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CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

CBI MARKET SURVEY

THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET


IN FRANCE
Publication date: November 2008
Report summary
This CBI market survey discusses the following highlights for the domestic furniture market in
France:
The French market for domestic furniture was valued at 9.67 billion in 2007, an average
annual increase of 3.4% since 2003. Domestic furniture production was estimated to be
7.1 billion in 2007, representing an average annual increase of 1.4% since 2003.
In 2007, France imported domestic furniture valued at 5.05 billion, or 1.86 million
tonnes. This represented an average annual increase in value of 8.2% since 2003. In terms
of volume, the annual increase was 11%.
21% of French imports by value ( 1.06 billion) came from developing countries and 26%
(477 thousand tonnes) by volume. The share of supplies from developing countries was up
from 18% in value ( 654 million) in 2003, and up from 23% in volume terms (from 285
thousand tonnes). France has a below average share of developing country imports
compared with other EU countries for this sector. This is partly because some supplies
come from other transit countries such as Belgium.
This survey provides exporters of domestic furniture with sector-specific market information
related to gaining access to France. By focusing on a specific country, this survey provides
additional information, complementary to the more general information and data provided in
the CBI market survey The domestic furniture market in the EU, which covers the EU market
in general. That survey also contains an overview and explanation of the selected products
dealt with, some general remarks on the statistics used, as well as information on other
available documents for this sector. It can be downloaded from http://www.cbi.eu/marketinfo.
1

Market description: consumption and production

Consumption
Total market size
The French market for domestic furniture was valued at 9,670 million in 2007. This
represented a very positive 7.2% increase over 2006 and an average annual increase of 3.4%
since 2003. This was above the EU average of 2% growth over the same period. France was
the fourth largest EU market, well behind the UK, 40% behind the Italian market size and
approximately half the size of Germany, the largest market. The French market was 40%
larger than the next country, Spain. Per capita consumption of 152 was just below the EU27
average of 165.
Table 1.1 Consumption of domestic furniture in France, 2003-2007, million
2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

8,451

8,575

8,787

9,016

9,670

Average
ann. %
change
3.4

Population
(million)

per capita
in

63.6

152

Occupants Households
per h/h
(thousand)
2.3

27,045

Source: Ipa (2008)

The growth rate in 2007 was the highest for 30 years. This can be explained by a good
performance in the French economy and an increase in the number of new homes being built.
Owner occupation in France is lower than the EU average. This partly explains why per capita
consumption is lower than the EU average. According to the French Institute for the Promotion
of Furniture Ipa, homeowners spent around 1,760 on furniture in 2005, while people in

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CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

rented accommodation spent 723. On the other hand, the proportion of people in rented
accommodation in 2005 was higher at 56.3%.
There is continuing pressure on furniture expenditure from other sectors, particularly leisure
and communication equipment based on new technologies. However, the furniture market has
maintained its appeal due to the continuing growth in home improvement magazines and
television programmes dedicated to the sector. Furthermore, competition between retailers
has resulted in more floor space dedicated to furniture and more collections, styles and ideas,
which have stimulated a growth in sales.
Market segmentation
There are a number of ways in which the furniture market can be segmented. Before looking
more closely at the most common method, which is by furniture type or furniture usage, it is
also worth looking at two other ways of viewing the market:
Segmentation by price: According to Ipa the majority of furniture buyers are aged under
35 years old. In terms of price, French consumers can be segmented as follows:
- People under 35 years old represented 48% of the furniture buyers with an average
expenditure of 892 in 2005.
- People aged between 35 and 49 years old, 30% with an expenditure of 1,356.
- People aged between 50 and 64 years old, 16% with an expenditure of 1,167.
- People aged over 65 years old, 6% with an expenditure of 1,416.
The same research reveals that 46% of furniture buyers purchased a furniture item that they
did not have before e.g. a new home cinema cabinet, new side table etc. While 21% were
replacement purchases, 16% bought furniture because they have moved or changed their
family situation (e.g. marriage or divorce); 6% bought furniture impulsively e.g. as a result of
a promotion and 11% bought furniture for other reasons.
Segmentation by style: France is a large country, and many regional styles still exist in
different parts of the country. Differences continue to exist between furniture purchasing in
urban as opposed to rural areas. Ipa estimated that in 2006 the French furniture market was
70% modern and contemporary style, while the remaining 30% was traditional and country
style. This also highlights the fact that traditional furniture continues to represent a strong
share of the market, despite the growth in contemporary or modern furniture among younger
people. More than six million households claim their home is furnished in either rustic, country
or traditional style.
Segmentation by room
This is the most commonly used means of segmenting the market. It is used widely in the
trade, partly because furniture retailers tend to present furniture ranges in the context of
where they will be used by building room sets so that consumers will more easily visualise
how the item of furniture will appear.
New homes in France are smaller in size than existing homes. These homes tend not to have
separate dining rooms. The kitchen has become a more important centre to the home and
living rooms have become more multi-functional. Changes in the size of a home, as well as
changes in the use of the home are resulting in changing demand for domestic furniture.
In terms of value, each segment is valued according to percentages outlined in Figure 1.1,
based on the total market size described in Table 1.1. Hence, dining and living room furniture
was valued at 2,804 million; upholstered seating was 2,611 million; kitchen furniture was
2,127 million; bedroom furniture was 1,160 million and other furniture was 967 million.

