OSTROW MAZOWIECKIE, POLAND - Polish furniture manufacturing giant Forte Group says turbulence surrounding the Euro in the European Union has worked to its advantage.
As a member of the European Union, Forte trades freely within the common European market, export 80 percent of production to 30 countries.
But because Poland does not yet use the common Euro currency, trading in the Polish currency the zloty, the wood products firm's five factories have a trading advantage. The zloty has dropped in value against the Euro, giving Forte's kitchen cabinetry, case goods and ready-to-assemble furnishings a price advantage.
As a result, sales have grown 15 percent this year, reports the Wall St. Journal. Forte, which employs 2,300, is frequently cited as one of the most advance manufacturers in furniture production. Listed among the 500 largest Polish enterprises, Forte Group was founded in 1992 by Maciej Formanowicz, who bought a state-owned enerprise. It is now publicly traded.
"For us, the critical element has been the depreciation of the zloty against the euro," Formanowicz told the Wall St. Journal. The Polish currency has a 25 percent advantage in trading over the Euro.
Formanowicz notes that Forte's ISO-9000 certified quality production, and a flexible workforce that produces just-in-time production has helped drive sales.
Forte's computer controlled furniture manufacturing - cited in a Eurozone white paper on electronic data interchange at its furniture plants, has helped it reduce labor costs. It consolidated five factories into four. Formanowicz told the WSJ that he has declined to expand in Western Europe owing to the inflexibility of workers and labor rules.
"No one would consider working on Saturday or Sunday," he said of laborers in some European markets. "You can't even raise the subject."
FORTE continuously invests in IT, using an ERP, or enterprise management support system, to link internal and external in communications in sales design, production, inventory, and shipping.
The processes of design, production, sales of products and customer service are continuously improved with total quality management system procedures. Compliance with ISO 9001 is CE certified by TUV.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.