Furniture makers hit by Yolanda

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Thursday, January 16, 2014


AS if the market conditions are not challenging enough, the country’s furniture exporters said the super typhoon that battered the Visayas region also affected their industry indirectly.

Christina Gaston, who chairs the Philippines International Furniture Show (PIFS), said many raw materials and semi-processed goods that they use in their furniture came from different areas of the Visayas, including Leyte and Samar. Looms for weaving and the weavers, in particular, were some of the most important things they lost in their supply chain.

Still, the delays in sourcing of materials is just one of many problems they are facing and stakeholders who have remained are not letting it dampen their spirits.

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Despite this and other troubles facing the industry, Gaston and members of the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation are optimistic that this year’s PIFS will be their best one yet.

Now on its third year, the show combines the smaller trade shows that the furniture organizations of Cebu, Manila and Pampanga used to host separately. Now they jointly organize the PIFS and plan for the industry as one group.

Though their traditional markets caused problems for most furniture exporters, many of them are finding hope in the domestic market.

Ruby Salutan, a consultant of CFIF, admitted that it is another challenge providing for the different needs of the local market but said that the fastest growth in the industry comes from the domestic side. The construction boom has brought about the growth of the local market, as residences, condominiums, hotels, resorts and restaurants all begged to be furnished with quality furnishings.

In Manila alone, 37 new luxury hotels with 11,000 rooms are expected to open while 9,500 hotel rooms are expected to be completed in 2016. And as the country’s economy continues to improve, so does the spending power of its locals, who demand better homes with better furniture.

“People are very optimistic in the local market. As a business, we go to where the financial rewards are most lucrative. We constantly look for ways to grow the business and make the business sustainable,” Gaston said.

However, they are not letting go of the overseas market just yet, having scheduled the PIFS within the Asian spring buying circuit when shows are scheduled around the region. The PIFS will take place at the SMX Convention Center in Manila from March 14 to 17, just after the international show in Singapore ends.

They expect over 6,000 visitors from 66 countries, including the United States, Japan, Australia, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, United Kingdom, China South Korea and the Netherlands.

Creativity

“The creativity and flair of the Filipino designers guarantees that this will be an important stop for local and international interior designers, specifiers and buying professionals, who are already in the region for the Asia Pacific shows,” Gaston said.

She assured that most of the participating companies are from Cebu and that some 60 exhibitors are already confirmed for the show.

Aside from just selling to top companies, local furniture companies also benefit from the networking they engage in during the show, as it gives them a chance to find out what customers are looking for and what else they can do.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 17, 2014.

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