The output of Bulgaria’s furniture and wood processing firms surged almost 30% and exports rose by around BGN 200 million annually before the crisis broke, the industry chamber said. Furniture manufacturers increased production by 30% and wood processors registered a 16% growth in 2007. In the face of the crisis, they remained almost intact by October 2008 and managers hope 2008 would turn out a successful year.
Exports topped BGN 200 million in 2007, up from BGN 184 million in the year before. Furniture makers ship almost a third of their output, with their main markets Germany, the UK and France. Wood processing plants sell in Italy, Macedonia and Turkey.
The sectors’ healthy growth was underpinned by hefty investments, said chamber chairman Kalin Simeonov. In 2006 the companies put BGN 110 million into production capacity upgrades and new factory openings. The investment reached BGN 140 million in 2007. EU funds will be also tapped for business makeovers as around half of the companies plan to apply for funding, according to preliminary information.
The Bulgarian furniture and wood processing industries nourish around 4,000 companies, many of them small and medium-sized. Professional skills are still a major challenge and so the chamber is preparing joint projects with German international cooperation enterprise for sustainable development GTZ.