Thomas Truckenbrod, president of the German opticians' association, ZVA, reported at the Opti trade show in Munich that the German ophthalmic optics market recorded higher sales in 2013. After a drop in the first quarter, the number of frames sold in the stores increased slightly over the balance of the year, going up by 3.5 percent in both the second and third quarters as compared to the corresponding periods of 2012.

As market results for the fourth quarter were being collated at the time of his speech, ZVA conducted a survey among its members in order to come up with its newest estimates. About 83 percent of the 800-plus retailers who participated in the survey rated their current economic situation as good or satisfactory. About 25 of participating members recorded stable sales through the end the last year, about 30 percent said they had gone up by up to 2 percent and 20 percent mentioned increases of more than 2 percent.

The opticians participating in ZVA's survey are quite positive for 2014. About half of the respondents expect stable sales, while 44 percent even expect them to increase. Only 7 percent of participating opticians see their sales decline in the present business year. ZVA has mixed feelings about this confidence, however, as the more positive statements come mostly from chain stores.

Nevertheless, it's a positive aspect that 90 percent of the opticians are not planning any staff reductions and a third are looking for full-time recruits. About 17 percent are willing to hire an apprentice in 2014.

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 an increase in domestic sales of 2.5 percent to €2.04 billion in 2013 compared with the previous year.

The foreign picture improved almost equally, as German producers' sales abroad rose by 2 percent to €1.99 billion in 2013, leading to an increase of 2.3 percent in the industry's total turnover to €4.04 billion in 2013. Exports still made up 49.4 percent of the total, with countries belonging to the European Union making up for more than 55 percent of the industry's export turnover.

Notable growth was registered in sales to Central and South America, up by 32.4 percent; Africa, with an increase of 24 percent; and to Australia and New Zealand, with growth of 10.7 percent. Exports to Asia and North America were close to last year's export figures for these markets, with slight declines of 0.3 and 0.7 percent, respectively. 

The number of employees in the German ophthalmic industry decreased by 0.5 percent to a total of 21,200 last year. The number of businesses in the industry with more than 20 employees remained stable at a total of 149 companies.

Based on a survey among its members, Spectaris predicts that the industry's sales will increase by 3.5 percent in 2014, rising by 2.5 percent in Germany and by 4.5 percent abroad.