Thomas Truckenbrod, president of the German opticians' association, ZVA, reported at the Opti ‘13 trade show in Munich that the German ophthalmic optics market recorded stable sales in 2012, but with a decline of about 3 percent in the number of frames sold in the stores. Higher average prices offset this decline in revenue. As market results are not complete this early in the year, ZVA conducted a survey among its members in order to come up with this forecast.
Although the trend over the last months suggests that the euro crisis has made its way into the optics business, the sentiment of the optical retail market remains positive for 2013. Four out of five business owners describe their current economic situation at least as satisfactory; about 25 percent characterize it as good. About a third of the respondents are pleased with a sales growth of around 2 percent, and the same number is expecting a further increase in sales in 2013. Only 11.6 percent of the respondents are afraid of declining sales figures for the current year. About 70 percent expect stable or increasing sales at the end of 2013.
The relative confidence is partly due to the fact that 13 percent recorded stable sales in 2012, 14.5 percent saw their sales increase by a maximum of 2 percent, and 31.9 percent realized growth in sales of more than 2 percent. Nevertheless, 26.1 percent recorded a decrease of more than 2 percent in 2012, while 14.5 percent saw their sales decline by at least 2 percent. Still, the vast majority of respondents have no plans to cut back on personnel. On the contrary, about 15 percent of enterprises will be looking for full-time reinforcement in 2013.
The wholesale figures provided at the Munich show by Josef May, president of the German ophthalmic industry association, Spectaris, and the managing director of Silhouette's German subsidiary, generally supported the picture drawn by the ZVA. In fact, German suppliers of ophthalmic optic products recorded a slight increase in domestic sales of 1 percent to €2 billion in 2012 compared with the previous year.
The foreign picture was much better, as German producers' sales abroad rose by 5.1 percent to €1.95 billion, leading to an increase of 3 percent in the industry's total turnover to €3.95 billion for 2012. Exports made up 49.4 percent of the total. Exports to countries of the European Union made up 60 percent of the industry's export sales in 2012. Growth was especially noted in exports to Asia, with an increase of 6.9 percent, and North America, with growth of 3.7 percent. Exports to Africa and South and Central America declined by 5.4 and 10.7 percent, respectively.
The number of employees in the German ophthalmic industry decreased slightly by 0.5 percent to a total of 21,300. The number of businesses in the industry with more than 20 employees also decreased slightly, from 150 to 149.
Based on a survey among the members of Spectaris, May also presented a financial forecast for 2013. The association is very optimistic with regard to domestic sales, which are expected to increase by 4 percent, while export sales are expected to increase only slightly by 1 percent. Overall sales are seen rising by 2-3 percent in 2013.