The woodworking technology and furniture industry sector performed very well in 2018. According to the final data elaborated by the study office of Acimall, the confederation association that gathers the companies of the sector, 2018 ended with a national production of 2,514 million euros, marking an excellent 10.6% more than the previous year. This result, the best in the last ten years net of inflation, was determined by a first semester very positive both domestically and in exports, which was followed by a second half of the year that remained at the levels reached in June.
Also in 2018 the sector confirms its propensity to export, which registers 1,721 million euros, or more than 8.2% over 2017, thanks mainly to European markets, which account for about 70 percent of total exports, and North America, in particular the United States.
Sales on the domestic market were also excellent, reaching almost 800 million euro, 16.4 per cent more than in 2017. This figure, also to be considered the best in the last ten years, is determined by several factors: the return to investment after a long period of stagnation due to the years of crisis, the resumption of the production of furniture “made in Italy“ and especially the measures developed by the Italian State related to the so-called “Industry 4.0“.
These measures include the extension of the Sabatini law for the financing of the purchase of machinery, the tax incentive for the tax credit and for investments in research and development.
The introduction of measures such as the “Super-amortisation“ and the “Hyper-amortisation“, the latter extended also in 2019, for the purchase of new machinery has also proved to be important.
In 2018, imports amounted to €242 million, mainly from Germany, China and Austria, while imports from India, Poland and Turkey are on the rise.
The trade balance, i.e. the difference between exports and imports, stood at €1,479 million in 2018, up 5.5 per cent on 2017. Apparent consumption was 1,035 million, up 19 percentage points.
The international context
In 2018, the leadership in the production and sale of technologies for the sector saw Germany, Italy and China at the top.
German manufacturers sold machines abroad for 2.4 billion euros, up 2 per cent on 2017; Italy stopped at 1.6 billion euros, including tools, while China continues to reduce the gap with “made in Europe“ at 1,532 million, up 11.7 per cent.
It should be noted, however, that in German exports technologies for the first processing of wood play a significant role. Germany concentrates its exports in five markets: United States,
China, Poland, Austria and France, while Italy is characterized by a widespread presence in many markets.
The ranking of the top exporting countries of woodworking machinery continues with Taiwan and Austria, respectively in fourth and fifth position.
In 2018, Taiwan exported wood and furniture technologies for 586 million euros, a slight decrease compared to the previous year, especially to the United States and neighbouring China.
Austria closed 2018 with a sales volume of 505 million euros, up 7.4 percent, largely due to trade with Germany.
In sixth and seventh place are the United States and Canada, which closed 2018 with 304 and 253 million euros respectively, followed by Poland (203 million), Finland (171 million) and Japan (132 million).
Three other countries that have recorded interesting results in the last five years should be mentioned: the Czech Republic has gone from 85 to 125 million, while Slovenia has exceeded 100 million (in 2014 it was 58 million). Turkey is also definitely improving its production fabric, despite the political tensions of the last two years, exporting machines for more than 90 million in 2018.
First quarter 2019
According to the findings of the Acimall Study Office, the first quarter of 2019 shows a generalized decline in orders, a situation that is however to be considered physiological after the “boom“ of 2017 and the further growth of last year. On this situation will certainly have a positive effect, at least on the domestic front, the restoration of the super-amortization, contained in the Growth Decree, and the maintenance of the hyper-amortization to support the process of innovation in a digital key essential to compete internationally.
According to the Acimall survey, in the first three months of 2019 the woodworking machinery and tool industry recorded an 11 per cent drop in orders compared to the same period of the previous year. Orders from abroad decreased (minus 10.2 per cent), while domestic demand decreased by 14.5 per cent.
The order book is 3.7 months and since the beginning of the year there has been an increase in prices of 0.5 per cent. The information gathered on the trend in turnover, on the other hand, is in contrast to the trend in orders and shows an increase of 10.3 per cent.
The forecasting survey unfortunately shows that a certain climate of distrust among operators continues, both internally and internationally, which is also confirmed by the trend of the main macroeconomic indicators that explain how the small positive rebound in industrial production that took place in February-March is largely due to a restoration of stocks.