With an industry-wide sales growth of 4.4 percent compared to the previous year, the fiscal year 2018 of the German office furniture industry ended succesfully. This positive balance is reported by the German Industrial Association for the Office and the World of Work e.V. (IBA). The basis for their report is the turnover of office furniture manufacturers in Germany. According to an internal survey, the turnover of IBA member companies and other office furniture producers in this country last year was around 2.5 billion euros. Of this, about 85 percent was attributable to the members of the association.
Upward trend brings manufacturers to capacity limits
The industry has been recording a stable upward trend for years: for the fifth time in a row, annual sales of office furniture have risen. The number of employees at German office furniture manufacturers also grew again – by four percent to around 13,800 compared to 2017. In addition, the order intake was at times so high that in many companies special shifts were required to meet the demand.
The IBA recorded a particularly high increase in export . Compared to the previous year, sales on export markets rose by 5.9 percent. The main growth drivers here were office swivel chairs for health-promoting seating. In addition to the main export markets of France, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, demand from Italy, the Benelux countries and Eastern Europe developed particularly well. A drop in demand from the United Kingdom – according to the IBA – did not occur despite the impending Brexit in 2018. The export quota averaged 28.1 percent.
High growth momentum also in Germany
As in previous years, domestic business rose again by 3.8 percent compared to 2017. The most important reason for this is the support of new forms of work through suitable work environments. At the same time, demand for ergonomic equipment for home offices and other workplaces outside of the company locations is increasing.
For the current financial year, the IBA predicts a slightly weaker market growth of 3.0 to 3.6 percent due to the uncertain political and economic conditions.
Office as a center of digital corporate culture
Industry experts see digitization as a key factor in continued strong demand for redesigned office workplaces. “The new technological possibilities that allow many office workers to work outside the office, at home, or elsewhere make employers face new challenges. It is important to strengthen employees’ loyalty to the company and to continue to bring shared values to life. The office therefore has an important function for the corporate culture and becomes a meeting place and a place of identification, “explains Hendrik Hund, Chairman of the IBA.
In addition to good basic equipment, professional advice and service are in demand in the company’s own offices. “Our members are responding to this with a much broader range of services that includes not only furniture but also building management systems and technical components for easy logging in by those non-territorial collaborators. More than ever, we rely on individual solutions for our customers and specialist advice, “continues Hund.