Over the past 15 years the Swedish market has been totally restructured with several small manufacturers making way for a handful of bigger names. NIBE Stoves has been a driving force behind this development, acquiring many of the market’s best-known brands and setting a trend among competitors to emulate this approach by building up a broad portfolio of product styles to cater for all tastes.
Among our Scandinavian neighbours, however, the situation differs from country to country. In Norway, which has only a few domestic stove manufacturers, there has recently been a marked shift in demand from the total dominance of traditional cast-iron stoves to stoves that are more discreet in design. Finland has several fairly large companies, mostly specialising in heavy, warm-body stoves, while Denmark has numerous small or medium-sized manufacturers of steel-plate stoves, many of them with a long tradition of supplying the German market. Central Europe is home to a relatively large concentration of large and small manufacturers, some more profitable than others, for whom wood-burning stoves are just one of many different types of product in their range. It seems likely, therefore, that the process of structural change in Europe will continue over the next few years. The trend in most markets is away from big, bulky, heat-accumulating products towards relatively inexpensive, lightweight stoves.
A number of the more successful models are plagiarised, produced in low-cost countries and sold at low prices, usually by Europe’s big DIY multiples.
This suggests that long-term planning, financial stability, a company’s environmental credentials and its ability to show proper concern and respect for its dealers and end-customers will all grow in significance over the years to come.