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Furniture business faces tough times

Furniture imports into Finland are growing, and exports of domestic produce waning. In uncertain economic times, domestic consumers are also putting off new purchases.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

An estimated 60 percent of furniture sold in Finland comes from abroad, leaving a very limited market for home-grown companies. According to an upcoming furniture business report, most products are imported from Sweden and Estonia, with China coming in third.

Imports have increased and exports waned for years.

According to Arto Tiitinen, CEO of one of Finland’s biggest companies in the field, Isku, low export figures are due to the small size of furniture companies here, as well as problems in product development and marketing.

Tiitinen advocates focusing on design, and producing high-quality items with hefty prize-tags, instead of shipping out bulk.

Looking further afield

Due to the weak domestic market, growth seems to lie in exports. The majority of furniture shipped out of the country goes to Sweden, with Russia coming in as a close second.

Isku is also looking further afield, with plans to set up a subsidiary company in Dubai.

The Isku CEO notes that in the region, Saudi Arabia is using Finnish expertise in its five billion euro program to restructure its education system. Isku is looking to cash in here with products designed for learning environments – as well as hoping to supply hospitals and offices in the future.

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