After eight consecutive years, job cuts in the furniture industry finally came to a standstill in 2005 as the industry slowly recovery from a deep recession, the Israel Association of Furniture Manufacturers said Tuesday. "We went through a recession in the past few years, particularly 2002 and 2003, which has led to many job cuts," Haim Hermann, the group's chairman, told The Jerusalem Post. "The industry has seen the start of a revival in the second half of 2005". Between 1996 and 2004, a total of 5,400 employees were forced out of jobs in the furniture industry. Today, the industry employs a work force of 10,400 people. The Furniture Association, under the auspices of the Manufacturers' Association of Israel, said that in 2005 furniture sales increased by 5.7 percent to NIS 4.97 billion from 2004 levels. Furniture sales in the local market rose 6.6% to NIS 4.79b., while furniture export sales in 2005 increased by 4.5% to a total of $40 million. The average per capita expenditure for a furniture item was NIS 254 in 2005, a 1% increase over the previous year. "It is not that people are necessarily buying more furniture, but they are increasingly buying furniture in the local market," said Hermann. Hermann added that the Association had recently invested much effort in committing its members to improve and ensure good customer service and quality tailored to the Israeli consumer including, among other things, minimum one-year warrantees and keeping sound delivery conditions. "We have seen moderate growth in our sales in 2005 but there is more sales demand coming in 2006. You can feel a revival," said Uri Segre, CEO of Riviera, a wood furniture manufacturer. "Israeli furniture companies have proven themselves. The quality and confidence in Israeli-made furniture is rising." Analyzing the export sales, wood furniture sales in 2005 increased by 36% to $15.2m., whereas metal furniture export rose 28% to $900,000. Furniture import in 2005 rose by 4.3% to $265m.