GTC 2016: The future of Asia’s furniture growth hinges on confidence in timber market

Panellists during the session on Global Outlook in Timber: Demand, Supply and Market Prospects at the Global Timber Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The current state of Asia’s furniture production and consumption market appears to be better than anywhere else but future growth would hinge on confidence in the timber market.

The expansion capacities of furniture manufacturers—mostly private enterprises—are often limited by finance, which banks or investors would only invest if they see profitability in the business, remarked consultant Michael Buckley of Turnstone Singapore.

“Growth in global furniture markets over the long term should give grounds for confidence, but a lot of furniture is in danger of being offered too cheap and going the way of the clothing industry, limiting profitability,” he said.

Mr Buckley was one of the panellists during the session on Global Outlook in Timber: Demand, Supply and Market Prospects at the Global Timber Conference in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Other to complications to growth include stagnated productivity, talent drain, high dependence on exports of low-value OEM and ODM furniture, ineffective branding and marketing strategies, owner-operated and labour-intensive business models.

Mr Jamaluddin Che Murad, vice president of the Malaysian Furniture Council, stressed that the industry must counter these issues with a long-term vision and government support on initiatives “to pull talent from advanced countries, encourage M&A and foreign direct investment to spur [industry] dynamism.”

Manufacturers must also begin to recognise lifestyle trends and changing needs such as space-saving and smart furniture for small apartments in highly-dense cities. 

 

Look out for a full report in Panels & Furniture Asia (Nov/Dec issue)