing cabinets. The segment also manufactures office and store fixtures, such as cafeteria countertops (except kitchen and bathroom), furniture parts and partitions, with orders predesigned or customized, and sold assembled or unassembled.

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