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Slight improvement in global sales - EPLF presents final 2006 sales figures

26 February 2007

After EPLF sales figures based on the first three quarters of 2006 forecast a further global downturn in laminate flooring manufactured in Europe for the whole year, the final sales figures compiled by the EPLF indicate a slight increase. The overall results for 2006 are therefore better than expected, so that EPLF-affiliated manufacturers can be satisfied, in spite of the slump in the US market. The growth is due to increases in sales in Western and Eastern European markets in the fourth quarter of 2006, primarily in Germany.

Worldwide in 2006, the 20 member companies of the EPLF achieved sales of 468 million m² of laminate flooring manufactured within Europe (previous year = 465 million m²). This represents an increase in global market sales of 0.7 %. The market share held by EPLF member companies in the world market is estimated by the Association at around 60%.

Not only Western European markets but also those in Eastern Europe recorded continued growth in 2006. In Western Europe, sales reached some 285 million m² of laminate floorings (previous year =
274 million m²), while in Eastern Europe the figure was 88 million m² (previous year = 82 million m²). This represents growth of 4% in Western Europe and 7% in Eastern Europe. Ahead of the field in Western Europe are Germany, Great Britain, France and the Netherlands, while their counterparts in Eastern Europe – Poland, Romania and Russia – each recorded sales of over 10 million m² of laminate flooring.

The figures show that the markets of Western Europe remain the most important sales areas for EPLF member companies. With 98 million m² (previous year = 88 million m²), Germany again showed strong growth and remains by far the largest single European market. This corresponds to an increase in sales of 11%. Great Britain stemmed its reversal of sales in the previous year to stabilize at 40 million m² (previous year = 40 million m²) and lies in second place in Western European market rankings. France recorded a slight reversal with sales of 36 million m² (previous year 37 million m²) and is in third place. The Dutch market remains at the previous year’s sales level with 20 million m² and occupies fourth place.

The market is seen to be shifting in North America. A year-on-year comparison reveals a fall in total sales of laminate floorings manufactured in Europe from 85 million m² in 2005 to 68 million m² in 2006. This corresponds to a drop of 20%. This is due on the one hand to individual EPLF member companies setting up their own production facilities in the USA and on the other to the increase in Chinese exports to the USA. On the other hand, the South American market continued to grow with sales of 12 million m² in 2006 (previous year = 10 million m²) in Latin American countries (+20%).

The Asia/Pacific region continued to post increases in growth in 2006. Sales by EPLF member companies to Asian markets amounted to 11 million m² in 2006 (previous year = 8 million m²). This represents an increase of 37 %, which was due primarily to intensive market coverage on the part of individual manufacturers. The low overall level of laminate flooring sales by European manufacturers in Asia compared to those in Europe and the Americas is due to the high number of local suppliers, particularly in China. In view of the increased local competition from Asia, leadership in quality and innovation remains a key factor for market success for European manufacturers in global markets.

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