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Design Made in Italy: 2021 marks the year of recovery but it’s alarm for 2022

5 June 2022

FederlegnoArredo data show a +11% in 2019 and 26 billion in turnover for the Macro furniture and lighting system. Feltrin: “Expensive energy and war undermine growth, but our business is healthy. Salone del Mobile is an opportunity to reaffirm leadership and open up to new markets.”

 

After the global economic crisis in 2020, 2021 was significant for wood-furniture companies to recover the gap caused by the pandemic. The preliminary figures drawn up by Centro Studi FederlegnoArredo show an authentic recovery, involving to a different extent the various sectors making up the wood-furniture supply chain. A particularly positive trend for furniture and lighting Macrosystem closes 2021 with a +11% compared to 2019, for a total turnover of over 26 billion euros (23.5 billion in 2019) and active trade balance of 9,3 billion euros with an increase of +19.7% compared to 2020 and +9.3% to 2019. Not be undervalued that the price effect also contributes to determining the magnitude of the growth in 2021 and that next year’s company balance sheets will tell how much they have affected.

To cope with the higher costs of raw materials and energy, companies had to increase their prices, often accompanied by a reduction of the margins, and, in minor measure, resort to energy self-production. The supplying problem is far from resolved. Intensified by the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, this issue is giving and will give serious repercussions also in 2022. The conflict is increasing the companies’ supply difficulties and further pushing raw materials and energy prices, reaching the final product and making our products, therefore our companies, less competitive.

From Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, we import approximately 5.3% of logs, panels, and sawn timber which are 468,948 cubic meters worth (data Jan-Nov 2021) out of the about 9 million cubic meters total arriving in Italy from all over the world. Russia is worth 2.5%, Ukraine 2.3% and Belarus 0.5%. The weight of Russia on the export of the wood-furniture industry consists in 410 million euros (data updated to November 2021) which in 2019 was 435, thus recording a decrease of about 6 percentage points. On the other hand, the furniture and lighting macrosystem is worth about 340 million euros, 361 in 2019, with a decrease of around 6 percentage points also recorded in this case. In the export “ranking” of the Macro Furniture System, Russia is the ninth country, behind China, Spain, and Belgium.

“In 2021 our companies seemed to have left behind the worst pandemic period. Instead, they are now looking to the future with uncertainty and concern. That for a conflict that, in addition to being a human drama, also risks completely blocking the recovery phase of the Italian economy and bringing recession scenarios. It is enough – explains Claudio Feltrin, president of FederlegnoArredo – to listen to the alarm cry of every entrepreneur to understand how serious the situation is and how producing is becoming a luxury that fewer and fewer companies can afford.

Entire production chains stop due to unsustainable energy costs. Some had to turn off their engines for a while, even in our supply chain. I refer to the first wood processing steps, with heavy impact of energy costs, therefore already influencing the Pricelists of the final products, and will soon also affect the availability of raw materials. As a Federation, we have taken action both dialoguing with members and institutions, so that the most affected companies can have the necessary support and information to face this difficult moment. 2021 closed in a surprisingly positive way for the furniture and the home-related systems in particular. Geopolitical uncertainties and the stops and go on building bonuses create confusion and slowdowns, and we have sadly recorded the first signs already. Despite this, our companies are ready to show themselves to the world at the June Salone, giving us courage and confidence and testifying that this is an industry with a healthy foundation.

The Trade Fairs in person represent the key factor for the desired normalization of exports and trade that now have to deal with a suddenly changed international picture. Our companies have demonstrated – during the pandemic – that they are flexible and resilient; now they are called to prove it again, implementing a change of direction in a short time towards new markets that can replace the Russian one and those of its direct influence. It will not be easy, given that the positioning on the markets never responds to a hit-and-run approach. The Federation – underlines Feltrin – is already operating by acting as spokesman in the competent offices whose turnover is entirely or in big part compromised because of the war and will need to be accompanied through a phase of market diversification.

The Salone in June will be even more of an opportunity for our entrepreneurs, who, I am sure, will be able to exploit the full potential of the most known design Fair in the world. Creating a system between the players in the field – concludes Feltrin – will be fundamental to defend the economy and the symbolic value that our sector represents for the Made in Italy in the world”.

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