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CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

Figure 1.1 French domestic furniture consumption by product group,


% value, 2007
Ot her
10.0%
Bedroom
12.0%

Uphol stered
27.0%

Kitc hen
22.0%
Dini ng &
Li ving
29.0%

Source: Eurostat, Ipa (2008)


Market trends
Newly settled young couples are looking for affordable products that allow them to upgrade or
redesign their home. The rate at which furniture styles change is increasing. Retailers
introduce new ranges more frequently. As consumers want to change the look of their homes
more frequently, price has become more important in order to facilitate this trend.
Fashion purchases are becoming more important and consumers are embracing a wider range
of different furniture styles. This is a significant change as the market has traditionally catered
to planned purchases and slow changing trends.
There is greater convergence of furniture with other sectors. Most specialist retailers now sell
furniture alongside other household items. This trend encourages consumers to purchase
furniture more impulsively. Consumers for example may be encouraged to buy a chair purely
because they see a cushion fabric they like, or change a table when they buy a computer.
The environment is playing a more important part in the marketing of furniture. Many
consumers now want to see that the furniture they purchase is eco-friendly both in its design
and how it has been manufactured. This has resulted in an increase in the number of products
using lighter hardwoods and a decline in products using tropical hardwoods.
The changing composition of the French population is seeing a growth in older households on
the one hand will see an increasing demand for more comfortable furniture, while an increase
in single person households and changing use of the home, particularly more people working
from home on the other hand will see an increase in demand for multi-functional, smaller
items.
Despite alarmist voices regarding future prospects, the market was still increasing in the first
parts of 2008. The French market has been more resilient to the wider economic difficulties
affecting the EU, but growth rates will still be lower in 2008 and 2009 compared to the market
performance in 2007.
Production
Total production
The value of domestic furniture production in France was 7,069 million in 2007, representing
an average annual increase of 1.4% since 2003. This compared with a 3.1% average increase
in the EU, indicating that French furniture production was losing its relative position within the
EU, partly due to stronger growth rates in some other eastern EU Member States. France was
the fifth largest domestic furniture producer in the EU, well behind the size of the Germany

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CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

and Italian industries, but close to that of Spain and the UK. France accounted for
approximately 9% of all EU domestic furniture production in 2007.
Table 1.2 Production of domestic furniture in France, 2003-2007, million
2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

6,691

6,930

6,794

6,759

7,069

Average
ann.%
change
1.4

Number of
companies
2005
7,000

Number of
employees
2005
60,000

Source: UAE, Eurostat, Ipa (2008)

The turnover of the French industry increased by 4.6% in 2007. This has been the strongest
performance for a number of years. The industry has benefited from favourable economic
conditions but increases in interest rates are starting to have an impact. Other factors affect
the competitiveness of the French industry. These include tougher regulations on working with
wood (the amount of sawdust permissible in manufacture) and on finishing (relating to
emissions of organic compounds).
More than half of all companies employed between 20 and 49 people, as indicated by these
figures:
- companies with 20-49 people represented 58% of companies and 21% of employees
- companies with 50-99 people represented 22% of companies and 17% of employees
- companies with 100-249 people represented 14% of companies and 22% of employees
- companies with 250-499 people represented 3% of companies and 11% of employees
- companies with over 500 people represented 3% of companies and 29% of employees
30% of all companies were located in the west of France, followed by 21% in the south-east
and 14% in the east. The remaining companies were equally spread in the le de France, north
and south-west regions.
According to Eurostat, kitchen furniture was the largest segment of French domestic furniture
production, representing a 27% share, valued at 1,873 million, followed by other furniture
( 1,803 million or 26%); bedroom furniture ( 1,272 million or 18%); furniture parts
( 778 million or 11%); dining and living room furniture ( 707 million or 10%) and nonupholstered furniture ( 635 million or 9%). Eurostat does not provide information on
production of upholstered seating, but this accounted for 16% of all production in 2005. In
terms of changing trends, kitchen furniture has experienced the greatest increase in share,
followed by bedroom furniture and furniture parts, primarily at the expense of other furniture
and non-upholstered furniture.
Main and interesting players
There are a number of manufacturers that produce a wide range of furniture types and styles,
but increasingly manufacturers are specialising in particular market sectors or styles:
Roset is the leading manufacturer of contemporary furniture, which they sell under the
Ligne Roset and Cinna brands (http://www.roset.fr).
Steiner has been one of the premier furniture brands for over 80 years and today is one of
the leading manufacturers of contemporary furniture in France (http://www.steinerparis.com).
Fournier is the leading manufacturer of kitchen furniture, operating the brands Mobalpa,
Prne, SOcoo'c and Delpha (http://www.mobalpa.com).
The Gautier group has 3 production sites in France, employing over 1,000 people. Over
30% of production is exported (http://www.gautier.fr).
Groupe Jacques Parisot specialises in RTA furniture, upholstered and solid wood furniture
(http://www.parisot.com).
More manufacturers can be found at Meuble France (http://www.meublefrance.com).

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CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

Trends in production
The industry has been threatened by increases in the costs of raw materials, as well as
increases in transportation costs. This has resulted in companies striving for greater
efficiencies, primarily by concentrating into larger production units and outsourcing. While
many of the smaller manufacturers prefer to make all parts within the factory, changes are
taking place. Semi-finished parts are being imported from Italy, China and Brazil. Component
factories are in place but this is less important in France than other countries.
A further notable trend is how manufacturers are working more closely with leading players in
the distribution chain. Although some manufacturers have their own retail outlets, there is a
closer collaboration with retailers to ensure that some of the higher costs experienced by
manufacturers are more equitably shared with distributors and consumers.
The leading furniture makers are technologically advanced and are concentrating on design
and innovation. An increasing proportion of companies are owned or part-owned by foreign
investors. Co-operation is good between manufacturers and their suppliers, and the influence
of the main furniture distributors on the direction of some production is very strong.
Opportunities and threats
+ Opportunities exist for exporters from developing countries, particularly in the sectors
related to ready to assemble furniture, and contemporary furniture aimed at younger
people.
+ With the growing urban population and greater mobility, there are opportunities for
practical, flexible and multi-functional furniture that can be used in smaller accommodation
and in secondary homes.
+ Outsourcing provides opportunities for exporters from developing countries. French
manufacturers have had to adapt their systems to remain competitive. They have forged
partnerships with domestic and overseas suppliers. They will particularly appreciate input
from suppliers who can demonstrate design flair and innovation.
- However, the French have also been turning to Poland, a historical partner, for
collaborations in furniture manufacturing. This poses a threat to exporters from developing
countries.
Equally any of these trends can be an opportunity for one exporter, but a threat to another.
The outcome of this analysis will depend on the specific situation of each exporter. French
buyers are not always loyal to particular overseas suppliers, so you may lose out to a supplier
from your own country or neighbouring country.
See Chapter 7 of the EU survey The domestic furniture market in the EU for more information
on opportunities and threats.
Useful sources
The Union Nationale des Industries Franaises de LAmeublement (UNIFA) can be found at
http://www.unifa.org.
As well as production figures from Eurostat, figures can be obtained from the National
Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (http://www.insee.fr).
The Service des Etudes et des Statistiques Industrielles (SESSI) can be found at
http://www.industrie.gouv.fr/sessi/.
A web magazine for decorating trends can be reached at http://www.source-a-id.com.
Euromonitor (http://www.euromonitor.com) publishes country-specific reports on retailing,
and also focuses on the home furniture sector.
Mintel (http://www.mintel.com) has information on the structure of the French trade in its
European retail directory.
LObservateur Cetelem produces information on various markets, including furniture
(http://www.observateur-cetelem.com). Information on the furniture sector can also be
found at http://www.cession-commerce.com.

