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06-22-2015

Polymer Distributors' Sales Grow Steadily

In 2014, more than 12% of polymer consumed in Europe was sold via distribution channels which are equal to around 3.4 million tonnes. After hitting its lowest point in 2009 during the great recession and with another slowdown in 2012 due to weak polymer demand affected by the eurozone crisis, distributors' sales grew at an average of over 3%/year in 2013 and 2014 and for the first time in seven years surpassed the volume of sales reached in 2007. These are the findings of a new report by AMI Consulting, a division of Applied Market Information Ltd., on the latest developments in the polymer distribution market in Europe: Polymer Distribution in Europe 2015.

The market has been driven by the ongoing rationalisation by polymer suppliers of their customer base and increasing the threshold at which they handover customers to distributors. Distributors have also been securing more distribution mandates with non-European suppliers, causing traders to lose market share. In response some traders have started to establish distribution relationships with their suppliers. Plastics processors are also increasingly relying on distributors rather than holding their own stocks.

Polymer Distribution in Europe by country in 2014 (figure: AMI)

During 2014-2015 the distribution sector was buzzing with acquisitions and further consolidation is expected to continue over the next five years as companies seek new geographies, end markets or distribution mandates which in a mature market such as Europe are a challenge to achieve. Several well established European players have been losing market share to much younger but dynamic players who have been advancing strongly particularly in the area of engineering polymers.

Over the next five years the European distribution market is expected to advance at a double the rate of polymer demand encouraged by improved confidence in the market, processors re-launching some of the investments previously postponed due to the downturn, Central and East European polymer producers directing increasing volumes via distribution channels, and distributors increasingly switching to the faster growing and higher value engineering thermoplastics and niche markets such as medical/pharmaceutical, personal care and the automotive sectors.

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