In 2009 , forests belonging to the Macroregion of Eastern Poland equalled 32,05% of the total forest area in Poland. Consequently, much attention has been paid to the wood/ furniture industry and that is why it is so highly developed. At that time, the contribution of Eastern Poland in timber harvesting amounted to 28% at the country scale. The industry gives employment to about 59 thousand people.
Wood processing, stationery and furniture industry primarily include the production of goods made from wood, straw and cork (e.g. lumber, wood panels, plywood, wooden packaging as well as many other carpentry and joinery products), production of paper, cardboard and cellulose (also paper and cardboard-based products) and production of furniture. The most notable centres of the industry are located in the warmińsko-mazurskie, podkarpackie and lubelskie voivodship.
Eastern Poland is a region whose characteristic features promote and facilitate the development of wood processing industry. The Macroregion is an outstanding timber resource. Furniture production is developing as a result of foreign expansion and sale management on the national market. The region’s companies have a long-standing experience and continually improve their designs and build brand value, which in turn has an impact on their competitiveness. The number of apartments bought in the eastern regions is rising, which also contributed to the increase in demand for furniture. Additionally, Eastern Poland ensures relatively low production costs made possible by competitive prices for raw materials and unmatched access to workforce.
In Eastern Poland, there are many schools offering courses directly related to the wood/furniture industry — Wood Technology School Complex in Łomża, Forestry and Wood Technology School Complex in Ruciane-Nida, Environmental Protection and Wood Technology School Complex in Zwierzyniec, Secondary Vocational Schools in Suwałki, Mechanical Engineering and Wood Technology School Complex in Przemyśl and Wood Technology School in Iława. Moreover, students can continue their education at universities that offer a wide variety of technical courses. Consequently, one of the region’s advantages is a large number of professionally trained carpenters, industrial coaters and upholsterers.
The development of the Macroregion’s companies operating in the wood processing, stationery and furniture industry is facilitated by the creation of clusters in each of the voivodships. One of the regional clusters is “Lubelskie Drewno” Association in Lublin, comprising 23 business entities from wood processing industry and related sectors — timber suppliers and lumber producers, woodwork producers, producers of wooden roof decking, furniture manufacturers and companies offering construction and transportation services. Another example is “Mebel Elbląg”. Established in 2007, the cluster of associations comprises 20 companies employing over 2.000 people. Since 2008, on the premises of ‘Poland-East’ Science and Technology Park (Suwałki, Poland), operates Podlaski Woodworking Cluster. Another cluster of window and door manufacturers, “Mazurskie Okna”, is located in Olsztyn. It was opened in 2006 as an initiative of 7 companies from the warmińsko-mazurskie voivodship. The main aim of the clusters is to facilitate entrepreneurship development and local economic initiatives through cooperation in the process of implementing innovative solutions. Of great value for investros are Special Economic Zones present in five Macroregion’s voivodships. They offer tax exemption and additional subsidies, among other possibilities. The companies can also receive financial support provided from Operational Programme: Development of Eastern Poland as well as other EU programmes.
In the Eastern Poland, as in the whole country, small companies dominate in the wood/furniture industry, as large companies constitute only about 1% of it. The biggest Polish furniture group is Black Red White, which originated in Biłgoraj. The group comprises Black Red White S.A. and 20 subsidiary companies that include 9 foreign branches located in Ukraine, Belarus, Slovakia, Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. ‘Black Red White’ specialises in the production of room, kitchen and upholstered furniture as well as tables and chairs of various styles. It has a network of about 2.000 retail outlets, almost half of which is situated outside country borders.