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CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

The Furniture Industry Research Institute (http://www.csilmilano.com) publishes reports


on the furniture distribution channels in France.
Details on other important trade associations can be found in Chapter 6.
Trade channels for market entry

Trade channels
Furniture distribution in France is dominated by specialists, which accounted for 84.9% of
total furniture sales in 2007, as is shown in Table 2.1. It is characterised by concentration in
large furniture chain stores and household goods stores, which sell furniture next to audio
equipment, household equipment and electronics. Within the furniture chains, the jeune
habitat with large stores in the out of town shopping centres are rapidly increasing.
This trend towards fewer but bigger outlets has an important impact on how exporters from
developing countries can access the French furniture market. There are many furniture agents
and distributors in France but their influence is reducing as more retailers buy direct from
manufacturers.
Some importers specialise in a particular type of furniture, whereas other general importers,
suffer from growing competition from large retailers. In order to survive, importers and
wholesalers have to choose between:
Creating or reinforcing their brand identity
Specialise further in terms of furniture items, styles or type of customer
Looking for or creating niches in the furniture market.
Importers, wholesalers and agents remain the most interesting trade channels for exporters
from developing countries. France is a fairly large country, so some agents and importers
may just work on a regional basis. Agents are still important in the furniture trade in France,
although their influence is diminishing. Furniture agents can be found at the Federation of
Agents (http://www.comagent.com) or from the site http://www.net-opportunity.com.
Interesting wholesalers and importers include:
Indonesia Import, located in Chennevieres sur Marne, is a company whose business is the
creation and importing of furniture from Indonesia, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Burma.
The company was founded in 1987. It makes maximum use of materials and renewable
timber (http://www.indonesia-import.fr).
La Baie dHalong, located in Cessy, deals with furniture from China, Vietnam or Indonesia.
It has an online shop (http://www.labaiedhalong.com).
La Case, located in Vendome, deals with products from Africa. It offers ethnic furniture and
has an online shop (http://www.alacase.fr).
Meubles-Teck deals with wooden furniture such as oak, beech or walnut. However, it
primarily deals in teak furniture (http://www.meubles-teck.fr).
Planete Cocoon, located in Saint Marcel, deals with objects from around the world. It offers
modern teak furniture, or wrought iron furniture. It has an online shop
(http://www.planete-cocoon.com).
The French furniture portals http://www.ameublement.com and
http://www.meublefrance.com provide good links to a number of important furniture
importers and wholesalers.
Retail trade
Furniture was sold through 7,473 outlets in 2007, of which specialists accounted for
approximately 60% of sales. However, household goods chain stores still represented one
quarter of furniture sales, but they have grown below the industry average between 2006 and
2007.
IKEA has overtaken Conforama to be the leading retailer in 2007. IKEA has 22 outlets with
sales totalling 1,782 million (http://www.ikea.com/fr). Conforama
(http://www.conforama.fr) with 188 outlets and Mobilier Europen who own three specialist

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CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

facia totalling 242 outlets, including But (http://www.but.fr), Atlas


(http://www.meublesatlas.com) and Crozatier (http://www.crozatier.com) are the next largest
retailers in this category and are represented in almost all out-of-town shopping centres in
France. Conforama have 9 million visitors per annum and sell 4 million items of furniture each
year, one million kitchens and 20% of all bedroom furniture sold in France.
Table 2.1

Share of Retail Distribution in France, 2007, % value

Outlet Type

% share

Specialists
Household goods stores (Conforama, But etc..)
Jeunes habitat (IKEA, Fly, Alina etc..)
Chain stores middle segment (Mobilier de France,
Monsieur Meuble, Atlas etc..
Chain stores higher segment (Roche Bobois,
Rost, Cina etc..
Kitchen specialists
Decorative furniture outlets
Artists, furniture workshops
Other specialists
Non-specialists
Mail order
DIY sector
Hypermarkets
Supermarkets
Others

Total

84.9%
25.6%
18.3%
14.4%

% change
vs 2006
+8.7%
+5.7%
+20.9%
+3.3%

4.4%

+4.5%

10.0%
2.4%
4.7%
5.1%
15.1%
5.6%
3.9%
1.6%
0.7%
3.3%
100%

+13.5%
+5.7%
+1.7%
+6.8%
+0.4%
-0.7%
+3.0%
-4.7%
+0.5%
+1.9%
+7.3%

Source: IPEA (2008)

