Wooden houses producers increase export despite challenges in the sector
Estonian manufacturers exported timber buildings abroad for 394 million euros last year, roughly 23% more than in the year before (2017). The export amounts mainly consisted of the production of large manufacturers of prefabricated modular buildings and garden cottages, but export and the share thereof were also significantly increased by medium-sized enterprises.
According to Statistics Estonia the export of mounted wooden structures grew more than 73 million euros compared to previous year. Eeva Vahtramäe, manager of Estonian Wooden Houses export cluster said that this was mainly the contribution of a few modular houses producers. „Beside major producers also mid-size companies do a great job. Their individual export volumes may not be that big in volume but together they contribute a great deal to the sector.“
The biggest growth in export from destination markets was to Sweden according to Statistics Estonia (25,5 MEUR), followed by Norway (16 MEUR) and Finland (20 MEUR). Positive tendencies also came from Holland, France and Denmark where wooden houses export grew by 1-4 MEUR. „Sweden has made the biggest increase by volume and reached almost the level of Norway which has been the leading export state for Estonian wooden houses for years,“ adds Vahtramäe. „It is positive to note that there have been no major falls on any destination market and producers have been able to be successful also in other places besides their main markets,“ said Vahtramäe when analyzing the numbers.
Considerable increase in export markets nevertheless means that there are top times in the sector, but rather indicates the producers’ capability to adapt. Such statistic numbers came as a surprise to both the umbrella organisation as well as to the producers because the competitiveness of producers has been bothered by increasing number of competitors, rapid growth of input prices and lack of quality work force. According to Vahtramäe, major obstacles of the sector besides lack of skilled workers are also fast growing salary expenses and material prices.
But, on the other hand it is positive to note that the companies have been able to maintain export growth, despite hardships, due to their determined activities and successful sales. „Wooden Houses Cluster from their side has supported the sector quite powerfully with joint marketing and communication at Norwegian, Swedish and German markets. Also helped several companies to receive ETA certificates, which are of major importance when maintaining competitiveness is concerned,“ says Vahtramäe and adds that those activities definitely have an impact on export growth and maintaining of competitive edge.