ASSAGO, ITALY -- The year 2012 has been characterized by the minus sign for woodworking and wood-based material technology. Preliminary figures processed by the Acimall Studies Office confirm the problems faced by the Italian industry, which in the past five years lost approximately 30 percent of its turnover.

Compared to 2011, production dropped by 9.8 percent, a variation caused by ongoing domestic market shrinkage (minus 15 percent) and a reduction of export (minus 8 percent). No surprise, unfortunately: all key performance indicators were expected to fall, as a "physiological" reaction after the rebound that exhausted its effect in 2011, a year that closed with "interesting" figures.

We also have to add that the market structure has changed, and therefore, we are not facing a temporary trend, but a new situation we must take into account.

“We are paying the fee of the crisis of Italian customers”, said Paolo Zanibon, general manager of Acimall, the Italian association of woodworking machinery manufacturers. “The negative trend that is impacting constructions, furniture and all wood-based items in our country inevitably results into a block of all investments in instrumental goods”.

The reduction of demand is also clearly indicated by import, which decreased by 13.1 percent. So, even German and Chinese technology suppliers are suffering, while in 2011 they had scored much better performance.

Export is still an essential driver. The 8 percent reduction, however significant, must be evaluated within the context of 2011, when made-in-Italy production had recorded a favorable trend. Obviously, it is not easy for Italian business owners to handle markets that are subject to continuous ups and downs.


It is impossible to tell what 2013 is bringing. Early figures suggest possible consolidation of the negative situation, which would generate an industry-specific crisis within the global economic crisis.

“It’s impossible to reverse the trend," said Zanibon, "without effective actions by the government. The instrumental goods industry has always been a pillar of our economy, giving a substantial contribution to our foreign trade balance. This is true not only for woodworking machinery, but also for glass, plastic, footwear, marble...

"For this reason, together with Federmacchine (the federation that gathers instrumental goods manufacturers) we asked to take a number of measures 'at zero cost,' requiring no financial coverage, just the approval of specific regulations and laws.

"We must encourage entrepreneurs to invest in tools that enable them to foster innovation, to stimulate demand, to produce more effectively, economically and sustainably, in terms of environmental impact and resource consumption," said Zanibon.

“We are confident that 2013 can be a year of consolidation”, said the Acimall manager. “The Ligna event in Hannover, the biggest exhibition in our industry, will provide a clearer vision of the trends on the major destination markets for the Italian industry, even if we think we will have to wait until 2014 to talk about 'recovery'."


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