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News 2014

FEP: further contraction in 2013
After a year in which the overall consumption figures of the European parquet Industry contracted by 5.88%, the first forecasts for 2013 seem to follow a similar trend. FEP’s (European Federation of the Parquet Industry) preliminary forecast indicates a further contraction in the order of 5%.

As was witnessed in the past few years, the results show some variation from country to country and even from quarter to quarter, FEP explains. “However, the overall picture does not seem as polarized as it once was. Indeed, countries which were performing rather well and driving the markets upwards also seem to lose momentum.” This first prognosis is subject to variations, in anticipation of the complete data to be communicated at FEP’s annual General Assembly at the beginning of June in Malaga.

FEP continues: “From a regional perspective, it can be stated that markets in the south of the EU (e.g. Spain, Italy, and France) still face serious difficulties, with losses which could reach double digits. In the north, the situation is somewhat better but developments are still slightly negative or, in the best case, stable (e.g. in Sweden). Central Europe remains the best performing region, where Switzerland confirms its status of steady ‘parquet country’ with an expected growth of 6%. Both Austria and Germany should however also see a consumption evolution for 2013 just below zero.” According to FEP, these figures and tendencies have to be seen in the light of “the major challenges which the sector faced in 2013 and still faces today, notably the continuously stiff competition, extremely high unemployment rates in some important EU regions and the never certain exchange rates, especially the EUR/USD ratio.”

FEP expects that the latest - optimistic - economic forecasts of the EC could well give a boost to overall consumer confidence throughout Europe. Furthermore, the Brussels based federation stresses the conclusions of the FEP perception studies, which apparently show that ‘real wood’ flooring is much valued by consumers. In this context, FEP Chairman Lars Gunnar Andersen comments: “We have all the reasons to believe that the current trend is a cyclic evolution but not a structural change. We are witnessing a downsizing of the market, which does not mean that it is altogether absent. Even if the exponential growth witnessed between 1991 and 2007 has seen downward corrections in the recent past, there is no doubt that better days are ahead of us.”

GFA/FEP, January 2014

EPLF-members achieve sales of 463 million m2
Even though slight sales declines continued to be observed in Western Europe, 2013 remained a good year for the EPLF (Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring) thanks to gains in the other regional markets.

EPLF: “Although the financial crisis does not appear to be completely over yet, the international laminate flooring market is recovering.” Growth has been seen particularly in Eastern Europe, as well as in exports to Asia and North America. The upward trend for EPLF producers that began to emerge in the previous year has stabilised, EPLF says. In 2013, the EPLF’s 21 ordinary member companies (manufacturers of laminate flooring) sold 463m m2 of European-produced laminate around the globe (previous year: 460m m2), representing a global market sales increase of approx. 0.7%.

In 2013, the western European core markets in the European laminate flooring industry experienced a slight decline of just under 3% overall. In absolute figures, western European sales fell from 298m m2 in 2012 to 290m in 2013. Germany saw a decline with approx. 72m m2 (prev. year: 76m), yet remained the largest single market, leading the ranking of western European markets. Turkey occupied second place with over 65m m2 (prev. year: 66m). This slightly lower but, according to EPLF, still satisfactory result was achieved partly thanks to the Turkish member companies of the EPLF, and partly due to economic growth in this country. France saw a slight decline with 39m m2 (prev. year: 40m) and continued to hold third place within Europe. The United Kingdom was stable with 29m m2 (prev. year: 29m) and held fourth place, while the Netherlands occupied fifth place with 19m m2 (prev. year: just under 19m). Spain remained in sixth place with 14m m2 (prev. year: 15m).

European laminate flooring manufacturers sold 103m m2 (prev. year: 99m) in Eastern Europe in 2013, an increase of 4% compared with the previous year. Poland once again came top with approx. 25m m2 (prev. year: 24m). With 23.9m m2 (prev. year: 23.7m), Russia held a strong second place in the sales ranking, and promises further growth rates in the future, expects EPLF. Romania occupied third place with 10m m2 (prev. year: 9.8m), while Ukraine maintained its fourth place with a rise to 9 million (prev. year: 8m). Hungary remained in fifth place with 4.6m m2 (prev. year: 4.2m).

In 2011, sales in North America had dropped from 41m m2 in 2010 to 27m m2, while only 23m m2 was achieved in 2012. This was caused by the challenging economic situation in the USA, EPLF explains. In 2013, North American sales picked up once more, with 28m m2. The USA in particular showed an ‘encouraging’ result for European laminate flooring manufacturers, EPLF reports, with 16m m2 (prev. year: 12m). Canada remained stable in 2013 with 11m m2 (prev. year: 11m).

In Asia-Pacific, the total sales of European manufacturers for 2013 stood at approx. 13m m2 (prev. year: 12m), representing a slight increase. The Chinese market, including Hong Kong, showed particularly clear growth due to exports from European producers in the premium sector – this market achieved sales of over 4m m2 (prev. year: 3m) in 2013. The Iranian market fell even further in 2013, achieving less than half of its already rather ‘poor’ 2012 sales figure of 1.6m m2. South America remained stable in 2013 with 17m m2 (prev. year: 17m). The Chilean market showed a somewhat ‘disappointing’ result for EPLF compared with the previous year, with sales of 6m m2 (prev. year: 6.5m), while sales in Mexico shaped up better, rising to 5m m2 (prev. year: 4.3m).

Sales in global market regions
Sales in global market regions (source: EPLF)

GFA/EPLF, January 2014