Europeans still struggling to build U.S. sales
Thomas Russell -- Furniture Today, February 25, 2013
HIGH POINT - Some of the latest import data from trade data specialist Zepol Corp. indicate that some of the top European resources are still having a tough time with the U.S. market.
The data suggest that with some exceptions, the dollar value of shipments from these countries was down in most quarters from the fourth quarter of 2011 through the third quarter of 2012.
The numbers, shown on this page, may not be good news for these countries, but they aren't terrible either. They are probably what one might expect in a post-recessionary period when companies are still going through some rough spots in their business.
For instance, in the cases where these countries did experience growth, we saw mostly double digit increases ranging from 12 to 31 percent. Poland and Italy had relatively small single digit increase during the first quarter of 2012.
The top European shippers include Italy, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom.
On a quarter by quarter basis, Italy had the most wholesale shipments, placing it on a similar level as Indonesia for a comparable period, while the U.K. was the smallest, with shipments ranging from $10.5 million to $13.7 million during each of the four quarters.
Designs from European source countries can vary greatly, with largely contemporary looks in both upholstery and case goods made in Italy and Germany. Resources such as Englishman's Fine Furniture, which brings in much of its line from the U.K., focus on traditional reproduction looks that are updated with more casual finishes. Poland offers a mix of contemporary and traditional looks, but also has manufacturing resources in the ready-to-assemble realm.
Contemporary case goods and upholstery specialist Calligaris USA receives most of its finished goods from its parent company, Calligaris, in Italy. This includes mostly transitional and contemporary lines suitable for sale in Europe, but scaled for the U.S. market. The company said business was up in 2011 and 2012 due to demand in the marketplace at both its core dealer base and its company-owned stores in markets such as New York, Miami and Washington.
In 2013, the company is looking for even more growth as it expands its studio galleries with retailers in the expansive Los Angeles and San Diego markets.
"We are doing a lot of projects and new locations where we haven't been strong in the past, such as the Southern California market," said Thuy Le, product marketing specialist. "We are just trying to grow awareness of the brand."
A potential competitor, Europeo USA, has been established this year as a marketing arm of Italian bedroom manufacturer Petrovich Group Spa. The company sees as an opportunity in a niche within a market that appears to be growing.
"I believe there is always a demand for Made in Italy," said Paulo Tomasi, who has been hired to set up and help run the U.S. office in Greensboro, N.C.