German companies are trying not to let themselves be spooked by the economic slowdown in China, even if they concede they are currently seeing a drop in demand for their products there. "Of course we're experiencing a fall-off in demand in China at the moment," said Franz Hampel, head of Garant-Moebel, a furniture wholesaler.
"Our Chinese partners have become jumpy. Business has been good for them the past few years. But they're now asking themselves what the future will bring," Hampel said.
Employing a workforce of around 230 and active in around 20 countries, Garant-Moebel opened an office in Hong Kong two years ago where it employs a dozen people.
However, the strong fluctuations in the Chinese currency, the yuan, resulting from the country's recent financial woes, are leading Chinese furniture retailers to roll back business, Hampel said. Garant-Moebel is not alone in watching economic developments in People's Republic with a wary eye.
"It seems obvious that the period of double-digit growth is behind us," said Jan-Christoph Block, head of international sales at drive systems specialist Getriebebau Nord in Bargteheide, north Germany.
"It's still possible to achieve growth, but it's become more difficult," he said. Both companies can be seen as representative of the mostly family-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) that form the backbone of the German economy and were quick to establish a foothold in China. It is not just big companies like Volkswagen, BMW and BASF that are suffering from China's woes, the SMEs are feeling the pinch too.