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Entering the European market for garden furniture

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The European market for garden furniture offers opportunities, but competition is strong. The mid to high-end segments are most promising for you, as mass-producing countries dominate the lower ends of the market. To appeal to these consumers, you need to add value to your products through design, craftsmanship and sustainability. Entering the European market means you need to comply with the European Union’s mandatory (legal) requirements, as well as any additional or niche requirements your buyers may have.

1. What requirements must garden furniture comply with to be allowed on the European market?

The following requirements apply to garden furniture on the European market. For a more detailed overview, see our study on buyer requirements for Home Decorations and Home Textile (HDHT).

What are mandatory requirements?

When exporting to Europe, you must comply with the following legal requirements:

  • General Product Safety Directive
  • Timber Regulation
  • Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

General Product Safety Directive

Europe’s General Product Safety Directive is a framework legislation, stating that all products marketed in the European Union must be safe to use.

For outdoor (garden) furniture specifically, the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) has developed three product standards:

  • EN 581-1: general safety requirements for outdoor furniture
  • EN 581-2: mechanical safety requirements and test methods for outdoor seating
  • EN 581-3: mechanical safety requirements for outdoor tables

The General Product Safety Directive applies in addition to these standards, covering additional safety aspects that may not have been described specifically. Unsafe products are rejected at the European border or withdrawn from the market. The European Union has introduced a rapid alert system (Safety Gate) to list such products.


  • Familiarise yourself with the EN 581-series of standards for outdoor furniture and comply with those that are relevant for your products.
  • Read more about the General Product Safety Directive.
  • Use your common sense to ensure that normal use of your product does not cause any danger.
  • Check the Safety Gate alerts for garden furniture for an idea of what issues may arise.

Restricted chemicals: REACH

The REACH regulation (EC 1907/2006) lists restricted chemicals in products that are marketed in Europe.

Restricted chemicals in the production of garden furniture include:

  • arsenic and creosotes as wood preservatives
  • cadmium compounds in various applications


Timber Regulation

The European Union’s Timber Regulation (EUTR) counters the trade of illegally harvested timber and products with three obligations.

When placing timber on the European market for the first time:

  1. illegally harvested timber and products derived from such timber are prohibited
  2. European traders must exercise ‘due diligence

Once on the market, the timber and timber products may be sold and/or transformed before they reach the final consumer. To facilitate the traceability of timber products, economic operators in this part of the supply chain (referred to as traders in the regulation) have an obligation to:

  1. keep records of their suppliers and customers

The EUTR covers a wide range of timber products listed in its Annex, using EU Customs code nomenclature. Products with a FLEGT or CITES license comply with the EUTR, meaning they are exempt from the due diligence obligation.


Packaging legislation

Europe has specific packaging and packaging waste legislation. EU Directive 94/62/EC aims to prevent or reduce the impact of packaging and packaging waste on the environment. Buyers may therefore ask you to minimise the use of packaging materials (paper, carton, plastic) or to use, for example, recycled materials.

Europe also has requirements for wood packaging materials (WPM) used for transport, such as:

  • packing cases
  • boxes
  • crates
  • drums
  • (box) pallets
  • dunnage

All wood packaging material and dunnage from non-European Union countries must be:

  • heat treated or fumigated in line with International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM15)
  • officially marked with the ISPM15 stamp and the IPPC logo
  • debarked

These requirements do not apply to:

  • wood 6mm thick or less
  • wood packaging material made entirely from processed wood produced using glue, heat and pressure such as plywood, oriented strand board and veneer
  • wood packaging material used in trade within the European Union

The objective is to prevent organisms that are harmful to plants or plant products from being introduced into and spreading within the European Union. It also regulates imports from third countries in line with international plant health standards. Keep this in mind when you decide on the packaging of your garden furniture.


What additional requirements do buyers often have?


Social and environmental sustainability make your products stand out on the European market. Think of sustainable raw materials and production processes, as well as the impact your company has on the environment, the wellbeing of your workers and society as a whole. Buyers appreciate good storytelling to create an emotional connection with their customers.

