Final figures published by Acimall Studies Office show a 2010 trend above expectations. According to these figures, the Italian production of woodworking technology increased to 1,542 million Euros, i.e. 25.6 percent more than in 2009. Also export figures are positive (1,067 million Euros, 21.7 percent higher than the previous year) and import as well, amounting to 182 million Euros, as much as 48 percent more than in 2009. Trade balance amounted to 882 million Euros (plus 17.4 percent over 2009) and apparent consumption to 660 million (plus 38.3 percent).
So, the expected “rebound” has actually arrived, although we cannot conceal the hard truth, i.e. that 2010 expansion only partially compensated for the huge losses in 2009: today, Italian production is still at around 75 percent of pre-crisis turnover. This dramatic figure, however, has not brought the disastrous effects we had imagined: only few companies closed down, some were acquired. All in all, the “economic fabric” of Italian woodworking technology companies has resisted, leveraging all available resources and energy.
Another essential factor is the size of the Italian market, which is still one of the key regions for the wood industry. This is confirmed by the fact that the "rebound" was more significant in the domestic market than in export. In other words, Italy is not just one of the leading technology suppliers, but also a demanding and “greedy” consumer. A developed market, with excellent production capacity, offering excellence standards recognized globally. This must be combined with the effects of the decision by many entrepreneurs to leverage the benefits of Tremonti Ter law, anticipating their instrumental goods investments in the first half of the year.
Moving to imports, they were influenced by two factors, as repeatedly stressed by Acimall analysts: on one hand, a higher flow of machines from China (increased by at least 35 percent compared to the previous twelve months), on the other, the attention of Italian companies towards “made in Germany” technology. As already mentioned, woodworking is at home in Italy: advanced operations, taste, design, high quality that requires the use of high-end technology, a market segment where Italian production is inevitably confronted with German technology.
Let’s close with some remarks about export, offering an essential contribution to the industry with a 70 percent share on national production. It is interesting to take a look at the main destination markets and their variations in the past twelve months. Italian companies have been “sowing” in India for a long time and are now reaping the fruits of their hard work, with turnover around 30 million Euros, compared to 8.2 in 2009. This result brings India closer to Turkey (30 million Euros in 2010, 19 in 2009).
Spain (40 million Euro import of equipment from Italy, 16 percent more than in the previous year) is still suffering, while the United States are improving (40 million Euros in 2010, 32 in 2009). Russia has recovered (49 million Euros in 2010 against 34 in 2009) and, in more general terms, we can say that the European Union has resisted well, with France and Germany in the forefront.
FIRST QUARTER 2011
Let’s take a look at the new year. Generally speaking, we can say that the first quarter 2011 confirmed the signals of recovery announced in 2010, though the situation is highly diversified: the companies that have effectively reacted to the crisis, restoring values in line with 2007, are counterbalanced by others that are still suffering both from the domestic market crisis and from lagging recovery on their major destination markets. Most of all, very small companies are in trouble, as they lack the necessary resources to address the most dynamic markets (Asia and South America).
According to the quarterly survey by the Studies Office of Acimall - based on a statistic sample of the entire industry - woodworking technology orders increased by 20.4 percent compared to the same period in 2010 (plus 24.9 abroad and plus 6.3 in Italy). The book of orders is stable around two months, while prices have been slightly increasing since the beginning of the year.
The quality survey indicates potential trends in the near future: according to 44 percent of the sample, the production trend will be positive, while 40 percent expects substantial stability and 16 percent fears shrinkage. Employment is considered to be stationary by 64 percent of the sample, falling by 28 percent and increasing by the remaining 8 percent. Available stocks are stationary according to 72 percent, decreasing according to 16 percent and growing according to 12 percent. Foreign markets will be more interested in Italian technology (44 percent of interviewed companies predict expansion, 48 percent stability and 8 percent reduction, with a positive balance of plus 36), while pessimism is the predominant mood for business with Italian customers, expected to drop by 20 percent of the sample, to remain stable by 76 percent and to increase by 4 percent (negative balance of minus 16).
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