Romania. A promising hub for upholstered furniture companies
Romania plays a key role in the European upholstered furniture sector, ranking fourth in export and fifth in production of this segment. In 2017 Romanian companies manufactured upholstered furniture for a value of about EUR 670 million, increasing by nearly 50% in the time frame 2012 – 2017.
EXPORTS AND INVESTMENTS DRIVING THE GROWTH
Romania is one of the best performers among main European upholstered furniture manufacturing countries. The impressive production growth is mainly driven by exports and by investments of foreign players, which set up production facilities or established partnerships with domestic companies across the country in order to benefit from lower labour costs.
Some leading upholstered furniture manufacturers operating subsidiaries in Romania are the German Polipol and Himolla; Natuzzi and DiTre from Italy; the Austrian Ada; the French Parisot Group (through the subsidiary PGS Sofa), Cotta International and Rom, which is headquartered in Belgium.
The most important foreign investments resulting in the opening of manufacturing facilities took place in the early 2000s.
Cotta International, (Liechtenstein), started upholstered furniture production in Arad in 2000. Natuzzi established its subsidiary Italsofa in 2001 (in operation since 2003). The group today employs over 1,000 people in Romania, where about 15% of Natuzzi’s total upholstery revenue is generated. Two years later, Polipol set up SC Polipol Mobilia in Satu Mare, with 730 workers in an area of 40,000 sq.m.
In recent years both local and foreign-invested companies are facing the problem of shortage of skilled workforce, which is affecting the upholstered furniture sector also across the New EU Members, in particular, Poland and Romania.
In Romania, according to the Romanian Furniture Manufacturers Association (APMR), furniture manufacturers do not find qualified employees, and those who are trained go abroad for much higher wages. As a result, in 2017, the number of employees in the Romanian furniture industry has been decreasing.
Most important local and foreign upholstered furniture manufacturers are located in the furniture district of Maramures, where about 20% of total Romanian furniture production is carried out. Aramis Invest and Taparo are among leading local producers and exporters located in this area.
Aramis Invest belongs to Aramis Group, an integrated cluster of companies located in Baia Mare, where it operates two manufacturing plants (one for upholstered furniture, the other for polyurethane foams and mattresses) employing about 4,500 people. Taparo is specialised in upholstered furniture production with a workforce of over 1,000 employees. Both companies are leading IKEA’s suppliers and export almost their entire production.
A HIGHLY EXPORT-ORIENTED COUNTRY
Export is a major growth engine for Romanian manufacturers. Romania is a highly export-oriented country, with more than 80% of local upholstered furniture production exported in 2017, reaching a value of about EUR 550 million. Main trading partners are France, Italy and Germany, which together absorb more than one-half of Romanian upholstered furniture exports.
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