An increasing number of European buyers would like you to comply with the following schemes:

  • Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI): European retailers developed this initiative to improve social conditions in sourcing countries. They expect their suppliers to comply with the BSCI Code of Conduct. To prove compliance, the importer can request an audit of your production process. Once a company is audited, it is included in a database for all BSCI participants.
  • Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI): This initiative is an alliance of companies, trade unions and voluntary organisations. It aims to improve the working lives of people across the globe that make or grow consumer goods.
  • Sedex: this membership organisation strives to improve working conditions in global sourcing chains. It offers a collaborative platform where you can share information on your ethical and labour standards with (potential) buyers, based on a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ).

You can use standards such as ISO 14001 and SA 8000 to read up on sustainable options. However, only niche market buyers demand compliance with such standards.

This increasing importance of sustainability is reflected in a recent Maison et Objet Barometer, where 62% of HDHT retailers have noticed growing interest from their customers in ethical products. They indicate that 92% of their customers think natural materials are (very) important, 77% value socially responsible production methods, and 71% care about recyclable/recycled materials. The Spoga + Gafa garden trade fair confirms the prominence of sustainability for outdoor HDHT, highlighting ‘Sustainable Gardens’ as a new trend theme.


  • Optimise your sustainability performance. Reading up on the issues included in the initiatives such as BSCI and ETI will give you an idea of what to focus on.
  • If you can show your sustainability performance, this may give you a competitive advantage. For instance with a self-assessment like the BSCI Producer Self-Assessment and Sedex’ SAQ, or a code of conduct such as the ETI base code.
  • For more information, see our special study on sustainability.


The information on the outer packaging of garden furniture should correspond to the packing list sent to the importer. The external packaging labels should include:

  • producer name
  • consignee name
  • quantity
  • size
  • volume
  • caution signs

Your buyer will specify what information they need on the product labels or on the item itself, such as logos or ‘made in…’ information. This is part of the order specifications. It is common in Europe to use EAN or barcodes on the product label. Labelling should be in English, unless your buyer indicates otherwise.

Packaging specifications

Importer specifications

You should pack garden furniture according to the importer’s instructions. Importers have their own specific requirements for using packaging materials, filling boxes, palletising, and stowing containers. Always ask for the importer’s packaging specifications. These are part of the purchase order.

Damage prevention

Proper packaging minimises the risk of damage caused by shocks. How an item is packaged for export depends on how easily it can be damaged. Packaging should ensure that the items inside a cardboard box cannot damage each other. It should also prevent damage to the boxes when they are stacked inside the container. Some buyers prefer furniture to be crated, others accept wrapping in corrugated cardboard without an outer carton.

If you produce wooden furniture, you need to properly dry the wood after production to prevent mould or cracks. Condensation inside the container during transport can also cause mould. This is caused by humid air that becomes colder at night and warmer during the day. You need proper air ventilation inside the container to prevent this. Before shipment, you must inspect containers for air holes. You can also place products to reduce humidity amongst the cargo. Make sure to follow the importer’s instructions.

Dimensions and weight

Packing needs to be easy to handle in terms of dimensions and weight. Standards are often related to labour regulations at the point of destination and must be specified by the buyer.

Cost reduction

Boxes are usually palletised for air or sea transport, and you have to maximise the use of pallet space. As garden furniture can take up a lot of container space, nesting, stacking or flat-packing the items inside the container reduces costs. Consider this when designing your products.

While packaging has to provide maximum protection, you must also avoid using excess materials or shipping ‘air’. Waste removal is a cost for buyers.

You can reduce the amount and diversity of packing materials by:

  • partitioning inside the boxes, using folded cardboard
  • matching inner and outer boxes by using standard sizes
  • considering packing and logistical requirements when designing your products
  • asking your buyer for alternatives


Importers are increasingly banning wooden crating and packaging due to its unsustainability and high material and disposal costs. Economical and sustainable packing materials are more popular. Using biodegradable packing materials can be a market opportunity. For some buyers, it can even be a requirement.

