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EPLF for transparency in a booming market

12 September 1998

The relatively young market for laminate flooring products is experiencing what amounts to a boom in the last decade of the 20th. century. As a result of an increase in demand, new production plants are springing up all over the world and the number of manufacturers is growing steadily. During 1997, production of laminate flooring in Europe reached 100 to 120 million m², of which 80 to 90 million m² were marketed in Europe. Of all European countries, Germany represents the single most important market for laminate flooring products, with annual sales of between 30 and 35 million m² per annum. Whilst a number of German manufacturers are concentrating their efforts on export markets, laminates from the following countries, listed in alphabetical order, are finding their way onto the German domestic market: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands and Sweden.

1994 a number of reputable European companies joined ranks to form the Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF). The founding members were the following firms which are all still members of the Association (listed here in alphabetical order): Alsapan (France), Hamberger (Germany), Kaindl (Austria), Meister Leisten (Germany), Dekaply (Belgium), Unilin (Belgium), Vesterby (Denmark) and Witex (Germany).

1996 four further companies joined the Association (in alphabetical order): Akzenta (Germany), Huga (Germany), EPI (France) and Perstorp (Sweden).

1997 the Association grew once again as the following manufacturing companies were granted membership (in alphabetical order): Egger (Austria), Hornitex (Germany) and Kronotex (Germany).

1998 two further companies, listed here in alphabetical order, became regular members of the Association: Berry Wood (France) and Skema (Italy).

Since the beginning of 1999 the number of regular EPLF-members was increased by DecoLam of Belgium.

Manufacturers of high-quality and technically superior products

EPLF members manufacturer approx. 80% of the laminate flooring products sold in Europe. Membership is open exclusively to companies which have proved their ability to produce high-quality and technically superior products over a period of at least one year.

One of the major tasks the EPLF has set itself is to promote quality and to clearly position the product in the marketplace. One of the inherent problems resulting from mushrooming growth is the fact that customers are confronted with a bewildering array of products which differ greatly in terms of quality, ranging from high-end products on the one hande to inferior offerings on the other. As with many other products, laminates are coming under increasing competitive pressure. This is particularly noticeable in economically testing times.

Truth and clarity in product claims

EPLF's quality strategy is based on close contacts with specialists in the technical field, test institutes and organisations involved in manufacturing and transportation on both a national and international level. EPLF sees urgent need for greater transparency in the market for laminate flooring products in the interest of the trade, fitters and consumers alike. In its mission aimed at greater frankness and clarity in product claims, the Association sees its work vindicated by the introduction of a European standard covering laminate flooring - a process in which EPLF was actively involved. This standard is due to come into force during 1999, but even prior to its introduction, reputable European manufacturers of branded laminate products are already going to great lengths to provide prospective customers with unmisleading information in their product documentation on the quality of their laminate offerings. The focus is on product benefits and claims which are quantifiable and can be backed up by repeatable experimental test results according to valid European standards.

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