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Niche products are driving growth in the personal protective equipment (PPE) market while multi-functional PPE attracts new custom, according to business consultants Frost & Sullivan.

The consultants said that the Western European market for industrial PPE was worth some €1.3 billion in 2005, but is forecast to grow to €1.6 billion by 2012.

This is despite growing price pressure from competitors in the Far-East as European manufacturers concentrate on both niche products and improving the performance comfort and style of their PPE products.

Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Kumud Verma, said: "With increasing market saturation and price competition, most industrial protective clothing companies are under price pressures and are operating in volatile environments.

"Even as companies are being forced to adopt cost-cutting measures, improve operating efficiency and deliver results, niche products such as chainsaw protective clothing and demand for multi-functional clothing continue to offer new market opportunities."

Indeed, Frost & Sullivan claimed that sales of European PPE have already been boosted by a fresh emphasis on multi-functional clothing.

The consultants added that this market approach promoting product features and quality at the expense of price will further increase the significance of PPE products among end-users.

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