According to a study conducted by INSEE published in October 2019, France is the fifth largest European furniture producer, after Germany, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom. Particularly competitive in this sector of activity, both by European countries and by China, France has a largely negative trade balance. With a growing trade deficit since it amounts to just over 5 billion today while it was "only" 3.5 billion in 2008. Indeed, it appears that between 2008 and 2018, exports decreased by 12% and imports increased by 20%. So how to explain such a decline?
A market in high demand in France
In 2018, French furniture production amounted to 5 billion euros.
63% of production is devoted to home furnishings and 37% of production is devoted to professional furniture.
We note that the French have an average of 61 furniture per household and 25% of them renew their furniture regularly.
The contract and local government markets are also doing well, accounting for 404 million euros and 664 million euros respectively on the French market.
The decoration and renovation sector, for its part, continues to show robust growth of between 3% and 5%. This craze of French for decoration is explained by the search for a form of comfort and quality of life both at work and at home or in common living areas (cafes, restaurants ...). In short, the French pay particular attention to their interiors.
French industry disadvantaged compared to European and Chinese competition
According to INSEE, in 2018, French furniture production accounts for 6% of EU production and faces strong international competition from both the EU and China, which has become the largest country in the world of furniture supplier in France.In the same year, furniture imports amounted to € 7.2 billion. They have increased by more than 20% in ten years and represent one and a half times the value of French production. China, Italy, Germany and Poland are now the main suppliers since they now deliver more than half of French imports. Those from China and Poland have more than doubled in ten years.
The production of seats particularly affected
Seats and their parts as well as furniture represent more than 80% of imports in France and come mainly from China and Italy. Seat production, which ranks second in Europe, has fallen sharply in France. Poland, Italy and Germany share more than 50% of the seats manufactured in Europe, and France is only in seventh place with only 4% of production.
Unfortunately, this deficit has many repercussions on the territory, particularly in regions where employment tends to decrease.
Four regions (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Pays de la Loire, Grand-Est and Nouvelle-Aquitaine) account for half of the furniture companies in France and employment has been declining for the last 10 years.
In Greater East and New Aquitaine, respectively the regions of our plants Régnier and Cardineau, the numbers have decreased by half.
Rely on the "Made in France" know-how, a guarantee of development
Rather, we find that companies that have developed a real know-how both in the choice of materials and in the manufacturing process manages to succeed by relying on the international opportunity and export.
Régnier, for example, the molded plywood seating specialist accounts for 65% of its turnover abroad. This is proof of a known and recognized know-how and quality sought.
In parallel, new studies show that 95% of French people want to support the national industry and are willing to pay more for a product made in France.
This corresponds in particular to the expectations of French ever stronger in terms of transparency on the environmental, social and health conditions in which our products are manufactured.
Wood is one of the few materials that can be produced and processed in France. Remember that 31% of the territory is covered with forests.
By choosing wood as the main material of manufacture, this allows a double benefit, both environmental and social: to use a local resource, renewable and low impact compared to other imported materials and at the same time to be free from risks associated with the production of certain materials such as steel, mostly produced in China with risks to the health and safety of workers.
Buying a product made in France means creating jobs, preserving know-how and reducing environmental impacts. This is the ambition of the Group Les Manufactures Fevrier, whose mission is to revalue the French industrial heritage with the sincere desire to retain the expertise of our companies in France, such as Brugère, specialist in wood peeling, based at Chatillon sur Seine; Régnier, which produces molded plywood seats and is located in the Aube; or Cardineau, expert in the specific bending of wooden pieces, which is in Vendée.