Consumer packaging

Consumer packaging for garden furniture should make it relatively easy to transport the product home from the retailer. It usually comes in the form of a carton, which can be the original export packaging, or a box provided by the retailer.

Payment and delivery terms

Payment terms are usually agreed upon with the buyer in the order contract. They vary from buyer to buyer and are related to the volume and value of the order, the type of distribution partner, whether or not an agent is involved, and what delivery terms apply.

Delivery terms, officially known as Incoterms, depend on the type of distribution partner and their preferences regarding physical distribution. Importers generally prefer Free On Board (FOB) or Free Carrier (FCA) arrangements.

FOB is restricted to goods transported by sea or inland waterway. It means that the seller pays for transportation of the goods to the port of shipment, plus loading costs. The buyer pays the cost of marine freight transport, insurance, unloading and transportation from the arrival port to the final destination. FCA can be used for any transportation mode. In this type of arrangement, the seller fulfils his obligation to deliver when he has handed over the goods, cleared for export, into the charge of the carrier named by the buyer at the specified place or point.

Retail multiples can ask for Cost Insurance Freight (CIF). That means they will ask you to include the shipping and insurance charges in your quotation. Small retailers may go a step further and ask you to arrange for the goods to be delivered to their doorstep via a Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) arrangement. For importers who consolidate orders in your country, Ex Works (EXW) terms are often best.


  • For a more elaborate overview of the various terms and conditions, how to work with them, and an explanation of the benefits of having your own, see our study on terms and conditions.
  • Study the different types of Incoterms, including what your and your buyer’s rights and obligations are.

What are the requirements for niche markets?

Fair trade

According to the World Economic Forum, 86% of people want significant change to make the world fairer and more sustainable after COVID-19. The concept of fair trade supports fair pricing and improved social conditions for producers and their communities. Especially if the production of your garden furniture is labour intensive, fair-trade certification can give you a competitive advantage. Common fair-trade certifications are issued by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) and Fair for Life.

Figure 1: Desser – Fairly produced handcrafted rattan (outdoor) furniture

Source: Desser @ YouTube


  • Ask buyers what they are looking for. Especially in the fair-trade sector, you can use the story behind your product for marketing purposes.
  • If certification is not feasible, work according to fair-trade principles without being officially guaranteed or certified. Carefully document your company processes so you can support your story.
  • Check the ITC Standards Map database for more information on voluntary standards and their requirements, including fair production.

Sustainable wood

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification is the most common label for sustainable wooden products, including garden furniture. The FSC chain of custody certification guarantees that a product’s source material comes from responsibly managed forests. These products are especially popular in Western European markets.

PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) is another option. Like with FSC, the PEFC chain of custody certification verifies that the certified forest-based material contained in a product comes from sustainably managed forests.

Because these certification programmes are aligned with the EUTR, they also provide a means of showing legal compliance.


2. Through what channels can you get garden furniture on the European market?

The European market for garden furniture is segmented into low, mid and high-end (premium) market segments. The items are put on the market through the traditional channels: importers/wholesalers that supply to retailers, as well as retailers that buy directly from suppliers.

How is the end market segmented?

Figure 2: Garden furniture market segmentation in Europe

Figure 2: Garden furniture market segmentation in Europe

Low-end market

The lower end of the market aims to keep prices friendly and design accessible to suit a broad pool of consumers. The focus is on functionality, especially related to how weather-proof the items are and how easy they can be cleaned. Synthetic or well-coated natural materials therefore have preference. Designs are generally basic to suit everybody’s garden or patio. The offer usually comes in sets, to allow for a one-stop-shop. Typical retailers in this segment are Castorama and JYSK.

As price is key in this segment, this market is dominated by mass-produced items. This limits your opportunities, especially since you have to compete with China and, increasingly, European producers. The mid and higher-end segments in garden furniture are more promising for you, as a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) from a developing country.