Buying groups are important in the furniture sector. Maxiam is the largest group with 250
outlets, including Les Authentiques, Maxiam, Ambia, Les Docks du Meuble and Maxiliterie
(http://www.maxiam.fr). The Union Commerciale pour LEquipement Mobilier (UCEM) is also a
buying group, which includes Monsieur Meuble (http://www.monsieur-meuble.com) and
Mobiclub (http://www.mobiclub.tm.fr).
Mobilier de France with 103 outlets (http://www.mobilierdefrance.com) and Meublena are
important specialists (http://www.meublena.fr). Other chains in the category jeune habitat
are Alina with 9 outlets (http://www.alinea.fr), Habitat with 24 outlets
(http://www.habitat.net) and Story with 19 outlets. The Spanish group KA International is
well-represented with 32 outlets (http://www.kainternational.com).
Interesting outlets for exporters from developing countries, which are specialised in exotic or
colonial style furniture are Maisons du Monde with 54 outlets
(http://www.maisonsdumonde.com), Nomadis with 21 outlets (http://www.nomadis.fr), Pier
Import (113 outlets) and international oriented furnishing chains such as Casa (102 outlets)
and Ambiance et Style (82 outlets).
Trends
The influence of larger retailers continues as the trade continues to polarise and
concentrate further. Outlets targeting young consumers selling modern furniture, and
kitchen specialists have experienced the greatest increases in share.
Non-specialists are not increasing their market penetration, unlike many other EU markets.
Within the non-specialist sector, mail order represents 5.6% of the market. La Redoute
Trois Suisses (http://www.3suisses.fr) and Camif are the main
players (http://www.camif.fr). Mail order is reducing, partly due to a general increase in
Internet shopping. Many specialists now also sell online. There is a trend to consumers visiting

(http://www.laredoute.fr),

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CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

stores, and then making the actual purchase online, sometimes at the site of the retailer they
visited, sometimes not.
The DIY sector is growing but at rates lower than the average for the sector. This is led by
Castorama (98 outlets), Bricomarch (529 outlets), Mr. Bricolage (388 outlets) and in the
middle-higher segment Lapeyre (110 outlets) and Leroy Merlin (105 outlets). This sector tends
to be highly price sensitive. Hypermarkets are losing position in the furniture market.
Carrefour (192 outlets), Auchan (120 outlets), Gant (128 outlets) and LeClerc (96 outlets)
dominate the market. Many hypermarkets do their own importing and have production outsourced abroad.
Additional information on distribution channels in France can be found at the sites of the
Institute of Furniture Promotion (http://www.ipea.fr) and at the French Furniture Retailing
Federation (http://www.fnaem.fr).
Price structure
Due to pressure from low cost imports, margins throughout the furniture supply chain have
been under pressure. This has led to intensified competition between furniture retailers. Many
wholesalers have ceased to trade as well as retailers.
Table 2.2

Overview of margins in domestic furniture


Low

High

Importers/wholesalers' margins
Agents' margins
Retailers' margins

20%
10%
80%

35%
15%
100%

Multiples Export price - Consumer price

2.6

3.5

In each trade channel different margins and prices apply, with a total mark-up (including VAT)
of 2.6 up to 3.5 of the Cost Including Freight (CIF) price, depending on which channel the
furniture items are sold through. The margin figures quoted in Table 2.2 are calculated as a
percentage of the price purchased from whom they buy in the chain, not as a percentage of
the CIF price. VAT of 19.6% is added to the retail sale of furniture.
Generally speaking, higher margins are applied in specialist independent retailers and lower
margins will be found in large retailers, particularly non-specialist retailers. You may find that
some retailers that deal exclusively via the Internet may operate with lower margins, as they
do not carry the same overheads as traditional retailers.
More information can be found in Chapter 3.2 of the CBI market survey The domestic furniture
market in the EU. An example of a calculation of a final consumer price, including import
duties is given in Table 3.2.
Selecting a suitable trading partner
This is a very important part of the export process. The relationship and rapport you can
establish between yourself and your partner is as important as finding a contact that is suitable
for you in terms of the range of products that you can supply. The essential element of any
trading relationship is trust. You must satisfy yourself that you will be happy to deal with the
organisation in question over a long period. Your own judgement and instincts are most
important in this respect.
The best way to find a trade partner is usually to contact the main trade sources. The National
Union of Furniture Industries and the Furniture Retailing Federation are important contacts (see
Chapter 6 for contact details). The best place to meet potential trading partners is at a furniture
trade fair. Meuble Paris is the biggest fair, and details are listed in Chapter 6.

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CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

Participating in trade fairs can be expensive, so it would be better to first visit an exhibition a
few times before making a commitment. During a visit, you can have a good look at the stands
of the main players and get a better idea of the latest trends. At trade shows, you have an
opportunity to talk to potential partners on a face-to-face basis and better judge whether you
would like to work with them. You could also identify potential partners from the exhibition
website beforehand or from a catalogue. When selecting them (e.g. importer or wholesaler)
try to find out:
What furniture they sell (focused on material, style or price).
To which target groups they sell.
In which areas of France they are well represented. If they are exporting, to which
other EU countries they sell.
To whom they sell e.g. small or large retailers, department stores, mail order etc.
You could also find this out by looking at their website or try to find a company profile through
other hosted sites e.g. of a local Business Support Organisation (BSO) or trading platform, or
by finding their company brochure. You can contact interesting trade partners by mail or email
and follow up by phone a few weeks later. See also Chapter 3.1.3 of the CBI Export manual
Exporting to the EU.
Although you may initiate a communication by post or email, it is recommended that there is
some personal communication before a trading partner is selected. Personal communication is
still the most important form of communication. This communication can include sending
samples, inviting them to see your production facilities, and other meaningful ways of gaining
and maintaining their interest.
You should also do a credit check of your potential trade partner, especially when an
investment from your side is required. This credit check could be carried out by a specialist
company such as Dun and Bradstreet (http://www.dnb.com). A bank usually does not give
credit ratings of its customers.
In this regard, you could also contact Business Support Organisations in France or the
commercial department of your own embassy to see if they have any useful contacts. They
may even have some knowledge of contacts you may have made independently. The French
Chamber of Commerce could be a good source of general advice (http://www.cci.fr).
3

