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And so into 2021 We Go… O


n behalf of the publishers and staff of Components in Electronics (CIE) I welcome you to the 2021 edition of CIE Distributor Directory. Now in its 28th year, Distributor


Directory is recognised as the go-to guide for ‘buyers’ searching for new suppliers and for engineers seeking new components to update an existing product or to maximise the performance of a new design. Change is inevitable but change in the electronics industry always throws up ‘issues’ and by any measure 2020 was an ‘issue’ ridden year for all of us. Hopefully 2021 will prove to be much better, but as always, it’s the magnitude of change and the ‘unknown unknowns’ that will most challenge components manufacturers, authorised distributors and their customers. But l’m getting ahead of myself… At the end of each year the Electronic Components Supply Network (ecsn) publishes its authorised distributor (afdec) members’ Forecast for the year in prospect. A general lack of visibility in the global market compelled the association to limit its Forecast for 2020 to the first half of the year and provide ‘guidance’ only for the second. Regretfully we’ve had to adopt the same policy for 2021 as if anything market visibility is even more opaque, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will update our Forecast for the full year towards the end of the first half of 2021 and as always, you’ll be able to read the latest ecsn updates in the pages of Components in Electronics.


The ecsn / afdec UK market performance 2020 - 2021 The graphic “Forecast Billings – 2021” shows the actual Billings (sales


revenue) performance achieved by ecsn’s afdec members in the UK and Ireland electronic components market to the end of Q3’20. The green line shows the upper range of our 2021 Forecast. The blue line is an indication of the lower range while the purple line shows the predicted midpoint. The shape of the pink line reflects the UK’s historical trend of stronger performance in the first half of the year than in the second but note how all three lines are running counter to the established trend, a possible forewarning of supply problems in the second half of the year. It was hardly surprising that Brexit apathy ruled among manufacturer authorised distributors in 2020 as the government had repeatedly sought to drag UK organisations through abortive planning processes during the year. Distributors were however forced into a flurry of activity at the end of Q4 as customers sought to mitigate against possible delays by pulling forward shipments originally scheduled for delivery in the first weeks of January ’21 to the closing weeks of 2020, which resulted in an artificial boost in electronic components “Billings” at the end of Q4’20 that will inevitably be reflected negatively in Q1’21 results.


The blue bars in the graphic “DTAM By Quarter for 2015 – 2021” include the consolidated sales revenues reported by ecsn’s afdec members’ to Q3’20. The yellow and red bars indicate their Forecast for Q4’20 and 1H’21, and their ‘guidance’ for the second half of the year is indicated by the ‘hatched’ yellow and red bars. In the absence of finalised figures for Q4’20 in December last year we had to estimate the likely outcome for the full year. The consensus opinion of our members was that sales in the UK electronic components market would show a decline in 2020 between (10%)-to-(6%), with a midpoint of (8%). Looking forward, they also predicted that the outcome for 1H’21 would be in the range (2%)- to-4%, with a midpoint of 0.5% growth but were optimistic that a strengthening market in the second half of the year would lead to sales figures for the full year showing growth in the range 0%-to-6.5%, with a midpoint of 2.7%. Albeit modest, this will be a welcome improvement over the decline our industry suffered in 2020 but also underlines our members’ expectation that 2021 will be a year of slow recovery, with most growth occurring in the second half of the year.


vi


European Demand reflecting demand in Global Electronic Components Markets… European electronic component markets experienced a modest recovery in demand in Q4‘20, primarily due to a return to growth in automotive manufacture after the economic crash in the first half of the year. The US and the Japanese markets experienced similar but stronger growth pattens and were also able to report modest improvements in other market sectors. The structure of the European electronic components supply network has much in common with those in the US and Japan, in that these countries also benefit from a diverse customer base driven primarily by industrial, automotive, aerospace, network computing and communication manufacturers. They also share a broadly similar historical business cycle, typically experiencing their strongest growth in the first half of the year, which peaks in Q2 before dropping off into the second half of the year. The typical electronic components business cycle in Asia- Pac countries historically runs counter-cyclical to European economies, in that they invariable experience their strongest growth in the second half, generally peaking in November before tailing off into the first half of the following year. The different business cycles in the east and the west helps to balance out the global demand for electronic components throughout the calendar year, but indications are that the European, US and Japanese electronic components markets will all follow a very similar trend line in the second half of 2021.


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