Furniture manufacturers, retailers told to prepare for export opportunities

29 Apr 2020 / 10:14 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian furniture industry players should prepare themselves for opportunities to export various types of furniture to the United States (US), post-Covid-19.

Thomas Russell, senior editor of US online daily Furniture Today, said manufacturers and retailers in Malaysia should maintain a strong partnership with their respective US customers and keep a close eye on the latest development and situation in the US.

“Some states in the US are opening up again starting May 1, and orders are being re-sent.

“As Malaysia has a strong product line for categories such as home office, living room and dining room, this would be an opportunity for growth,“ he said in the ‘Post Covid-19: The Change in Global Furniture Landscape: What is Ahead?’ webinar session, organised by the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF).

Russell also said that it is important for manufacturers and retailers to maintain a steady workforce.

“Stay focused on your strength and minimise weaknesses. Understand how new designs can help people work better and be ready for market to return,“ he said.

Meanwhile, Wang Ming Liang, founder and director of Shanghai Sinoexpo Informa Markets International Exhibition Co. Ltd said as China’s economic environment begins to recover, supplies of raw materials are also expected to resume.

However, Wang noted that bigger and more sustainable businesses would be able to continue to grow, but the higher labour cost might cause the smaller ones to close down.

“The trend now is to go online. For example, IKEA China, which launched its online sales platform in March, saw its online sales doubling that of its offline sales; this shows that online shopping is becoming more popular, especially among the younger generation.

“Additionally, more organisers are also going for online exhibitions using various platforms, including mobile apps such as WeChat which are convenient for businesses, professionals and consumers,“ said Wang.

On another note, Helmut Max Merkel, editor-in-chief of Germany’s news portal for the furniture industry, MÖBELMARKT, said the furniture industry’s situation in Europe, particularly in Germany, remains uncertain.

He said most businesses are still not allowed to operate and it has been difficult to forecast the Covid-19 situation.

“As experts expect a decrease in the economic growth, many jobs, especially in the tourism and hospitality industry, will be affected, and this is impacting demand for furniture.

“Our hope is that the locals could spend more for domestic needs, including furniture, and housing construction could become stable which may help the industry,“ said Merkel. -Bernama

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