Trade: imports and exports

Imports
Total imports
In 2007, France imported domestic furniture valued at 5.05 billion, or 1,861 thousand
tonnes. This accounted for 14% of all EU imports by value and by volume. This represented an
average annual increase in value of 8.2% since 2003 from 3.68 billion (11% in volume from
1,244 thousand tonnes). France was the third largest importer of domestic furniture by value
and volume (after Germany and the UK). In value and volume terms, their imports are close to
the UK.
This growth in imports contrasted with a 2.6% growth in exports. Import values were 2.5
times bigger than export values and well over three times the size of export volumes.
Production in France has been increasing recently, so re-exporting was not a significant factor.
At the same time, the consumer market has been showing an above average annual increase
over the period. Despite the large domestic industry, imports are taking an increasing share of
the market. They are growing more quickly than domestic consumption.
Around 21% of French imports by value ( 1,061 million) came from developing countries and
26% (477 thousand tonnes) by volume. Italy was the largest supplier (19.4% of total value
imports and 13.6% of total volume imports), with supplies valued at 979 million or 253
thousand tonnes. The next largest supplier was Germany (13.9% of total value imports and
15.1% of total volume imports), with supplies valued at 701 million or 281 thousand

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CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

tonnes). The next two largest suppliers to France were Poland and China. Poland had supplies
valued at 459 million, or 218 thousand tonnes (9.1% of value and 11.7% of volume). China
had supplies valued at 444 million, or 209 thousand tonnes (8.8% of value and 11.2% of
volume).
The share of supplies by developing countries was up from 18% in value ( 654 million) in
2003, and up from 23% in volume terms (from 285 thousand tonnes). Supplies from China,
the leading developing country supplier have increased by an annual average of 27% (22% by
volume) over the period from 172 million (95 thousand tonnes), while Indonesias supplies
have increased by an average of 2.1% per annum by value and 1.8% by volume. Supplies
from Belgium and Spain were marginally up. Meanwhile, supplies from Brazil were down, while
supplies from Vietnam, Malaysia and Tunisia were up in value.
Imports by product group
The five selected product groups are shown in this table in detail. Import values of other
product groups are mentioned in the text for completeness.
Table 3.1
Product
Total
domestic
furniture

Furniture
parts

Other
furniture

Dining/living
room
furniture

Imports by and leading suppliers to France


2003 - 2007, share in % of value
2003
2005
2007
Leading suppliers in 2007
Share
mln
mln
mln
Share in %
(%)
2,445
3,369
3,876 Intra EU: Italy (19.4%), Germany
76.8
(13.9%), Poland (9.1%), Belgium (7.2%),
Spain (6.6%)
2.2
583
237
108 Extra EU ex. DC*: USA (0.5%), Russia
(0.4%), Switzerland (0.2%), Taiwan
(0.2%), Japan (0.1%)
21.0
654
905
1,061 DC*: China (8.8%), Indonesia (2.2%),
Vietnam (1.9%), Brazil (1.6%), Tunisia
(1.6%), Malaysia (1.1%), India (0.8%),
Turkey (0.5%), Croatia (0.3%), Belarus
(0.3%)
708
1,087
1,191 Intra EU: Germany (17.7%), Italy
88.5
(16.2%), Poland (14.1%), Portugal
(9.8%), Spain (9.4%)
227
40
23 Extra EU ex. DC*: USA (0.7%), Russia
1.7
(0.3%), Taiwan (0.3%), Japan (0.2%),
Switzerland (0.1%)
9.8
132
126
132 DC*: Tunisia (4.4%), China (2.7%),
Turkey (1.1%), Croatia (0.7%), Malaysia
(0.3%), Bosnia Herzegovina (0.2%),
Morocco (0.1%), India (0.1%), Vietnam
(0.1%), Indonesia (0.1%)
65.5
446
641
763 Intra EU: Germany (12.1%), Italy
(10.4%), Poland (8.9%), Belgium (7.8%),
Spain (7.1%)
108
58
54 Extra EU ex. DC*: USA (1.8%),
4.6
Switzerland (0.9%), Russia (0.9%),
Canada (0.2%), Taiwan (0.1%)
29.9
181
259
348 DC*: China (10.0%), Indonesia (6.1%),
Vietnam (5.0%), Brazil (2.8%), India
(2.6%), Malaysia (0.6%), Thailand (0.5%),
Croatia (0.4%), Bosnia Herzegovina
(0.2%), Turkey (0.1%)
75.9
238
318
401 Intra EU: Italy (15.0%), Belgium (10.9%),
Romania (9.1%), Poland (7.5%), Portugal
(6.5%)
125
74
6 Extra EU ex. DC*: Russia (0.4%), USA
1.2
(0.4%), Switzerland (0.1%), Hong Kong
(0.1%), Taiwan
91
123
121 DC*: China (8.2%), Brazil (3.4%),
22.9

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Page 10 of 16

CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

Product

Nonupholstered
seating

Rattan
furniture

2003
mln

2005
mln

2007
mln

194

242

292

33

15

87

143

166

48

47

55

13

10

39

50

57

Leading suppliers in 2007


Share in %
Indonesia (3.4%), India (1.6%), Belarus
(1.5%), Vietnam (1.2%), Tunisia (1.0%),
Malaysia (0.9%)Egypt (0.3%), Thailand
(0.2%)
Intra EU: Italy (18.8%), Belgium (8.7%),
Germany (6.0%), Portugal (5.8%), Poland
(5.5%)
Extra EU ex. DC*: Russia (0.7%), Israel
(0.5%), USA (0.3%), Taiwan (0.2%),
Switzerland (0.1%)
DC*: China (19.1%), Vietnam (6.6%),
Indonesia (5.0%), Malaysia (1.2%), India
(0.6%), Brazil (0.5%), Thailand (0.3%),
Chile (0.3%), Thailand (0.3%), Turkey
(0.3%)
Intra EU: Italy (19.0%), Spain (10.5%),
Belgium (8.1%), Germany (3.5%), The
Netherlands (2.0%)
Extra EU ex. DC*: USA (1.9%), United
Arab Emirates (0.5%), Taiwan (0.5%),
Canada (0.3%), Switzerland (0.2%)
DC*: China (18.5%), Indonesia (15.4%),
Vietnam (7.5%), Philippines (1.6%),
Malaysia (1.2%), Morocco (1.2%), Turkey
(1.0%), Thailand (0.7%), India (0.5%),
Tunisia (0.5%)

