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After a few years of no, or at best, very slow growth, the mood in the European EMS industry is more buoyant in 2017 and the prospects for further growth are good. According to the latest figures from Reed Electronics Research, the European EMS industry is forecast to reach €32 billion by 2021, continuing the last three years of consecutive growth.
EMS revenues in Western Europe grew for the second year running to an estimated €11.2 billion and are forecast to grow over the next five years at a compound average annual rate of 2.8%, with good growth expected from aerospace and defense, automotive, medical, control and industrial and telecom (ADAMCIT) sectors of the market.
There are however, constant pressures on price and the transfer of production from Western European plants to manufacturing facilities in CEE/MENA will continue. EMS will also be under pressure from their global OEM customers to offer local manufacturing in other world regions and this will temper growth in some areas of Western Europe.
Figure 1: EMS revenues for Western Europe and CEE/MENA 2016-2021 (Source: Reed Electronics Research)
The CEE region will continue to be focused on higher volume products in the consumer, computing and communications (3C) sectors with production undertaken by a small number of Group 1 companies. Foxconn, which accounted for 25% of overall European EMS revenues in 2016, Flex and Jabil combined accounted for 44% of the total with an estimated 89% undertaken in their low cost sites in CEE.
European-owned EMS providers in general are focused on serving the ADAMCIT sectors of the market and for the majority, in particular the smaller companies, focused on serving their domestic market. Recent high profile acquisitions, including Scanfil’s purchase of PartnerTech and Neways' takeover over BuS Elektronik, have created larger companies capable of competing across European markets as well as globally.
These larger European Groups are not only competing with fellow European companies but also the Group 1 companies Flex, Jabil, Sanmina, Celestica and Zollner. With the exception of Zollner, the other 4 Group 1 companies have significantly scaled back their activities in Western Europe and are increasingly utilising their low-cost facilities in the region to support the requirements for European manufacturing.
In addition, the US companies Kimball Electronics, Plexus and Benchmark and more recently the Asian companies Integrated Micro-Electronics, Fabrinet and SVI have either strengthened their position or entered the European EMS market.
Over the period to 2021, high volume manufacturing in 3C segment of the EMS industry will continue to be served by a limited number of companies with growth dependent on market demand with the constant threat that through cost pressures, European manufacturing will be lost to lower costs locations in Asia. In contrast, the ADAMCIT segment will drive developments in the European EMS industry and will change the overall landscape, with an increasing proportion of manufacturing undertaken in CEE/MENA and further acquisitions and consolidation among the Group 2 and 3 companies.