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Mr. Hadrien Cottin
23-25 rue d'Aumale
F-75009 PARIS
tel. +33 1 53 89 24 66
faxnr. +33 1 53 89 24 01
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Papermerchanting in France in 2012



Economic situation


2012 has been a difficult year for France (GDP +0/0.1%). Household consumption (-0.1%) and investment (0%) have been stagnating, while manufacturing is in decline (-2.7% in volume) due to contraction of segments such as chemical and electrical equipment.

This decline has been offset by growth in the production of certain segments of consumer goods (cosmetics, pharmacy, small appliances) and food industry, whose production grew by 1%.

The purchasing power of French people has seen a small decline (-0.2%).

Also, the population of France rose more slowly than in previous years (0.5%), even if the curve continues to rise.

GDP is expected to remain sluggish in 2013 (+0.1 or 0.2%). Household consumption is expected to stagnate in the first six months to come.

Taxes on households should continue to progress in order to reduce the deficit, though not on same levels as the sharp rise of 2012. Consumers will remain vigilant about their purchasing power.



Paper industry

The paper industry gathers in France 83,000 employees in nearly 6,300 companies. In 2012, 4.4 million tons of products were brought to the market for a turnover of about 16 billion euros (publishing excluded; 40 billion if included).

In 2012, the economic downturn impacted the advertising markets and the use of paper in business. Also, a phenomenon of dematerialization has been engaged during the last decade, in France as elsewhere.

For coated paper, production stabilized in 2012 (-0.1%). In 2013, the demand should be similar to that seen last year and the market for coated woodfree should resist pessimism.

The erosion of demand for cut size paper is real. Its production has fallen from 23.2% in 2012, and two major sites were permanently closed. Consumption fell by 5.4%.

Press paper consumption also fell sharply in 2012 (-8.8%), same as book sales (-4.5%).

As a whole, the French printing sector registers a decline of 2% of its activity.

The production of corrugated packaging fell by 0.8% and packaging labels are down by 1.9%. The sector of cardboard declined by -1% in volume.

Apparent consumption of hygiene products is however stable in 2012: sales of feminine hygiene products fell by -1.9%, but the market for incontinence protection continues to grow. Its increase is estimated at 5.7% in volume.


Paper merchanting business


The total tonnage sold by the members of the AFDPE (Association Française des Distributeurs de Papier et d'Emballage), which represents 90% of the merchant's market, has reached 820 000 tons in 2012, meaning a decrease of 5,9% compared to 2011.

Warehouse sales, the most important in volume (480 000 tons), show a limited decrease (-3,4%), whereas indent sales (340 000 tons) fall by 9,4%. As a consequence, the total turnover has dropped by 8%.

Warehouse sales of coated woodfree register a restricted decline (-3.8%) as well as uncoated woodfree (-2.8%) and cut size (-2.5%).

Another concern: the financial health of merchants' customers continued to deteriorate in 2012, leading to a significant number of bankruptcies. Unfortunately, this trend should continue in 2013.

Compared to other distribution channels, Merchants shares remain predominant, symbolized by an overall strength on the major products.
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Among the examples are coated woodfree sheets, for which French merchants represent, in 2012, 81% of the French market.

The merchants' share drops concerning coated woodfree reels (23%, against 27% in 2011), but increases concerning uncoated woodfree sheets, up to 66% (61% in 2011).

Thus, French Merchanting business is recognized for its selection of quality products (combining innovation and respect for the environment) and its capability to weigh in for the best price, currently crucial to consumers.