Italian design seduces Russia

The future of the Italian furniture industry will depend to a great extent on the Russian market. Moscow is in fact one of the main trade partners of our sector, thanks to the growth of an affluent class and a taste that favours Italian design, whether traditional or experimental.

The Russian Federation is one of the most attractive export areas for the Italian wood furnishing industry.  Trade between the two countries has continued to grow since 2008 and has been further boosted in recent years by companies operating in decentralized regions where there is a demand for suppliers and partners in the sectors of home and office furnishings, surface finishes, bathrooms and lighting fixtures.

For many years, Italy has been one of the leading furniture exporters to Russia, a market that absorbs almost 10% of our country’s wood furnishing exports. In 2013 Italy exported furnishings and associated materials to Russia for a value of 589 million Euros, representing this country’s second supplier after China. While, on one hand, there has been a general contraction in these values, our country has nevertheless maintained its leadership, confirming its position as the second supplier of furniture and lighting fixtures and the fourth for ceramic ware. Targeting the higher end of the market, Italian products are displayed in numerous local showrooms. Mono brand sales points opened by the most prestigious Italian companies are also becoming more widespread (source: Ice).

Russia continues to be a land of opportunity owing to the fact that Russians love the Made in Italy cachet and also because the government is making significant real estate investments.

As well as food produce, fashion and mechanics, the perception Russians have of Italian products is very much associated with design. A successful penetration of this market is tantamount to paving the way to other fast-growing countries of the former URSS, such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

Despite strong competition from China, Italian exports have also generated some impressive figures in 2014, especially thanks to the demand expressed by the “new rich”, who are attentive towards the trends, novelties and experimental aspects of the industry.  Alongside the traditional style, which continues to seduce with its solid wood furniture and sumptuous forms, more daring and eccentric styles, such as vintage and high-tech, are becoming increasingly popular with the affluent classes.  Traditional furnishings, however, continue to be a reassuring evergreen, a reality that mainly transpires from the choice of Italian lighting fixtures or furnishing fabrics of traditional Russian taste.  In the meantime, environmental concerns are starting to emerge also in the countries of the Federation, stimulating a demand for eco-friendly furniture and fabrics (source: Indaco, International Business Developer).

Meanwhile, China, Italy’s main competitor on the international furniture market, is anxious to strengthen its position in Russia. The chairman of the association of Chinese furniture producers (CNFA) Zu Changling has announced that their enterprises are evaluating manufacturing opportunities in the ex Soviet Union, which represents one of the ten most important buyers of Chinese furniture today.  Zu Changling believes that there are good prospects for a possible collaboration between Russia and China on the production and distribution of furniture products (source: Ice Russia).

A crucial element of Italian exports to Russia continues to be represented by the complex paperwork and customs regulations.  In this respect, the new regulation TR 025/2012 on furniture safety is about to come into force; adopted by the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, it will replace the Gost certificate.  According to Federlegno, the regulation contains some controversial points, with regard to its requisites, in particular