March 19, 2014 - (Fordaq) Furniture is very much in the news this month in Malaysia as two annual furniture fairs were held in Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian furniture industry has come a long way since its early days when it developed its trade in rubberwood products.
International demand for Malaysian furniture is strong and 2013 exports were worth RM7.4 billion, the US, Japan, Australia, Singapore and UK were the top buyers in 2013. Malaysia is the eighth ranked global furniture exporter.
In recent years Malaysian exporters have been facing growing competition from Chinese furniture exporters as well as exporters in Vietnam where, in 2013, furniture exports were worth US$4.5 billion.
The Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) was held over five days and featured over 500 manufacturers from 13 countries including China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam, Iran and the host country. Sales during the five days of MIFF 2013 have been estimated at RM2.8 billion (approx. US$854 million), up by about 5% on last year. One of the highlights of the latest MIFF were the industry seminars with topics such as „shaping of Malaysian designs for the global market‟, „Intellectual property for the furniture industry‟, and „Award-winning US-patented high temperature drying technology for rubberwood‟, a technology developed by the Forest Research Institute Malaysia.
“MIFF provides a strategic platform for furniture businesses, contract buyers, international chain stores, hoteliers, architects and interior decorators to meet and source for their requirements and establish business networks,” said Mohd Ridzal, Deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.
An Export Furniture Exhibition (EFE) 2014 was also held in Kuala Lumpur together with MIFF. The EFE fair had 110 exhibitors displaying a wide range of furniture from Malaysia as well as overseas. The EFE 2014 is not exclusively a trade only fair but also caters to consumers with local visitors making purchases on the spot. During the 2013 EFE, in-fair sales are said to have totalled around RM2.2 billion (approx. US$ 680 million). EFE exhibitors are that a 10 – 20% increase in sales was achieved during the EFE 2014.
Industry analysts speculate that the furniture industry in Malaysia will expand to meet growing demand and as manufacturers in China face increasing production costs, especially rising wages. Currently, Malaysian production costs are about the same as those in China but are not expected to increase significantly in the short term.
Analysts also point out the success of Malaysian producers in meeting international quality and delivery requirements. The Malaysian government is making a determined effort to get manufacturers to move up the value chain and become „brand manufacturers‟.
This article is originally published at Fordaq.