ASSAGO, ITALY -- The wood and wood-based products industry recorded substantial stability in the third quarter of this year.
Italian companies are facing three critical elements: a very uncertain economic scenario, low propensity to investments by Italian “customers”, and tough competition on the global markets by manufacturers from other countries. This adds to the credit crunch, which has an impact on research and innovation: being unable to invest is penalizing, especially if you think that highly specialized manufacturing systems and maximum process flexibility are key success factors on many markets.
But let’s go back to recent past, to the quarterly survey concerning July to September 2011, based on a statistic sample representing the entire industry, with figures that – as mentioned – give a different picture than in the past few weeks. Woodworking machinery and tools orders have increased by 5.8 percent compared to July-September 2010. Orders from abroad went up by 13.2 percent, while the Italian market suffered from 3.2 percent shrinkage. Also turnover is recovering (more than 2.9 percent compared to July-September of last year). The orders book was constantly around two months, while at the beginning of the year, a 2 percent price increase had been recorded.
“Stability” is the keyword emerging from the quality survey: 12 percent of interviewed companies expressed a positive opinion about the July-September 2011 period. An opposite vision was given by 26 percent, while 62 percent of the sample declared that production levels were stable. Employment is also stationary (according to 85 percent of the sample) and falling for the remaining 15 percent. Available stocks are also stable (62 percent of interviewed people), while 30 percent indicated reduction and 8 percent growth.
The forecast survey showed some short-term trends: while there is some optimism about foreign markets, there are very few signals of positive developments in Italy. This is a situation confirmed by current market trends.
Looking at the 2001-2011 period, you can notice specific trends in the industry, showing scarce “enthusiasm” among Italian users of woodworking technology, with a very slow trend of demand from 2008 until today. More generally, we can say that levels achieved in 2007 cannot be considered a realistic target in the medium term: we are clearly in a phase of industry reorganization and resizing, in line with current demand levels. The season-adjusted index by working days, a significant parameter to evalutate industry expansion and recession trends, is currently equal to 78 (compared to 2001=100).
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