Polish furniture industry invests in expansion and modernization of production

Poland is the sixth largest producer and the world's fourth largest exporter of furniture. The most important buyers are in Western Europe. The industry has set itself the goal of strengthening this position in the coming years. This requires increases in productivity and capacities, which is excellent news for Swiss technology providers.

Poland's furniture industry is investing in greater productivity and capacity increases
Poland's furniture industry is investing in greater productivity and capacity increases

The Association of Furniture Manufacturers estimates that furniture valued at just under CHF 13 billion was manufactured in 2017, an 8% increase over the previous year. Further growth of approx. 10% is expected for 2018. Most of the furniture produced is exported. The 2017 Furniture exports are estimated at just under CHF 12 billion (+5% compared to the previous year). The largest buyer of Polish furniture is Germany with a share of around 30% of exports, followed by the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, France and the Netherlands. In 2017, Switzerland imported furniture valued at CHF 217 million from Poland. This makes Poland the fourth largest furniture supplier to Switzerland behind Germany, Italy and China.

One of the problems of Polish furniture exporters is that Polish brands are little known. In addition, sales abroad are mainly via large retail chains. As furniture manufacturing is one of the Polish economy's strategic sectors, the industry can count on state support. The new Polish Furniture program is intended to support promotional activities and the development of new markets. Moreover, investment funds are planned, which are to invest in companies from the industry In its special report on this program, the Polish Development Fund stresses that in order to maintain its strong international position and in light of rising labor costs and the shortage of skilled workers, new business models and increased capital expenditures are required. The development drivers in the industry are apparently automation, robotics, innovations, customized solutions and consolidation.

Producing companies in the industry

There are currently over 27,000 Polish companies involved in furniture manufacturing. 407 large and medium-sized enterprises account for three quarters of the production.

Poland is the second largest supplier of furniture to Ikea after China. The Swedish company operates a dozen factories in the country and is the largest company in the furniture industry in Poland.

However, the Polish furniture industry is characterized by a large number of companies with domestic capital, which have meanwhile become important players in the Central and Eastern European market.

The leading Polish group in the furniture industry is BRW (sales of CHF 470 million in 2016) with 21 production sites in Poland and abroad. The Nowy Styl group (sales of CHF 360 million in 2016) is the third-largest manufacturer of office furniture in Europe. The company operates one of the most high-tech office furniture factories in Europe. Other leading domestic companies are Forte (sales of CHF 302 million in 2016), Szynaka (sales of CHF 221 million in 2016) and Wojcik (sales of CHF 120 million in 2016).

New investments

At the end of 2017, the Austrian company Egger started construction of a furniture panel factory in northeastern Poland. The investment volume amounts to just under CHF 280 million. Production is scheduled to start at the end of 2018.

Ikea commenced the expansion of the factory in Zbaszynek (West Poland) in 2017. The expansion of capacity is expected to cost CHF 63 million and is scheduled for completion around mid-2018. The new plant will allow the production of 125 thousand pieces of furniture every week.

Forte opened a new chipboard factory in early 2018. The next planned investment is in a new production hall with an investment volume of CHF 84 million. The hall is to be put into operation next year.

In 2017, Sklejka Pisz Paged SA received planning permission for the expansion of the woodworking plant in the Special Economic Zone in Pisz/Northeast. The project, valued at CHF 30 million, includes the construction of a new plywood manufacturing facility and new production lines.

In 2017, the furniture manufacturer Meble Wojcik was granted planning permission for the construction of a new production hall and warehouse in Elblag worth approx. CHF 14 million. The company announced plans to invest in automated and innovative production lines. Furthermore, the company plans to expand the existing IT system to better meet customer needs.

The company Szynaka is planning the construction of a new high bay warehouse in Ilawa. The purchase of shelves, barcode terminals, readers and a forklift localization system is estimated to cost around CHF 6 million.

Swiss companies

Various Swiss companies are already active in the Polish furniture market.

The Swiss Krono Group is probably the best known Swiss company in Poland. It claims that a product of the company can be found in every second Polish household.

Swiss Krono specializes in the production and sale of floor coverings, wall designs and wood-based materials for the construction and furniture industry. The company has been active in Poland for over 20 years and employs more than 1,000 people in its Polish production facilities.

Another interesting example is the company IGP, which has been active in Poland for over 15 years with its own sales company and a production facility near Warsaw, which opened in 2016.

IGP produces powder coatings for a wide variety of materials. The products are used in construction, industry, transport or the wood furniture industry. Until recently, powder coating was reserved for metals. The development of innovative low-temperature powder coatings now also makes it possible to coat wood. Compared to wet painting, this leads to enormous time savings by eliminating the repeated sanding, priming and drying. This increase in efficiency is already being used by well-known furniture manufacturers in Poland.

The investments in the sector also create export opportunities for Swiss suppliers of high-quality technologies and solutions for the furniture industry, which are not yet present on the market. Contact us to discuss your market entry.

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Besuch von Katalin Dreher-Hajnal und Swiss Business Hub Polen bei IGP Pulvertechnik in Siestrzen n. Warschau, Februar 2018

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