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June 2013 #236 News / Technology Edgebanding / Decorative & solid surfaces Fittings & components / Sanding & finishing / Adhesives & coatings Woodworking machinery / Bed & mattress production / Material handling



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Sustainable excitement With the ringing still in my ears from Ligna’s machinery and spots in my eyes from interzum’s colourful offerings, I’ve returned to the office buzzing with knowledge and ideas. As with other years, sustainability was a hot ticket at both shows. This fragile globe has taken a kicking in recent decades and it has fallen on our generation to start the repair work. Ligna’s slogan “making the most from wood” couldn’t have been more apt as exhibitors were keen to show off methods of optimising woodcutting and utilising waste in a number of inventive ways. In conjunction with this was the idea of minimising power wastage when machines are left idle. The general feeling I got from the show was that if we can make small gains at every stage of the woodworking process – from logging and transportation, right through to milling and furniture production – then the industry as a whole will become greener and more sustainable, and that is just what manufacturers have been working on in the two years leading up to the show. interzum too, was alive with a discussion about how to limit the industry’s impact on the earth, with everyone from edgebanding companies to bed manufacturers providing methods to cut down the initial material cost of their products and help with its eco-friendly disposal at the end of its life. See page 7 for a brief overview of visitor figures for both shows, and look out for the full reviews next month. Closer to home now, and Furniture Production has an announcment to make – next month’s issue will be our 20th anniversary celebration issue. June’s magazine will include a special supplement as a nostalgic look back over 20 years of the furniture production and joinery industries, including articles from industry veterans who can give us a first-hand account of how the trade has changed over the years, as well as a look back at FP magazine itself. So we hope you can join us and raise a glass. Until then, enjoy this issue – highlights include our Industry Voice section (page 10) where CSIL’s Mauro Spinelli gives a world overview of the furniture manufacturing industry and our Q&A piece (page 82) where FIRA’s Phil Reynolds has been nice enough to answer some questions about his experiences working as a furniture tester. Enjoy! Steve Platts, editorial assistant E W Follow Furniture Production editorial on Twitter: @FurnitureProdEd or Furniture Production advertising on Twitter: @FurnitureProdAd

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Furniture hardware – a world overview According to CSIL’s Mauro Spinelli, the furniture hardware business is showing expansion at a global level. In this article, reproduced courtesy of World Furniture Review, Mauro studies the trends visible at various levels of the industry. Growth in international trade As with other manufacturing sectors, emerging economies registered better performances than mature markets, but, globally, international trade flows of furniture hardware have registered a 7% average growth since 2005. China, with US$2.7b, is the largest exporter of furniture fittings, followed by Germany and Italy. The market drop recorded in 2009 has been completely absorbed during a three-year growth period – in particular, China almost doubled its export values over the period 2005-2011, Germany increased by 7% on average, while other major exporters remained approximately at the same level. However, despite lower amounts, the best performance was registered by Turkey, which tripled its export values in the period considered – +25% average yearly growth – and Romania, which increased 35% per year. On the other hand the US, the world’s largest importer, absorbed US$1.2b worth of furniture fittings, followed by Germany, Poland, France and Italy. Expansion of large leading groups The market is dominated by a restricted number of European groups, which employ around 20,000 people in total. These groups include large players like Blum (5500 employees) and Hettich (5900), and smaller companies like Titus (450 employees). These companies concentrate their production activities in Austria, Germany, Italy and Eastern Europe – mainly in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Almost all relevant markets in Europe and Russia are served by commercial branches and showrooms. Many leading brands entered the US market at the end of the Seventies. Most of

them – Blum, Hettich, Grass and Titus – operate one main production base in the country and have strong agreements with large specialist distributors, providing a widespread presence across different regions of the US and Canada. Over the last 15 years, several factories opened in the Asia-Pacific region. Hettich and Häfele entered the Chinese market in 1996, opening factories in Shanghai and Beijing respectively. More recently, in 2007, the Italian group FGV Formenti & Giovenzana inaugurated a factory in Guangdong, China. The Titus Group has chosen Malaysia and Indonesia for its Asian sourcing. A presence in the area is crucial for supplying the buoyant Chinese furniture industry, and also to easily reach neighbouring markets – especially India. Hettich India Pvt Ltd (Mumbai) was founded in 2001 following a joint venture between the Hettich Group and the Saroj Poddar Group. Hettich has a pan-Indian presence, with a customer base of over 1500 large and small dealers, furniture and kitchen manufacturers. With six registered offices – in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad – Hettich is considered a leader in the local market. Brazil is another important target market. Hettich, FGV, Salice and Blum run their own factories in the country. Brand strategy and distribution Marketing strategies from leading companies are increasingly focused on improving brand knowledge. Visibility of hardware brands becomes a synonym of good quality and product durability for furniture manufacturers. For this reason, investments in communication have been increasing over the last three years. Furthermore, leading groups have chosen a strategy of simplification, reducing the number of brands offered with the aim of increasing brand awareness. For example, Mepla Alfit product lines are now marketed under the Grass brand, and the same strategy has been adopted by Titus International converting Lama products under Titus+. At the same time, furniture fittings manufacturers are becoming more and more independent from furniture producers. Obviously, OEM markets represent a large share of the business. If combined with hardware distributors/

wholesalers they represent over 70% of total sales for the majority of the largest groups. On the other hand, we cannot ignore that some alternative distribution channels are gaining ground. First of all, the DIY segment – which is relevant in the substitution market – followed by e-commerce and, more recently, the contract project business. Approaching contract business Among the relevant contract projects carried out in the furniture hardware sector, here are two examples. Firstly, Häfele in Dubai. In 2010 the Häfele Group supplied hardware products and technology worth ¤8m for Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Dubai office of Häfele GCC formed a local joint venture with Dorma Gulf, the international architectural firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill, and project managers Turner International, to provide the specifications. Häfele could meet the stringent American building codes NFPA for fire protection and ADA barrier-free design. Over 2000 different types of hardware products were included in the programme for this project. Approximately 12,000 doors are now fitted with Häfele’s quality products, including custommade lever handles, locks, door closers, special hinges and a broad assortment of door accessories, as well as electronic locking systems with up to 12 functions, that meet all security requirements. In addition, Häfele also supplied numerous articles from its furniture fittings assortment. Secondly is the case of Hettich in China. More recently, Hettich China entered into a partnership with the local design company CSL in order to fit out the InterContinental Hotel in Suzhou, including 432 rooms and 55 suites. The project, completed in 2012, has been focused on combining contemporary Chinese design with high-tech functionality. InterContinental’s five-star requirements included silently- and soft-closing doors runners and furniture hinges.

Mauro Spinelli is the senior expert of industry and country studies at Milan’s Centre for Industrial Studies (CSIL), an independent research institute specialising in applied economics. Article courtesy of CSIL’s World Furniture Review magazine, March 2013. W

“The market is dominated by a restricted number of European groups, which employ around 20,000 people in total” w w w. f u r n i t u r e p r o d u c t i o n . n e t

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Furniture Production June 2013  

Furniture Production is a global publication and leading website providing news, insight and features on all the latest in the furniture pro...

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