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THE HEATING INDUSTRY FOCUSES STRONGLY ON EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA
In 2008, it was the export market that promised to "rescue" the Italian manufacturers of hot air generators, gas radiators and radiant systems. Alongside a certain degree of stagnation in the domestic market, caused by a crisis of uncertainty in the regulatory framework of reference, the growth in export markets registered in 2007 should be consolidated in 2008. It is too early to quote figures, but the estimates given by Assotermica, the association of members belonging to Anima, the Italian federation for the mechanics sector, indicate a positive trend.
For Italian producers of hot air generators and gas radiators the year 2007 ended with a slight rise in sales, particularly to Eastern Europe and Russia. For the year 2008, there is a prediction of stability in the domestic market and a slight growth in overseas sales, as long as the sector manages to keep its costs low by improving rationalization and productivity organization. As for radiant systems, which registered a recovery in exports in 2007, thanks to a movement into new markets, the year 2008 looks set to be a time of consolidation for sales and confirmation of good results overseas.
So, it is up to the two most "reactive" segments in the huge sector of heating appliances and components (which employs more than 12,000 workers) to defend the position of an industry which maintains a strong leaning towards exports. Sales in the year 2007 amounted to 2,655 million euros, and at least 55%, or 1,450 millions' worth, of Italian-made heating appliances and components were registered outside Italy. Results expected for 2008 suggest a substantial confirmation of these figures: in spite of a slight falling off to 1,406 million, the incidence of exports in total earnings will rise to 55%, two per cent more on 2006.
Despite a difficult year in 2008, characterized by the uncertainty of the economic picture, the thirty or so producers of environmentally friendly heating appliances, components and systems have not remained passive in the face of crisis. On the contrary, they have reacted to the new E.U. directives, and to the rising cost of energy resources (two factors which have depressed their particular market) by confirming their investment quota for 2007, up by 4.2%, or 125 million euros, on 2006. The sector has a clear objective: to oil the wheels of company restructuring and R&D in order to tackle the problems the industry faces, and to offer products which can satisfy the new requirements of the national and international market.
But which are the most dynamic markets for this sector on the global scene? The latest figures we have are those for 2007. Last year, exports to Asia went up by 71%, from 109.9 to 187.7 million euros. There was also good news from Africa (+23%), even if the figures are still fairly modest (32.4 millions' worth of export in 2007). Looking at individual markets, Russia and Ukraine are proving to be the new frontier for the Italian sector of heating appliances, components and systems: exports increased respectively by 33% to 90.1 million euros and by 17% to 50.2 million euros.