Member companies of the EPLF European Producers of Laminate Flooring based in Bielefeld in Germany, can be reasonably satisfied with their annual sales figures for laminate flooring in 2005 in spite of weaknesses earlier in the year. Although a slump in the laminate flooring market was evident in the first third of 2005, sales stabilized in the second and third quarters and were consolidated through to the end of the year. An estimate of internal EPLF company annual sales figures based on the first three-quarters of 2005 produces the following results:
Worldwide in 2005, the 21 member companies of the EPLF achieved sales of 456 million m² of laminate flooring with the “Made in Europe" stamp (p.y. 437 million m²). This corresponds to an increase in worldwide sales of just under 4.5 per cent. The market share held by EPLF member companies in the world market is estimated by the Association at around 60 per cent.
While the traditional Western European sales market of EPLF member companies improved only slightly in 2005 with 269 million m² (p.y. 267 million m²), the Eastern European market posted healthy increases in growth. The laminate flooring market in Eastern Europe increased from 68 million m² (2004) to 77 million m² (2005) and achieved a growth rate of 14 per cent. Ahead of the field were Poland with 21.5 million m², the Russian Federation with 12 million m², Romania with 11 million m² and Hungary with 6 million m². This represents a continuation of last year’s trend.
Notwithstanding the positive developments in Eastern Europe, it's the Western European markets which in 2005 remained the most important European sales markets for EPLF's member companies. With 84 million m², the German market remains stable compared to the previous year and continues to represent the biggest single European market. Great Britain has decreased with 41 million m²
(p.y. 49 million m²) but keeps hold of the number 2 spot in the Western European market rankings while France has improved with 38 million m² (p.y. 36 million m²) and is in third place. The Dutch market remained at the previous year’s sales level (20 million m²) and occupies fourth place.
North America again posted strong growth in 2005. A yearly comparison shows an increase in total sales from 79 million m² to 86 million m². This represents an increase of 9 per cent. The lion’s share of the market is that of the USA with 67 million m² (p.y. 60 million m²), an increase of 12 per cent. However the South American market is also growing: 10 million m² (p.y. 7.9 million m²) were sold in 2005 in Latin American countries.
The Asian markets were unable to show any improvement in 2005. Sales in Asia were around 8.5 million m² (p.y. 9.5 million m²). The reason for the overall decline is related to the increasing number of production units established locally by EPLF member companies and a rise in the number of local suppliers, especially in China, all of which has made a noticeable impact on the export business of European manufacturers. The sales figures generated locally in Asia by EPLF member companies were not included in the statistics.
Overall, the EPLF had a positive balance sheet in 2005. Developments in Eastern Europe and America were particularly pleasing. The potential for a new laminate flooring market in South America continues to grow. Notwithstanding these developments, Western Europe – as the domestic market – remains strong for EPLF member companies.
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