The Furniture Industry Research Association

The centre of knowledge for the furniture industry

News Article

Continued growth in UK furniture manufacturing despite EU Exit uncertainty

The Furniture Industry Research Association has been analysing the Government’s recently published manufacturing and export figures, summarised in its 'MBS turnover of production industries' and 'UK Manufacturers' Sales by Product Survey' (Prodcom). At this time these figures for 2018 onwards are provisional and subject to verification.

The latest figures suggest that the overall performance of the furniture industry during the first quarter of 2019 remained strong at £2.24 billion, an increase of 2.6% when compared with Q1 2018.

Export performance for the same quarter comparatively saw a decrease of approximately 8% from £0.242 billion to £0.223 billion.

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When looking at month by month figures however, export performance shows some signs of recovery, although not quite reaching the previous high point seen in May 2018.

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When considering the detail behind provisional figures for 2018*, key takeaways are:

  • Whilst year on year figures for 2016/2017 showed a decrease in manufacturing sales and other income of -7.4%, initial figures for 2018 show signs of recovery with overall sector growth of 5% (£0.34 billion).
  • Growth was seen in kitchen furniture and mattresses sub-sectors whilst the contract sector which saw a very slight dip of -0.4% (£40 million) over the same period, although this is encouraging when considering previously reported 2016/2017 figures.
  • Figures for manufacture of other furniture are at present an oddity. PRODCOM’s latest release (June 2019) shows a decrease in sales of -2.4% to £3.2 billion, but an unfathomable increase in “other income” of over 800% which gives a total increase in manufacturing sales and other income for this sub-sector of 2.4% to £3.41 billion. It goes without saying that at this stage we would recommend that these figures in particular are treated with extreme caution.

* PRODCOM (June) release contains 2018 provisional estimates, 2017 revised estimates and 2008 to 2016 final estimates.

Retail Sales

Sales of furniture and furnishings items continued to rise throughout 2018 with comparative growth in excess of 10% for the first 3 quarterly periods.

This growth continues into 2019 with first estimates for Q1 indicating an increase of 7.8% to around £4.77 billion when compared to the same period in 2018.

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The Furniture Industry Research Association collates key furniture statistics on an annual basis for its membership. The annual Statistical Digest is a key document for business influencers – informing and influencing key decisions. Association members can download the latest digest, covering the period for 2016, for free here.

The core data is available here.

For more information contact FIRA on 01438 777700 or email info@fira.co.uk.