Western Europe’s trailer market has grown 13.4 per cent in 2015, according to a new report by UK firm, Clear International – marking the first time since 2008 for the continent’s trailer population to break through the two million unit barrier.
According to Clear CEO, Gary Beecroft, the first half of the calendar year saw growth of 14.8 per cent, followed 11.9 per cent during the second half.
“Overall, the market stronger than anticipated at the beginning of the year,” he explained.
“The reason is that several markets which have struggled since the global financial crisis (GFC) performed very strongly in 2015.”
According to Beecroft, Italy was up 72 per cent in the first half of the year and finished the year up at 60 per cent, albeit coming from a low base.
Spain, where registrations in 2014 were half pre-crisis levels, started the year up 55 per cent and finished up 46 per cent.
“Two countries that have [already] recovered quite well from the crisis have also had strong years”’ Beecroft added. “The Netherlands finished 2015 up 22 per cent, and the UK, which set a new record for trailer demand in 2014, smashed that record with 25 per cent growth.”
Beecroft said the most recent registration hike made the UK the second largest European trailer market behind Germany.
Denmark and France reportedly also saw growth in the year past.
“What we are seeing in these markets is basically catch-up demand,” Beecroft explained. “In many European markets, the demand for new trailers has been so far below the long-term trend level for so many years that, as soon as haulage companies regain the confidence to invest in new assets, the floodgates are opened and two or three years of exceptional increases (measured in percentage terms) are possible.”
According to Beecroft, the big 7 economies of western Europe are all forecast to have accelerating GDP growth and higher business investment, prompting him to announce a positive forecast for 2016. A cyclical slowdown is forecast in 2018.
Short-term concerns come from a significant slide in stock market levels and the slowing growth in China, though. “The problem with such sentiment is that it may undermine business confidence and lead to the postponement of decisions to purchase assets such as transport equipment,” said Beecroft.