Manufacturers more pessimistic about trade while skills shortages ease  

Optimism about the trading environment is fading amongst British furniture manufacturers, according to the latest British Furniture Manufacturers survey.

Covering over 4,000 employees, the BFM’s Trade & Price Trends Survey primarily looks at the last six months trade to October this year and future expectations, mapping out the key factors in the industry including employment, output, costs, material prices and export.

The survey is conducted twice a year and gives a clear indication of the opportunities and challenges BFM members anticipate for the coming six months.

A negative balance of -21% reported that they were more pessimistic than in April this year and -32% said that trade was worse than 12 months ago. Negative results were also reported for order intake and the volume of output.

On a more positive note, raw material prices were considered less than 6 months ago by a balance of 11%, although labour and overhead cost pressures were still at a comparatively high level, recording figures of +74% and +47% respectively.  It is worth remembering that in September 2022, prices were up on the year by 12% and not long prior to that by over 20% for a consistent period.  37% of companies still reported moderate or significant problems in recruiting skilled labour.

Commenting on the survey, where a full version of the document is available to BFM members, Phil Spademan, BFM MD, said: “The latest Trade and Price Trends Survey reveals a dip in optimism from respondents, with predictions for the next six months remaining in the negative for expected output and orders. However, skill shortages were not as pronounced as in recent surveys.”

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