1000s of beds needed in Germany for refugees

2015-10-14 20:31
Young refugees play in a registration centre in Passau, southern Germany. (Kerstin Joensson, AP)

Young refugees play in a registration centre in Passau, southern Germany. (Kerstin Joensson, AP)

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Essen - Beds and mattresses are sought-after items as furniture stores in Germany struggle to meet the demand of local authorities setting up refugee shelters.

Among the bestselling items at IKEA, which is the largest furniture chain in Germany, are cheap mattresses and bunk bed frames, according to company spokesperson Isolde Debus-Spangenberg. The basic metal frame can accommodate two at €159 ($182).

"There might well be short-term supply issues" for the most popular items, she says.

The company is working quickly to make sure that the bed frame, which is normally built in China, would become available again at all of the 50 IKEA shops across Germany, she noted.

Stores were not designed for bulk orders, said Peter Betzel, the head of IKEA Germany, at its national headquarters in the town of Hofheim. "We're working hard to deliver items within a few days," he says, but the demand for bed frames and mattresses is "exceptionally high".

Austrian furniture chain XXXL reports similar problems. With 36 stores across the country, it is Germany's second largest seller of furniture. Demand for bedding, tables, chairs and cupboards have "increased markedly," says spokesperson Julian Viering. However, the company was able to deliver even large numbers of items in good time.

At the moment individual local authorities, such as Gelsenkirchen city council in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, were looking to buy "a thousand beds at a time", says Thomas Horschler, spokesperson for furniture discounter Poco. Limited production capacity at individual manufacturers was behind the supply shortfall in beds, for instance.

Those benefiting most from the increased demand are cheap furniture stores, says Thomas Grothkopp of German furniture trade association BVDM.

However, as demand for furniture in Germany had been stagnating over the last couple of years, warehouses are still well stocked. Given the industry's annual turnover of around €30bn, current developments were barely noticeable, according to Grothkopp.

Still, the industry is expecting significant hikes in turnover once the asylum seekers move into their own homes. When they leave their temporary shelters, demand for furniture might increase and cause delays in fulfilling orders, says Claudia Wieland of the association of mattress manufacturers.

"I think that German manufacturers will benefit sooner or later," says Ursula Geismann of furniture manufacturers' association VDM. However, she does not expect this to happen until next year.

Given that many people in Germany were making donations to refugees, including furniture, it was difficult to assess the situation of the furniture industry at the moment, says Grothkopp, adding: "There will certainly be a hike in turnover. But we don't have the figures yet."

Read more on:    germany  |  migrants

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