Mid-end market

In mid-market garden furniture, functionality and style go hand in hand. This consumer expects proper ergonomics and a contemporary look. Design needs to be in line with the current trends pushed by magazines, mid-market brands and tv shows, or fit in with an accepted mid-market style such as ‘rustic’ or ‘romantic’. By having a garden set that looks ‘now’, mid-market consumers can express their taste. Important players in this market are garden centres such as Intratuin, and furniture and interior stores like Habitat.

As consumers like to create a coherent look, garden furniture is often bought as a set, with price still being important. In the mid-high market for garden furniture, durability and sustainability add value. This segment offers you the most opportunity.

High-end / premium market

Consumers in the higher end of the garden furniture market are either quite independent and less influenced by marketing, or driven by the idea that the higher the price, the more tasteful the purchase. The former select their garden furniture based on what they like and how it allows them to ‘curate’ their garden set. They prefer high quality in terms of durability and innovative design, and a sustainable offer (certified wood, animal-cruelty free materials). The latter pick from high-end retail or hire an interior decorator. They shop less consciously.

Brands play a role in this segment, which can be in the form of luxury department stores such as Harrods and garden furniture retailers like Moda Furnishings. These types of brands can offer you opportunities. Often, high-end furniture brands now also offer outdoor sets. These are less suitable for you, unless you are able to supply to interior decorators.

Through what channels does garden furniture end up on the end market?

The channels through which garden furniture is put on the market follow the traditional patterns: import takes place via importers/wholesalers that supply to retailers. Larger retail chains often bypass the importers/wholesalers and import themselves, while more and more smaller retailers have also started buying directly from the supplier. In some cases, buying agents play a role. Below, the main actors in the market for garden furniture are highlighted.

Figure 3: Trade channels for garden furniture in Europe

Trade channels for garden furniture in Europe


Importers/wholesalers sell products to retailers in their own country or region, or re-export to the broader European continent. Some European markets are therefore supplied by wholesalers/importers from other European countries (internal European trade). Supply to buyers in the project market (such as hotels and spas) can be considered as a secondary distribution flow for European importing wholesalers.

These importers/wholesalers take care of the import procedures. They take ownership of the goods when they buy from an exporter (as opposed to agents), taking on the risk of the onward sale of the products. Developing a long-term relationship can lead to a high level of cooperation on appropriate designs for the market, new trends, use of materials, type of finishing and quality requirements.

Importing retailers

Retailers come in many sizes: large and part of a chain, or small and independent. Especially larger retail chains often import directly from their suppliers in developing countries. Many, such as IKEA, even have their own buying offices in developing countries. Others, mainly the smaller independent stores, order in Europe from wholesalers.

There is a tendency for consolidation in European retail. Large retail brands are becoming more widespread in Europe and more ‘lifestyle-centred’, offering home decoration and textiles as well as fashion accessories and furniture).

Buying agents, buying houses and sales agents

You can encounter several types of intermediaries in your dealings with European buyers. In your own country there may be buying houses, and in Europe there are both buying and sales agents.

European buying agents represent European buyers in sourcing countries. They act as intermediaries, meaning they do not import products themselves. Sometimes agents have a more limited role, such as checking the quality of the products in your warehouse on behalf of a specific importer or checking the codes of conduct that you have agreed on with your buyer. Buying agents can work individually or as part of purchasing companies.

Buying houses are comparable to buying agents, but they are based in your country and usually have a broader spectrum of services. This can range from raw material sourcing to design and sampling services.

European sales agents can represent you in helping to find buyers in the European market. However, you should be careful before entering into (exclusive) agreements with them, as European legislation is quite protective when it comes to the position of commercial agents.

Agents and buying houses mostly operate based on commission. They may approach you directly, or your (potential) buyer could indicate they prefer working through an intermediary. However, if possible, working directly with a buyer is preferable. This saves on commission and allows you to communicate directly with the buyer.


