Bulgaria’s furniture sector 40% drop in sales

Bulgaria’s furniture sector 40% drop in sales

Battered by a sharp deterioration in domestic demand, Bulgaria’s furniture manufacturers are facing an up to 40% slide in sales, according to Kalin Simeonov, chairman of the wood processing and furniture chamber.

Speaking at the World of Furniture exhibition running at Sofia’s Inter Expo Center, he said that furniture demand has shrank by 50% since the end of 2008, when the market was still alive and kicking.

Unlike wood processors, which were hit by the crisis as early as mid-2008, furniture makers pulled off a 5% increase in sales for the year, hoping to dodge a decline in 2009.

A survey by local pollster Barometer showed that the furniture industry could have scaled up its output by 15% if the crisis had not erupted, building on robust demand propped by blossoming construction and mortgage home purchases.

Thus, while around 70 percent of company executives had lined up fresh investment in end-2008, now many have put their plans on the rocks, Simeonov said.

But as furniture makers see no signs of an upcoming rebound, the wood processing industry is experiencing tepid growth. Struck by the downturn in mid-2008 when the market grinded to a complete standstill, the sector posted a slight recovery in the recent months. Companies based in the southern Rodopi region say foreign demand is perking up, with orders tricking in from Greece, Israel and Iraq, among other markets.