Assago, Italy - 2011 confirmed to be a “wait-and-see” year for the industry of woodworking and furniture technology. According to the preliminary figures processed by the Studies Office of Acimall (the Confindustria member association representing industry companies), published a few days ago, indicate a production increase by 5.8 percent compared to 2010, with an estimated value of 1,632 million Euros approximately. This result might have been much more positive if the second half of the year had maintained the same trend as the first semester, which was more satisfactory.
Unfortunately, things went differently, as shown by the figures of the trend survey carried out in the fourth quarter 2011: uncertainty increased and orders remained largely below expectations, 8.8 percent lower than in the same period of 2010. Foreign orders suffered from 6.4 percent shrinkage, while the domestic market recorded a reduction by as much as 16.9 percent. The orders book approximately covers a period of two months. Since the beginning of this year, a 1.7 percent price increase has been recorded.
According to the quality survey, 26 percent of the interviewed companies indicate a positive production trend, 52 percent stable and 22 percent decreasing. Employment is considered stationary by 78 percent of the sample, falling by 18 percent and growing by the remaining 4 percent. Available stocks are stable according to 44 percent of the interviewees, decreasing for 39 percent and increasing for 17 percent.
Let’s take a look at short-term expectations unveiled by the forecast survey. Unfortunately, uncertainty is still the predominant mood: 17 percent of the sample is confident that orders from abroad will increase in the next few months, while 48 percent predict substantial stability. With 35 percent fearing shrinkage, the balance is negative by 18 points. The Italian market is expected to have a shrinking trend according to 52 percent of the interviewees, while it will remain stable for 48 percent; this results into a 52-point negative balance.
A few additional notes: unfortunately, orders from Italian customers have reached their lowest level since 2010, while the trend of foreign orders is better. This seems just obvious for an industry that is strongly focused on export, shipping more than 75 percent of production across the national borders.
If production volume amounted to 100 in 2001, today the index is 69, a situation that is forcing the industry to a radical reorganization.
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