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The EFA Index provides an unfiltered view of the industry

 

The EFA Index provides an unfiltered view of the industry. How is the market developing? What problems are becoming apparent in the industry? What are the challenges awaiting sales? Working in collaboration with the Kachelofen & Kamin trade journal, the European Fireplaces Association (EFA) has carried out the EFA Index survey once again in time for the beginning of the season. The survey is an instrument that gives companies working in the fireplaces industry a reliable overview of the market situation and that allows them to assess their performance compared to the rest of the industry.

The EFA Index is based on a scientific online survey, the answers to which are statistically analysed. The highest priority in the process is the absolute anonymity of respondents, so that a neutral and unreserved picture of the situation can emerge. After the establishment phase over the course of this year, the pilot project became a regular operation, and it will produce figures gathered by means of a constant method in future. This will make it possible to measure developments within the industry over time and to provide valuable insights.

The actual EFA Index is calculated from the average values of the answers to a total of 16 questions. These include questions on issues such as market situation, demand, price levels and the competitive situation.

The EFA Index is currently at 2.477.

On the Index scale, the value can be between 1 (negative sentiment) and 3 (positive sentiment).

The EFA survey

What is the sentiment at the beginning of the season?
The value 2 marks the centre. If the EFA Index is above 2, it means that there is a positive sentiment in the market. If it is below 2, it means that there is a negative sentiment.

The results reveal a slight rise on the figure in spring, when the value was 2.197. Qualified sociologist Friedrich Allendorff, EFA Board Member and Scientific Project Lead, puts the rise down to the natural annual cycle of the industry on the one hand, and to a positive underlying trend in the industry on the other: “As an association we are noticing a cautious optimism in the industry – even if we are naturally still a long way from achieving the old records.”

91 per cent of survey respondents rate their business situation as satisfactory or good.

That is six percentage points higher than in spring. 91 per cent also indicated that price levels this year are at least the same or have risen. That is an increase of four percentage points on spring 2017. Only 14 per cent of respondents expect demand to drop in future, while that figure was one-third in spring.

The assessment of the competitive situation remained almost the same. 42.3 per cent expect increased competition (spring 2017: 44.3 per cent).

The percentage of respondents who are dissatisfied with their industry remains low at only 14 per cent.

Survey participants were also asked whether they consider European association work useful. The result is telling, and validates the engagement of all involved with the European Fireplaces Association: only 5 per cent consider association work on the European level not to be useful.

By gathering additional values, EFA also intends to trace developments every six months in future. But naturally only if a large number of participants deliver a realistic picture. All data is kept completely anonymous and confidential, and is analysed in detail by individual areas such as market assessments and the business or order situation.

Three questions for Friedrich Allendorff, Board Member with the European Fireplaces Association and point of contact for the EFA Index

Mr Allendorff, the EFA Index is now a year old: how have the results been?
The results, with regard to the Index, have been outstanding. We have created a reliable measuring instrument we can use to represent market conditions. Our idea has thus proven its worth. And another thing that has proven its worth is the idea of producing a statistic for everyone, and not to make a secret out of it.

The whole industry can see our index, no matter whether they’re a member or not. Although we are, of course, delighted when people come to trust us as a trade association and become members precisely because of such projects.

How do you personally assess the Index results?
It’s clear that progress is still being made. Perhaps not in giant strides, but palpable nevertheless.

I see such development as being far healthier for businesses than huge leaps that later turn out to have been bubbles or hot air. But it is also clear that there is still much to do for a European association such as EFA.

What other trends can you read from the Index?
Sales is becoming more and more important.

Of course, businesses have always had to sell their products. But we also notice from the response rates that we as an association also need to emphasise this aspect more strongly – after all, more than half of our respondents come from sales.

Without, of course, losing sight of our core areas – production, manufacturing and development.

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