E-commerce in the HDHT sector is increasing and can help you reach a broader range of customers. However, it is important to understand that for most producers this is not a completely separate channel in itself and that catering to buyers that sell online does not differ from your regular business. Retailers often combine online and offline channels but the way of supplying them is the same. Companies that only sell online also need to take stock before they can sell.

Channelling online sales via your own website would mean:

  • supplying small batches/individually packaged items, and being prepared to pre-stock and offer more just-in-time supply concepts
  • needing to be found in a crowded space of European and producer country wholesalers and retailers that are ahead of the game in understanding and responding to online consumers’ needs
  • being able to deal with aftersales on a business-to-consumer (B2C) level, including returns and replacing items

Because of this, selling online to consumers in Europe is not feasible for most exporters from developing countries.


  • To find potential buyers, search the list of exhibitors or attend the main (online) trade fairs in Europe: Ambiente - Frankfurt, Germany (February), Maison et Objet - Paris, France (January and September), Spoga + gafa - Cologne (August), and IMM in Cologne (January). Salone del Mobile is the place to spot design innovations and trends.
  • Search the member lists of relevant industry associations to find potential buyers, such as EFIC (European Furniture Industries Confederation) and FENA (European Federation of Furniture Retailers).
  • See our tips for finding buyers on the European HDHT market.

What is the most interesting channel for you?

Wholesale importers are the main channel between exporters in developing countries and European retailers. They are interesting if you want to develop a long-term relationship and they usually have good knowledge of the European market. They can provide you with valuable information and guidance on European market preferences.

However, as the market is becoming more and more competitive, large retailers are increasingly importing for themselves instead of through European wholesale importers. The obvious advantages are cutting out the margins of the wholesaler and reducing delivery time to the market. In the lower-end market segments, the self-importing retailers might want to drive a much harder bargain with you. However, in the mid-high segment, which offers you the most opportunities, price and value are more in balance.

Smaller, independent European retailers continue to purchase mainly from domestic wholesalers/importers. As in other European market sectors (such as food or clothing), independent HDHT retailers struggle to compete with retail chains. They need to differentiate on value-added service, as well as specialised offers and authenticity. These buyers typically prefer orders for small quantities per item, small total order volumes and delivery to their doorstep, with a limited likelihood of repeat orders. You need to calculate if this is cost-effective for you.

The trend of direct sourcing is expected to continue in the future and may create more opportunities for you. The pool of buyers may increase if more retailers become importers, possibly resulting in an improvement of your bargaining position. Importing retailers order for their own shops and can therefore place orders much more quickly than some importers/wholesalers, who may first need to show samples to their retailers before exporters receive their orders.


  • Consider targeting retailers directly to improve your bargaining position and increase your chances of closing deals faster.
  • Relate your offer and terms to the targeted retailer (large/small). Ask your existing buyers how they operate if you are unsure. The more informed you are about this aspect, the better you will be able to set prices.
  • For more information on the pros and cons of dealing directly with smaller retailers, read our study on alternative distribution channels.
  • Offer suitable services such as fast delivery and after-sales support to and build a relationship based on mutual benefits.
  • When you participate in international trade fairs, especially in Europe, make sure that you have a policy for small, independent retailers coming to your booth. If you choose to sell to them, you must have appropriate terms of trading, such as low minimum order quantities, delivery to the doorstep of the retailer and pre-stocking.

3. What competition do you face on the European garden furniture market?

Europe’s leading suppliers of bamboo and rattan furniture are China and Indonesia. Most of the Chinese supplies are bamboo furniture, while Indonesian supplies are mainly rattan. Instead of competing with manufacturers of mass-produced items in the lower-end segments, your best opportunities are in the (higher) mid-end market, where you can add value.

(!) Because no specific trade data are available for garden furniture, these statistics cover bamboo and rattan furniture as an example.