Share
(%)

62.7
1.7
35.6

46.6%
5.4
48.0

Source: Eurostat (2008)


*Developing Countries

Furniture parts
This was the largest of the selected product groups. Valued at 1,347 million in 2007 (379
thousand tonnes), this represented 27% of all domestic furniture imports to France (20% by
volume). This compared with a share of 29% in 2003 (21% by volume or 258 thousand
tonnes). Hence this product group was marginally decreasing in significance in its value and
volume contribution to imports. Intra-EU trade represented 88% of the value of supply (90%
by volume), and this has increased in value from 66% and in volume from 70% in 2003. The
Italian and German shares decreased since 2003. The shares of imports by Poland, Portugal
and Spain all increased, in particular those of Poland and Portugal.
Developing country suppliers represented 9.8% of all imports by value (7.8% by volume or 30
thousand tonnes), down from 12% ( 132 million) in 2003, but up from 7.4% by volume or 19
thousand tonnes. Tunisia ( 59 million or 4 thousand tonnes) was the leading developing
country supplier of furniture parts. Tunisias share was unchanged from 2003. Of the other
developing country suppliers, values from China and Malaysia increased while values from
Turkey and Croatia decreased.
In terms of product groups, other parts of seats represented 57% of the product group ( 764
million or 121 thousand tonnes, down from 65% in 2003), while wooden parts of furniture
were 22% ( 295 million or 160 thousand tonnes), metal parts of furniture were 13% ( 174
million or 59 thousand tonnes), other parts of furniture were 7.4% and wooden parts of seats
were 1.1%.
Other furniture
This was the second largest product group. Valued at 1,165 million in 2007 (591 thousand
tonnes), this represented 23% of all domestic furniture imports to France (32% by volume).
This compared with a share of 20% in 2003 (27% by volume or 338 thousand tonnes). Hence,
this product group was increasing in significance in its value but decreasing in its volume
contribution to imports. Intra-EU trade dominated the value supply (65% by value and 66% by

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Page 11 of 16

CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

volume), and this has increased in value from 61% and in volume from 55% in 2003. The
German and Italian shares of imports decreased from 2003, while of the other leading intra-EU
importers, the Spanish and Belgian shares of imports were also down, but the Polish share
increased significantly.
Developing country suppliers represented 30% of all imports by value (32% by volume or 187
thousand tonnes), up from 25% ( 181 million) in 2003, and up from 28% by volume or 94
thousand tonnes. China ( 117 million or 95 thousand tonnes) was the leading developing
country supplier of other furniture. However, whereas the value of Chinas supplies increased
by an annual average of 20% over the period, values from Indonesia increased by 19%,
values from Brazil increased by 3.8%, but values from Vietnam increased by 37%.
In terms of product groups, other wooden furniture at 670 million (386 thousand tonnes)
represented 58% of the value of all other furniture (up marginally from 57% in 2003); other
metal furniture ( 376 million or 155 thousand tonnes) accounted for 32% and other plastic
furniture ( 119 million or 50 thousand tonnes) accounted for 10%.
Dining/living room furniture
Dining/living room furniture was valued at 528 million in 2007 (225 thousand tonnes). This
represented 10% of all domestic furniture imports to France (12% by volume). This compared
with a share of 12% in 2003 (16% by volume or 200 thousand tonnes). Hence, this product
group was decreasing in significance in its value and volume contribution to imports. Intra-EU
trade represented 76% of the value and 72% of the volume supply, and this has increased in
value from 52% and in volume from 41% in 2003. The Italian, Belgian, Portuguese and Polish
shares increased, while the Romanian share decreased.
Developing country suppliers represented 23% of all imports by value (27% by volume or 61
thousand tonnes), up from 20% ( 91 million) in value and 23% by volume or 46 thousand
tonnes in 2003. China ( 43 million or 23 thousand tonnes) was the leading developing
country supplier of dining/living room furniture, up an annual average of 24% from 2003,
while Indonesias share fell by 6.1%. Supplies from the other leading developing country
suppliers all increased, especially Vietnam and India.
Non-upholstered seating
This was the next largest of the selected product groups. Valued at 466 million in 2007 (156
thousand tonnes), this represented 9.2% of all domestic furniture imports to France (8.4% by
volume). This compared with a share of 8.5% in 2003 (8.9% by volume or 111 thousand
tonnes). Hence, this product group was marginally increasing in significance in its value but
decreasing in its volume contribution to imports. Intra-EU trade represented 63% of the value
supply (54% by volume), and this increased in value from 62% and from 52% in volume in
2003. Germany and Poland increased their shares over the period, as did Belgium and Portugal
to a lesser extent, while Italy saw a significant fall in its share of imports.
Developing country suppliers represented almost 36% of all imports by value (45% by volume
or 70 thousand tonnes), up from 28% ( 87 million) in value, and from 37% by volume or 41
thousand tonnes in 2003. China ( 89 million or 41 thousand tonnes) dominated the
developing country supply of non-upholstered seating. China increased its share by an annual
average of 32% since 2003. Of the other developing country suppliers, values from Vietnam
increased significantly, but supplies from Indonesia and Malaysia increased only marginally.
In terms of product groups, seats with wooden frames accounted for 33% of the group ( 156
million or 53 thousand tonnes); metal seats were valued at 129 million (51 thousand
tonnes); other seats were valued at 129 million (32 thousand tonnes) and seats convertible
into beds were 51 million (20 thousand tonnes). There was a major move towards metal
seats, particularly away from wooden seats. The share of seats convertible into beds and other
seats also increased.

