“There never could be a better way to start the new year. The data processed by our Studies office confirm the perception of recent months: 2021 has started off very positively, with a strong expansion of the demand of furniture and wood industry technology,” confirms Luigi De Vito, president of Acimall – the association that gathers the Italian manufacturers of technologies, tools and equipment for wood and wood-based materials. He comments: “We can report amazing result of the first 90 days of this year, with orders up by 58% compared to the same period in 2020. The trend of international orders was very positive, with a 52% increase, while domestic demand literally boomed, growing by 87.8%.
“The term of comparison is clearly a period – January-March 2020 – that had been strongly affected by the lockdown emergency, but nevertheless, the rebound has exceeded our expectations, supported by the positive signals that had come in the final quarter of 2020,” De Vito added.
In absolute value, the excellent trend of orders in early 2021 has pushed the Italian wood technology industry back up to its al-time highs, achieved in 2018, with a quarter-on-quarter increase by 17.6%.
The quarterly survey carried out by Acimall’s Studies office on a statistic sample of companies also showed that total revenues, compared to Q1 2020, increased by 2.4%.
The interviewees gave clear feedback in the quality survey: 75% of the sample indicated a positive production trend (versus 50% in the previous quarter, clear evidence of increasing confidence in more reactive markets; 5% reported decreasing business, while 20% reported substantial stability. Growth was also the predominant trend in employment figures: 55% of the sample reported a stable trend, while 40% indicated an increase and 5% a reduction. Available stocks are increasing according to 40% of the interviewees, decreasing for 20% and stable for 40%.
According to the forecast survey, 55% expect the export trend to remain unchanged at the current values, while 45% believe that the situation can only improve. No one fears the situation might get worse, which is significant in terms of confidence in the future. Looking at the domestic market alone, the outlook is the opposite: 55% of the sample expect further expansion, 40% stability and 5% think there will be a reduction.
2020 final balance
So, Acimall says the first quarter showed a clear and positive change of direction after a year, 2020, that will be remembered as one of the most difficult periods the Italian industry has ever faced.
According to the final figures published by the Acimall Studies office, the production of Italian companies in 2020 stopped at €1,848m, i.e. 18.4% less than in 2019. This massive drop, as it could be easily predicted, mostly occurred in the first part of the year, when the impact of the measures to fight the Covid-19 pandemic was stronger.
Starting from the summer, the trend was much more positive, especially in the fourth quarter; the trend reversal supported confidence and a positive attitude across the entire industry, but it was not enough to make up for lost time, orders and revenues, although it helped close 2020 better than it had been figured out in the toughest months.
Of course, the global situation also had an impact on Italian export, with a 15.8% decrease versus 2019 and an absolute value of €1,330m. Despite this reduction, international sales remain the major driver for the entire industry. The reduction of import in 2020 was even stronger in%age, down by 28.2%, at €153m. On the whole, these figures indicate that the domestic demand in 2020 was still in a critical situation, while the trade balance – i.e. the export-import difference – still remained at high levels – €1,177m.