China and Indonesia are by far the main suppliers of bamboo and rattan furniture to Europe, providing 35% and 20% of the imports respectively. About 80% of Chinese supplies are bamboo furniture, while about 90% of Indonesian supplies are rattan. Together, these countries supply more than half of all European imports of these furniture items. Germany (8.8%), the Netherlands (7.7%), Vietnam (6.2%) and Poland (3.9%) are next on the list.

Be aware that European countries have different roles on the market. You can make a rough distinction between countries that are mainly importers and countries that are mainly manufacturers. Western European countries are mainly importers and re-exporters. Most Western European importers do not just sell their products in their own country, but they distribute them across the continent.

European production mainly takes place in Eastern European countries, mostly because of their proximity and their relatively low labour costs. This can make them a good alternative for sourcing low to mid-end products. Western and Southern European countries also produce some high-end products from well-known premium brands with a long history.

Mass-produced garden furniture is segmented in the lower ends of the market and produced in the most cost-effective countries. You do not compete with these countries, as your best chances are in the mid to high-end market.

Which countries are you competing with?

China dominates the bamboo furniture market

Chinese supplies of bamboo and rattan furniture to Europe increased from €49 million in 2016 to €58 million in 2020, at an average annual rate of 4.1%. Most of this was bamboo, as China directly accounts for more than half of all European bamboo furniture imports.

Its low-cost workforce, availability of raw materials and efficient shipping to Europe compared to other Asian countries make China the most competitive supplier. However, the cost of labour in China has also steadily increased in the last ten years, which has affected China’s price competitiveness. In the coming years, disruptions following China’s trade war with the United States and the outbreak of COVID-19 may also negatively impact the country’s trade performance. This could benefit companies from other developing countries.

Chinese producers mainly supply the lower ends of the market with low-priced products, benefitting from their strengths in productivity and production management. To avoid having to compete with Chinese suppliers on costs, you should differentiate and stay away from mass-produced garden furniture. Focus more on design, craftsmanship, sustainability and the story behind your product. This allows you to enter the mid and higher-end market, where your best opportunities are.

Indonesia leads in rattan furniture supplies

From 2016 to 2020, Indonesia’s bamboo and rattan furniture supplies to Europe fluctuated between about €30-40 million. Most of this was rattan furniture. Indonesia is famous for its rattan products, as it produces 80% of the world’s rattan. It should come as no surprise therefore that the country is Europe’s leading supplier of rattan garden furniture, directly providing nearly half of all imports.

Wages in Indonesia are relatively high for an Asian country. This means Indonesian suppliers have to target the mid to high-end markets to be able to compete. They need to do so by delivering high-quality items that are often handmade.

The logistical structure and business climate in Indonesia are good, making the country accessible for European importers, many of whom already have a long-term base in the country. Several European entrepreneurs are active in Indonesia as designers or (co-)owners of a production facility.

Vietnam is another low-cost producer

Vietnamese supplies of bamboo and rattan furniture to Europe increased from €8.6 million in 2016 to €10 million in 2020, at an average rate of 4.9% per year. About two thirds of this was bamboo furniture.

Like suppliers from China, Vietnamese manufacturers are very productive and can produce against low cost. This puts them in a promising position to potentially benefit from the trade war between the United States and China.

Vietnamese suppliers often have a keen sense of what is commercial and trendy and prefer to produce in volume. They effectively combine hand-made and mechanised production and can cater for a wide section of lower and middle-end markets. As such, they have presented an effective second-sourcing alternative to China for several years now.

Poland strengthens its position as a regional supplier

Since 2018, Polish supplies of bamboo and rattan furniture to Europe have been increasing at double-digit growth rates. This translated to an impressive average annual growth of 14% between 2016 and 2020. In 2020, more than 80% of the country’s €6.6 million exports consisted of bamboo furniture. This furniture is made of imported bamboo, because the Polish climate generally does not support industrial bamboo farming.