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Page 12 of 16

CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

Rattan furniture
Rattan furniture was valued at 118 million in 2007 (51 thousand tonnes). This represented
2.3% of all domestic furniture imports to France (2.7% by volume). This compared with a
share of 2.7% in 2003 (2.9% by volume or 36 thousand tonnes). Hence, this product group
was marginally decreasing in significance in its value and volume contribution to imports.
Intra-EU trade represented over 46% of the value supply, but 33% by volume. The intra-EU
share increased from 39% in value and 30% in volume in 2003. The shares of imports from
the leading intra-EU suppliers increased, Spain in particular.
Developing country suppliers represented 48% of all imports by value (65% by volume) or 33
thousand tonnes, up from 47% ( 48 million) in value and from 64% by volume or 23
thousand tonnes in 2003. China ( 22 million or 17 thousand tonnes) was the leading
developing country supplier of rattan furniture, followed by Indonesia, which was the leading
value (but not volume) supplier in 2003. Chinas share of imports was up from 12% in 2003.
Vietnam increased its share at the expense of the Philippines.
Rattan furniture represented 83% of this product group ( 98 million or 43 thousand tonnes),
a share that has increased since 2003. Rattan seats represented a diminishing share,
accounting for 20 million or 8 thousand tonnes in 2007.
Other product groups
The values of other product groups not selected were as follows in 2007: upholstered seating
( 788 million or 145 thousand tonnes), kitchen furniture ( 358 million or 156 thousand
tonnes) and bedroom furniture ( 276 million or 157 thousand tonnes).
Exports
In 2007, France exported domestic furniture valued at 1.95 billion, or 536 thousand tonnes.
This represented an average annual increase of 2.6% in value and an increase of 6.2% in
volume since 2003.
In 2007, France was the fourth largest exporter by value, after Italy, Germany and Poland, but
the sixth largest by volume, also after Denmark and Sweden. It was well behind the top three
in value, but close to Denmark. It was close to Belgium in volume. 70% of French exports by
value were intra-EU (82% by volume), the majority of which went to Spain and Germany,
followed by Belgium and the UK.
In terms of product groups, furniture parts accounted for 30% by value ( 583 million or
141 thousand tonnes), down from 34% in 2003. The main destinations were Spain, Germany,
Portugal, Belgium and the UK. The next largest group of exports was other furniture, which
accounted for 25% of all exports ( 497 million or 205 thousand tonnes), up from 23% in
2003. Spain was the main destination.
Dining/living room furniture represented 15% of all exports ( 291 million). This was up from
14% in 2003. USA, Spain, the UK and Switzerland were the leading destinations, followed by
Germany. Upholstered seating was the next largest product group of exports at 9.7% ( 189
million).
The remaining groups of exports were as follows: non-upholstered seating ( 161 million),
bedroom furniture ( 121 million), kitchen furniture ( 81 million) then rattan furniture
( 27 million).
Opportunities and threats
+ France is an interesting market for exporters from developing countries. Traditionally
France has had a strong domestic furniture industry, but despite its size this has suffered
recently with increasing lower priced imports. However, this is a mature market and
sophisticated consumers are looking for interesting imported products.

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Page 13 of 16

CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

The fact that the value share of imports from developing countries was up over the period
while the volume share was up even more indicates downward pressure on prices.
Exporters should take care not to trade at a loss or with unsustainably low margins over a
prolonged period. This may be justifiable for a limited period to gain market entry, but it is
neither advisable nor feasible to trade in this way in the long run.
+ Other furniture was the best performing group of imports and most opportunities could be
found here. There were also increased opportunities with non-upholstered seating.
- There are wide differences in the performance of the various product groups. Furniture
parts was the largest group, but its relative share was down over the period. Similar
decreases in share were experienced by dining/living room and rattan furniture.
+

It is also important to note that an opportunity for one developing country can also be a threat
to another. Many EU countries switch country sources purely for competitive advantage, rather
than moving supplier because of changes in demand for other reasons. Exporters should read
carefully the trends and developments outlined in other parts of this survey before establishing
whether France offers a genuine export opportunity.
See also Chapter 7 of the CBI market survey The domestic furniture market in the EU for a
more general analysis.
Useful sources
EU Expanding Exports Helpdesk

http://exporthelp.europa.eu/
go to: trade statistics
Eurostat official statistical office of the EU

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu;
go to themes on the left side of the home page
go to external trade
go to data full view
go to external trade - detailed data
Understanding eurostat: Quick guide to easy comext

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/newxtweb/assets/User_guide_Easy_Comext_20080117.pdf
4

Price developments

Furniture prices in France were close to the EU average, according to a report published by
Eurostat in 2007. The price level index was 99 compared to the EU average of 100. The price
index in France was similar to that in Portugal, Sweden and Belgium.
Furniture price increases in France were just below the EU average. Prices increased by 0.9%
in 2006 and 1.8% in 2007, compared to the EU average of 0.7% in 2006 and 2.1% in 2007.
Prices of furniture in France were increasing more slowly than other prices in 2006, but more
quickly in 2007. The all-price index in France increased by 1.9% in 2006 and 1.6% in 2007.
Consumer prices of various furniture items vary widely, depending on the market segment or
type of retailer. The following Table 4.1 highlights the price differences between similar types
of products. It can be seen that for double beds and side tables, prices at the specialist retailer
Crosatier are considerably higher than that of other more mainstream furniture retailers. It is
difficult to make direct comparisons between different EU countries, but IKEA prices in France
were higher than the EU average for the same products.
Table 4.1

