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Looking overseas

Peter Hofbauer-Hofmann is Setra’s Sales Manager for China and several other developing markets. After 18 years in the business, with his sights always set east, he is still fascinated by Asia.

“Take China, for example. Its size alone is enough to make it an interesting market. They use wood for so many different things, that there is a market for almost everything,” says Peter Hofbauer-Hofmann.

In just a few years China has become Setra’s largest market outside Sweden. Growth and the fact that they are total dependent on imports when it comes to softwood, mean that opportunities for further growth are considerable.

Just like other Swedish wood products companies, Setra’s niche in China has been whitewood. But the Chinese use predominantly redwood. This is something Setra’s team of three in China has latched on to in the past year, and with success.

“China is now as big in redwood as Saudi Arabia which has always been a strong redwood market. It shows what an impressive job our employees out there have done,” he says.

“Vietnam is another exciting Asian market. The country has an export-oriented furniture industry with a fondness for Swedish whitewood. Volumes do not match China’s, but there is still good potential,” he thinks.

“Many wood product companies in Asia have relocated from Taiwan to China and from there on to Vietnam as labour costs have risen. The next step will be Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos,” Peter believes.

What other new markets do you want to highlight?

“I want to mention Australia, where we have just started deliveries, and the US. Both countries have a tradition of building in wood. Australia wants building materials, both exterior and interior, and the competition from Europe is not that strong. Despite the fact that it takes 50 days to ship our goods there, they feel the higher quality is worth waiting for. Setra does not sell to the US yet, but we see considerable potential both in the construction sector and the enormous DIY market.”

Text: Linn Treijs