Glassware in the UK

It has proved difficult to increase value sales of UK glassware significantly, although the market is benefiting from increased volume sales as the population and number of UK households grow.

According to Research and Markets’ Glassware Market Report Plus 2009, which examines the UK glassware market, the industry is currently oversupplied and many cut-price products are being imported into the UK. It has consequently proved difficult to increase value sales of glassware significantly, although the market is benefiting from increased volume sales as the population and number of UK households grow. These difficulties are currently being exacerbated by the recession, which has led to severe reductions in consumer spending. However, housewares has proved to be a more resilient sector than others, as people spend more money on home entertaining to save the expense of going out.

The glassware market can be divided into four main categories: functional drinking vessels, such as stemware and tumblers; tableware and cookware, including dessert bowls and glass ovenware; decorative and ornamental gifts, including vases, paperweights, fruit bowls and candlesticks; and collectibles, such as glass ornaments and commemorative pieces. In terms of the type of material used to produce glassware, the market is split into three sectors: soda lime glass, lead glass and heat-resistant glass.

Sales Woes

Retail sales in household goods stores were worth 11.4% less in March 2009 than in the same month of the previous year, according to figures published by National Statistics in late April 2009. The authors estimate that the value of retail sales of glassware was virtually static between 2007 and 2008, finishing at £354.5 million (approximately $545.8 million) in the latter year, a 0.4% decline compared with 2004. In terms of manufacturers’ sales, National Statistics figures reveal that sales of hollow glassware, which includes products outside the scope of this report, declined in value by 17.7% between 2004 and 2007.

According to the report, the UK no longer has a volume producer of domestic glassware but has earned its reputation for fine crystal from respected manufacturers of longevity such as Waterford Crystal. Waterford Wedgwood, Waterford Crystal’s parent company, appointed administrative receivers in January 2009, however, having succumbed to hefty debts and falling sales and profits. Its products had been falling from favor as formal dining became a thing of the past and competition intensified against cheap imports and low-cost products. Thousands more jobs worldwide are threatened by the potential closure of Waterford Wedgwood’s retailing arm, which has 600 outlets across the globe, as well as stores in the UK and more than 100 concessions within larger high-street chains.

Future Potential

The authors forecast that the UK glassware market will experience modest growth of 0.8% between 2009 and 2013, with the value of retail sales reaching £358.0 million (~ $551.2 million) in the latter year. Further consolidation and restructuring is expected to take place over this period, and surviving companies will be required to adapt and introduce more contemporary designs in order to meet the needs of modern consumers.

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