Europe’s fluorescent ban will hit Signify’s conventional business this quarter

Jan. 3, 2024
The run of “last buys” has ended, which will show in the results of the company’s smallest - but still sizeable - division when it reports later this month.

Europe’s ban of fluorescent lighting products has been generally good news for vendors of LED illumination. But if you’re the world’s largest lighting company and your product stable still also includes fluorescent lamps and luminaires, the story is mixed. 

That will be the case at industry number one Signify after it adds up the numbers for the fourth quarter which just ended on Dec. 31.

While Signify receives a vast majority of its revenues from LED products, its “Conventional Products” division — fluorescent and other non-LED technologies — still contributes. In the third quarter ending Sept. 30, Conventional tallied €145 million of the €1.65 billion in overall revenue. The division has been shrinking, but it now looks headed toward a particularly sharp decline.

“What happens in Q4 is that we are going to have quite a negative impact on the Conventional Products due to the ban of the fluorescent technology,” Rondolat said during a call with analysts in late October when discussing third-quarter results. 

The European Union prohibits placing new fluorescent tubes and bulbs into the market. The ban came into force in stages by product category starting last February, and took full force in September, with the U.K. trailing behind by about six months.

The E.U. does not prohibit the sale of fluorescent products already in the market, or the use of existing fluorescent products.

“So this is something that we slightly benefited from in the previous quarters because customers were doing last buys, but it will start to impact that business and quite substantially in Q4, where we would expect that business to be probably worse than minus 30% in terms of negative performance,” Rondolat said during the October call.

The ban falls under an E.U. directive known as RoHS, which stands for Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment. RoHS has existed since 2003, applying to all sorts of goods. In fluorescent lighting the initiative targets mercury, a common and hazardous substance in linear fluorescent tubes and lamps. The Minamata Convention — a 2013 UN treaty that took effect in 2017 — aims to control the release of mercury throughout the metal’s value chain. It has in recent years targeted fluorescent lighting, culminating in an agreed phase-out by 2027. Signify’s Rondolat has contributed ideas on how to accomplish this.

LED lighting vendors including Norway’s Glamox and Sweden’s Fagerhult Group have both reported either a lift or an expected lift from the ban, with Glamox recently outfitting a Norwegian hospital with LED lighting to replace fluorescent tubes.

Meanwhile, Signify sales of LED lighting to the indoor professional market have been weak. The company will report its 2023 fourth quarter and full year results on Jan. 26.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.