The country’s strength is its geographical proximity to the Western European market, allowing suppliers to offer short delivery times. Compared to Western Europe, labour in Poland is relatively affordable. Suppliers have a good understanding of the European consumer and have well established and efficient production lines. In addition, products that are ‘Made in Europe’ are increasingly popular. For example, German AMAZONAS boosts its sustainability by having their Polish partner Krzysztof produce their FSC-certified wooden garden furniture.

Figure 5: AMAZONAS – Sustainable production in Poland

Source: AMAZONAS @ YouTube

To compete with Poland, you should focus on design, craftsmanship, material use and the story behind your product. Make sure you offer a high level of service to build a strong relationship.

Romania is a new player on the market

Like Poland, Romania has considerably increased its bamboo and rattan furniture supplies to Europe since 2018. This has earned the country tenth place among Europe’s leading suppliers in 2020, with €2.9 million worth of exports. In 2019 Romania mainly increased its rattan furniture exports, while in 2020 its bamboo furniture supplies soared. There is some interest in industrial bamboo farming in Romania, which could offer opportunities for Romanian garden furniture manufacturers in the future.

As a supplying country, Romania enjoys similar advantages to Poland, especially its affordable labour and location close to the Western European market, allowing suppliers to offer short delivery times. However, lately its overall business climate has been seen as less attractive and stable than that of Poland. This makes it unclear how Romania may perform in the coming years, as a relative newcomer in this market.

Italy has a strong heritage in furniture production

Italian bamboo and rattan furniture supplies to Europe decreased from €4.3 million in 2016 to €1.6 million in 2020. Although Italy’s role in bamboo and rattan is relatively limited, the country is a key local player on the general European (garden) furniture market.

With a long tradition in furniture manufacturing, Italy is a strong competitor in the higher-end and luxury segments. Along with Fashion and Food, Furniture makes up the three ‘F’s’ of the renowned ‘Made in Italy’ brand, recognised around the world for its quality and design. Being located inside the European market, Italian producers also benefit from relatively easy and affordable transport.

Italy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the government responded with drastic restrictions. Some of the country’s leading furniture manufacturers joined forces to urge for a quick restart of production, despite lockdown measures. Concerned for Italy’s competitiveness against countries with fewer restrictions, they suggested it may take the Italian furniture sector 20-30 years to recover.

What companies are you competing with?

Lovato Móveis – Brazil

Originally dedicated to handmade reed and rattan wicker furniture, Brazilian manufacturer Lovato Móveis now produces a wide variety of luxury outdoor items. The company’s products range from various types of chairs and tables to fun items like poufs and swings. In addition to using natural materials such as Cumaru wood (‘Brazilian teak’), Lovato invests in the development of innovative materials that are weather-resistant and durable. This reflects their motto “Made to Weather”.

Striving to create modern, timeless and comfortable furniture for higher-end markets, Lovato combines “beauty, unique design and quality”. Many of their designs feature so-called nautical knitting techniques, using rope that they manufacture in-house. While the company claims to act “with social and environmental responsibility in everything it does”, their website does not explain what this entails. Especially considering the move from purely natural materials towards innovative man-made materials, this would be a welcome addition.

Ethnicraft – Belgium / Indonesia, Vietnam, Serbia

As the barrier between indoor and outdoor spaces disappears, the garden becomes an extension of the home. A company that is cleverly playing into this trend is Ethnicraft. Headquartered in Belgium, Ethnicraft produces furniture and decorative objects at their facilities and workshops in Indonesia, Vietnam and Serbia. The company’s main focus is on solid wood furniture, sourced from responsibly and carefully managed forests. As such, they are FSC chain of custody certified.

Ethnicraft is well aware of the trend of blending indoor and outdoor styles, stating that “outdoor living areas are an extension of our homes, for entertaining, relaxing, and connecting”. In 2020 they presented their first outdoor collection, combining both familiar and new designs. It included some popular and recognisable Ethnicraft designs that were adapted for outdoor use, for example by using teak instead of oak wood. This is ideal for consumers who would like to continue the style of their living room into their outdoor space.

