Demand is stabilising
"The end of 2023 has seen us once again attain three-quarter sales volumes on par with those back in 2019, but we were on a path of growth even back then. This year, geopolitical events, and the impact of energy prices and rising inflation, with interest rates raised by central banks to contain the situation, have brought about a drop in consumption. Right now, production levels have stabilised, and we expect a more pronounced increase halfway through next year, or in the second half of it" said Raimonda Kižienė, the CEO of SBA Home, which unites 4 SBA furniture manufacturing companies in Lithuania.
The SBA Home companies export products to 50 countries worldwide; this means that the production volumes in Lithuania will depend on the development of the global economy and buyers' expectations in foreign markets – the situation is a tense one. According to Ms Kižienė, there will be many factors influencing aggregate demand, including the recent tragic attacks in the Middle East and the further dynamics of the situation; the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine; and changes in energy prices; and finally, the question of how cold the winter will be.
Klaipėdos Baldai sold 75.8 million EUR worth of products over the first three quarters of this year – 12% less than last year. Visagino Linija and Šilutės Baldai generated about a third less revenue – 48.5 million EUR and 26.5 million EUR respectively. In the Klaipėda region, Inno Line maintained its 14% growth, selling 101.4 million EUR worth of furniture over the first nine months of this year.
Looking for staff
R. Kižienė has said that, despite the tensions, businesses are expecting the next economic upturn to meet increased demand, which is recovering quickly.
"At the moment, one of our priorities is to attract employees. There is a shortage of the right kind of people in the labour market. We are looking for plant operators, electricians, automation technicians and people with similar skills. But educational institutions either do not train them or the number of graduates does not meet the demand, so we train them by investing in them," said Ms Kižienė.
For example, Inno Line near Klaipėda or Visaginas Linija organises transportation for employees from neighbouring towns, and in the company, they are trained in the necessary skills and learn how to use the equipment. According to Kižienė, training a high-skilled professional to work independently takes a few weeks to a few months.
The SBA Group's furniture manufacturing companies employ a total of 2,750 people. In 2022, they sold 389 million EUR worth of products.
The SBA Group operates in the furniture, textiles, real estate and investment management sectors. It exports its products to 50 countries worldwide, with its consolidated group sales amounting to 438.8 million EUR in 2022.