Comparative retail prices of furniture in France, October 2008

Retailer
Atlas
IKEA
Conforama
Crosatier
Source: Retailer websites

Double bed
Gala 249
Aspelund 119
Coloniale 279
Screen 2,390

Side table
Jersey 389
Stockholm 199
Opium 149
Edge 759

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Page 14 of 16

CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

Although the industry does not make price agreements based on tonnage, it is useful to see
how import prices compare. The downward trend in import prices has continued, although
developing country import prices were unchanged since 2005. As Table 4.2 highlights,
developing country import prices were 20% less than intra-EU prices. This may explain the
trend to more purchases from developing countries. Import prices to France were slighly below
the EU average. Please note these trends should be interpreted with care, as changes in
imports do not always reflect changes in demand.
Table 4.2

Development in French average import values/prices, 2003 - 2007


2003
ave price
per 000
tonnes

Total imports
Intra-EU
Developing countries
Source: Eurostat (2008)

2005
ave price
per 000
tonnes

2007
ave price
per 000
tonnes

ave. Annual
% change

2.78
3.00
2.23

2.71
2.86
2.23

-2.2
-4.2
-0.8

2.96
3.40
2.30

Consumer price indices can be found on the French National Statistical website
(http://www.insee.fr). The Bank of France also provides some pricing information
(http://www.banque-france.fr). More details on the consumer prices provided above can be
found at the retailer websites of Atlas (http://www.atlas-meubles.fr), IKEA
(http://www.ikea.com/fr), Conforama (http://www.conforama.fr) and Crozatier
(http://www.crozatier.com).
5

Market access requirements

As a manufacturer in a developing country preparing to access France, you should be aware of


the market access requirements of your trading partners and the French government.
Requirements are demanded through legislation and through labels, codes and management
systems. These requirements are based on environmental, consumer health and safety and
social concerns. You need to comply with EU legislation and have to be aware of the additional
non-legislative requirements that your trading partners in the EU might request.
For information on legislative and non-legislative requirements, go to Search CBI database at
http://www.cbi.eu/marketinfo, select domestic furniture and France in the category search,
click on the search button and click on market access requirements.
Quality requirements
Quality requirements in France are almost identical to the European Norms (EN) that have
replaced national standards (NF Ameublement). You can check at the Wood and Furniture
Technical Centre (CTBA) which standards are relevant for your product. Many standards are
on safety and give rules and test guidelines for raw material and for furniture items (e.g.
beds or childrens furniture) for normal use and for long-term use.
Social and environmental related market requirements are of growing importance in France
and may be requested by French buyers through certificates (e.g. ISO 14001, EMAS) and
management systems.
In France the FSC label is not as well recognised as in other EU countries. Instead,
furniture or wood with a PEFC label (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification
schemes) is more popular, especially by DIY stores such as Castorama and Leroy Merlin.
Additional information on packaging can be found at the website of ITC on export packaging:
http://www.intracen.org/ep/packit.htm.
Information on tariffs and quota can be found at http://exporthelp.europa.eu/.

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Page 15 of 16

CBI MARKET SURVEY: THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE MARKET IN FRANCE

Doing business

Information
General information on doing business like approaching potential business partners, building
up a relationship, drawing up an offer, handling the contract (methods of payment, and terms
of delivery) can be found in CBIs export manuals Export Planner and Your image builder.
Furthermore cultural awareness is a critical skill in securing success as an exporter.
Information on cultural differences in the EU can be found in Chapter 3 of CBIs export manual
Exporting to the EU. These manuals can be downloaded from http://www.cbi.eu/marketinfo go to search publications.
Developing a relationship
The most important ways to develop a business relationship are to either exhibit at one of the
main furniture trade fairs, or to make a direct approach to wholesalers or major retailers. In
France, many business people still prefer a formal style of communication, both in the way
a presentation is put together, and in the way contact is made. A very aggressive price
driven approach will not be effective, although price is very important in the French market. It
is also important to appreciate from the outset the importance of retaining your customers.
Many buyers are not always loyal and it is much easier to lose a customer than to find a new
one.
Trade Fairs
The main trade fair for the furniture industry in France is called Meuble Paris, which takes
place each January. Maison & Objet takes place each September. Details of each can be found
at http://www.meuble-paris.net. Other fairs include Journes dOctobre in Mulhouse
(http://www.parcexpo.fr), the Home Furnishing Show in Toulouse in September
(http://www.toulousexpo.com) and the Home Decoration Show in Paris each May
(http://www.comexposium.com).
Promotion
Advertising in trade magazines can sometimes be an effective means of reaching a small
target group. The main trade publication for the furniture industry is Le Courrier du Meuble,
published by Editions du Tigre, which also produces an annual Furniture Review
(http://courrierdumeuble.fr/index.php). France Ameublement is an annual directory for the
furniture industry (http://www.franceameublement.fr).
Having a website
Being online is fundamental, especially when taking into account that trust and credibility are
major challenges for DC exporters, a good website can overcome this issue. A website offering
well-defined products, competitive advantages (e.g. USP, quality, cost reduction and delivery
reliability) and a list of other customers helps create a trusting environment.
Useful sources
The main trade associations for this sector are the National Union of Furniture Industries
(http://www.unifa.org) and the Furniture Retailing Federation (http://www.fnaem.fr). Some
French manufacturers featured may be looking to develop relationships with developing
country exporters. Other useful contacts include:
The French Furniture portal http://www.mobilier.com or http://www.ameublement.com.
The Institute of Furniture Promotion http://www.ipea.fr.
The Wood and Furniture Technical Centre http://www.ctba.fr.
French Furniture Exporters (http://www.thefrenchfurniture.com).
This survey was compiled for CBI by Searce
Disclaimer CBI market information tools: http://www.cbi.eu/disclaimer

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Page 16 of 16