Danish delight

Danish installers aren’t feeling the pinch yet as a stream of government funded installations and one of the biggest summits in the world provide lucrative opportunities.

For three years Denmark has held the title of the “happiest place in the world”. The accolade is based on standards of health, welfare and education and is supported by awards that include the “second most peaceful country” and the “least corrupt country”. The honours may seem vague and unquantifiable but they represent a country that ranks highly in terms of GDP, employment and education.

Informationsteknik, Danish supplier of audiovisual systems, has enjoyed the favourable market conditions within the wealthy Nordic country for around 35 years. Almost 12 years ago Jesper Rosgaard, area sales manager responsible for larger projects in Denmark, joined the company and says that the Danish audiovisual industry is solid and growing in certain areas.

“We see the audiovisual market in general is growing, particularly in the low-end of the market. In terms of revenue, education is a big one for the low end market,” says Rosgaard. “The projector and smart board companies are doing pretty well because that sort of technology, used in education, has just taken off here. It has been that way in the UK for a number of years and that has been copied in Denmark in the last couple of years and is really taking off now.”

However, Rosgaard explains Informationsteknik is not involved in this particular market, preferring to focus on “high-end” audiovisual installations. Although he believes this market is not growing as fast as the education-fuelled low-end he pinpoints areas of expansion he has noticed at his company.

“We are doing more and more in terms of cinegraphic light, cinegraphic projection. However, I would still say the traditional high-end installations are doing the best for us right now. So we are installing a lot of advanced boardroom equipment, advanced video conferencing equipment. In the last year or two we have we have also done a number of 3D cinema installations, both in traditional cinemas and large companies.”

Asked why the recent move to 3D, Rosgaard replies: “I can’t say it’s because it has become possible because the technology has been available for quite a few years. What has changed is the quality of 3D technology and projectors has improved in the last couple of years. Also if a large company wants to be seen to be at the cutting edge, using the latest technology then 3D is an obvious choice. It can be a status thing for companies that can afford it.”

There has also been a surge in the uptake of conference system in Denmark, fuelled largely by government and a push for local councils to modernise their systems. “We just won a contract for the Danish parliament changing their microphone and voting system. A lot of city halls are also providing good business. They want more advanced microphone systems with voting and the capability of streaming both audio and video data from the meeting so all meetings are public.”

With so many markets thriving in Denmark it’s hard to find a trace of the pessimism that seems to have pervaded so many industries in the wake of the global financial crisis. Rosgaard admits there has been a slight slow down in the last couple of months but remains resolutely positive. “Last year we did better than ever, this year we are not sure if we will generate the same revenue. But it looks okay from our side and we don’t think that there is a collapse, just a minor problem.

“I think the companies that will suffer the least will be the ones that can get government contracts. It is the private market, and particularly the larger companies in Denmark that are postponing larger audiovisual projects. Right now, the projects are not cancelled, just postponed. The feedback we get from some of the companies we work with is, for example, if they were going to build a large auditorium that had been planned for many years, that might be cancelled or postponed. But they still buy LCD screens, projectors and equipment for smaller installations. We expect the situation will stabilise within the next six months and next year looks pretty good. We’re not complaining yet.”

Another reason not to worry is that this year Denmark will host the 2009 global climate summit. The summit, to be held in Copenhagen, is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), a result of the 1992 Conference on Environment and Development. The meeting in Copenhagen is expected to draw approximately 10,000 participants from 170 countries and is good news for the industry.

“Right now hotels are being built because there are not enough to host the influx of visitors. These hotels need audiovisual equipment. We will be fitting out rooms, conference facilities and larger ballrooms. Of course it’s also a massive rental opportunity and we have a large rental division. We expect to be very busy supporting that event this year. I would say this is the biggest event to be held in Denmark in terms of audiovisual rental – I would say the biggest ever.”

In regards to audiovisual installations, another noteworthy event in Denmark is the Danish national radio and TV facility. Rosgaard explains: “They are building a brand new facility with studios and a concert hall. The building and concert hall was designed by the French architect, Jean Nouvel. It is lit up with video and light projections at night-time and is a massive building so that of course requires a lot of large projectors to cover it. We will also do video and cinegraphic light installations inside the building, using Panasonic projectors. For me, this project was the highlight for the industry in 2008.”

With such an apparent wealth of opportunity in the country I was interested to find out who was installing all these projects. “It’s not easy to find skilled workers,” said Rosgaard. “The unemployment rates in Denmark are historically low (although rising this month). So we are in the same situation as most engineering companies both on the installation and engineering side, but also on the sales side. It is difficult to recruit the number of people we would like to. Furthermore it is very difficult for foreign workers to enter the country and if they do come in they are not employed in this market because they do not have the skills – they are generally lower skilled employees.”

Looking to next year, Rosgaard can’t foresee any huge problems in the market place, but he can anticipate a lot of opportunities. “We already have orders booked for 3D installations and the video streaming market is growing rapidly with the transformation of city councils.” In Rosgaard’s eyes, Denmark certainly has reason to be the happiest place in the world.

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