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News Release

December 20, 2004

New AKTRIN Report on



The AKTRIN Furniture Information Center in collaboration with AMA Research of the United Kingdom have published a new study of the UK Upholstered Furniture and Bed Market.  


The upholstered furniture and beds market was estimated to be worth around ?.1bn msp in 2003. The market has experienced modest growth in recent years and is expected to continue to grow at a similar rate. Underlying annual growth rates are forecast at around 2% in 2004, following lower levels of consumer confidence and an unstable economic environment, in addition to high levels of price competition in both the beds and upholstered furniture market. Price competition is restricting the growth of both upholstered furniture and beds due to the high level of imports in certain sectors of the market. These trends are expected to continue in the medium term.


In recent years, growth rates have been supported by the buoyant housing market and high levels of consumer spending. Between 2000 and 2002 consumer confidence remained fairly high and mortgage equity withdrawal has been increasing year on year to record levels. The wide range of products now available, in addition to consumers becoming more discerning, has also supported growth.


Upholstered Furniture


In 2003, the Upholstered Furniture Market was worth an estimated ?.5bn MSP, with the domestic market accounting for around 90%. The majority of the remaining 10% is accounted for by the hotel and leisure sector. Sustained low interest rates and the growing influence of home improvement TV programs and magazines also supported growth.


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In 2003, the increasing level of imports and the high level of price competition have restricted value growth. Certain sectors of the market have contributed to the overall value growth particularly the growth of leather, sofas and motion furniture. In contrast, some sectors have experienced higher levels of price competition including suites and sofa beds, while others such as three-piece suites have declined.


In spite of the declining market share for 3 piece suites, they account for around 47% of the market by value. Sofas account for approximately 17% of the market, with demand having grown significantly at the expense of 3 piece suites. Action furniture has also increased and now accounts for 18% of the market compared to 16% in 2002. Sofa beds and other furniture account for around 9% of the market by value. This area has remained fairly static with some sectors declining, e.g. footstools etc, which is probably due to the popularity of recliners.


Growth in demand for leather has far exceeded growth for the overall upholstery sector, although the cost of raw materials has fallen recently, which may affect value share gain in the medium term. Key factors behind increasing demand levels include fashion trends, a wider range of styles and designs, which appeal to a wider target market, including younger consumers and increasing price competition.

Imports continue to increase in this sector accounting for 38% of the market in 2003 at ?70m. The majority of these products are imported from countries within the EC, with Italy and Belgium as key suppliers. Other major countries of export to the UK of wooden framed upholstered furniture are the Benelux countries, Poland and Russia .
In 2003 exports were worth around ?4m, accounting for approximately 4% of total
UK output, a figure which has remained static during the last two years.
Republic , the
Netherlands and
Germany are key export destinations.



The beds market increased by 2% to ?16m in 2003. In addition to underlying macro-economic factors, a key strength for the bed industry is that consumers typically regard beds as essential and not discretionary purchases. However, the high level of price competition in certain sectors of the beds market has affected value growth during the last two years.


In terms of product mix, divans account for around 48% of the market by value, but market share has slowly been eroded by strong growth in demand for bedsteads. Overall bedsteads account for around 26% of the market by value. Imports of metal bedsteads accounted for 66% of bed imports by value in 2003, with overall imports increasing from 83m in 2002 to ?3m in 2003. Imports of bed bases declined in 2003, while mattresses increased significantly by 32%. However, overall exports declined, albeit marginally in 2003 from ?6m to ?5.1m.


By value, mattresses account for around 18% of the market. Steady growth in the market has been underpinned by growth in the higher value pocket sprung sector. Overall, spring interiors continue to dominate, accounting for 90% of the market. During the last 5 years, there has been a marked trend away from single to double beds, in particular king sized beds have gained share.


The beds sector is more concentrated in terms of suppliers than the upholstered furniture market with major suppliers including Silentnight, Sleepeezee Holdings and Airsprung. Other key suppliers include Relyon, Slumberland and Horatio Myers. The main role of the Internet remains a marketing tool, with manufacturers and retailer web sites acting as the first point of contact for customers.



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AKTRIN is a report writing and international consulting firm fully dedicated to the furniture industry. The company has been in existence since 1985 and maintains offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Germany . Representatives and affiliates are located throughout the world.
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