Figure 6: Ethnicraft – Wooden outdoor furniture

Source: Ethnicraft @ YouTube

TakeCaire – Egypt

An innovative partnership between Egyptian makers and French designers, TakeCaire offers indoor and outdoor furniture made from palm tree wood. The handmade furniture has a quirky, ‘raw’ look, and is quite robust and durable. This places it at the mid-high end of the furniture market.

TakeCaire markets itself as an “eco-friendly French-Egyptian design label”. The brand uses better/less raw materials and non-polluting processes, and it tries to lengthen the life cycle of their products. Recycling and upcycling play a major part in the other products TakeCaire offers, such as home textiles, glassware and lighting.

Which products are you competing with?

Although there is a general trend towards natural and sustainable materials, garden furniture made of plastic or synthetic rattan is still popular, mainly because these materials are durable and do not require extensive maintenance. Such products of man-made fibres, often sourced from China, will continue to be important competing products for producers of garden furniture made of natural materials.


  • Compare your products and company to the competition. You can use the ITC Trademap to find exporters per country and compare on market segment, price, quality and target countries.
  • To differentiate from your main competitors, focus on design, craftsmanship, quality and the story behind your products.

4. What are the prices for garden furniture?

Prices for garden furniture vary across market segments, ranging from low-end to high-end. After adding logistics costs, wholesaler and retail margins and Value Added Tax (VAT), European consumer prices amount to about 4-6.5 times your selling price.

As an example, Table 1 gives an overview of the indicative prices of a wooden dining set for six persons in the low, middle and high market segments.

Table 1: Indicative consumer prices of a wooden outdoor dining set in Europe





Wooden outdoor dining set for six persons

up to €500


€1,200 or more

Rattan and bamboo outdoor dining set for six persons

up to €600


€1,300 or more

Consumer prices depend on the value perception of your product in a particular segment. This is influenced by your marketing mix:

  • product benefits
  • promotion (brand or not, communication of product benefits)
  • points of sale (reseller positioning)
  • price

The following percentages give an indication of a price breakdown for garden furniture in the supply chain:

  • shipping, import, handling costs: +25%
  • wholesaler: +100%
  • retail: +100-150%
  • VAT*: +20%

*VAT percentages in Europe range from 18% in Malta to 27% in Sweden. On average, these percentages are around 20%.

For example, in Table 2 the FOB price is set at €10.00. Depending on the market segment your product is designed for, the consumer price ranges from €41.00 in the low-end market to €65.50 in the high-end market.

Table 2: Example of the price breakdown per market segment


Low margin

Middle margin

High margin


FOB price




Your FOB price

Transport, handling charges, transport insurance, banking services (20/15/15%)







Landed price for the wholesale importer

Wholesalers’ margins (50/75/90%)







Selling price from the wholesale importer to the retailer

Retailers’ margins (90/110/150%)







Selling price excluding VAT from the retailer to the end consumer

Selling price incl. VAT (20%)







Selling price including VAT from the retailer to the end consumer

The FOB price of €10 includes your own margins as a producer. These margins depend on your efficiency and price setting. Generally, margins in the lower segment, which deals with high volumes for low prices, are smaller than those in the middle and higher segments.

Some examples of garden furniture prices across Europe are:

  • FSC-certified foldable wooden bistro set, West Elm (the United Kingdom), about €700
  • Bamboo lounge set, Wehkamp (the Netherlands), €899
  • FSC-certified acacia wooden garden set, Maisons du Monde (France), €1599


  • Study consumer prices in your target segment to determine your price and adjust your cost accordingly. The quality and price of your garden furniture must match what is expected in your chosen target segment.
  • Understand your segment. Offer a correct marketing mix to meet consumer expectations. Adapt your business model to your position in the market.

This study has been carried out on behalf of CBI by Globally Cool B.V. in collaboration with GO! GoodOpportunity.

Please review our market information disclaimer.

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