Furniture target ‘doable’

THE Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation (CFIF) Inc. is confident of hitting its five- to six-percent growth target this year because of an improving economy in the United States, its biggest market.

“The global economy is slowly getting better. We’ve seen the US housing sector improving; with that, we are confident that at least we’d hit our targets for the year,” said CFIF president Robert Booth.

Booth said that CFIF members have been working so hard on research and product development, and have been joining local and international trade fairs to stay relevant in the midst of a tough market.

“We’ve been through the biggest economic challenges in the past,” he said, noting that the 2007 global crisis was by far the worst crisis the industry went through.

CFIF, which had 150 members during that time, now has 75 members. Many of the furniture companies in Cebu shut down operations while some shifted to other businesses. “But this time, we are a bit confident. What we are hoping for, though, is further improvement of the credit situation in the US because the housing sector is credit-dependent,” said Booth. His Cebu-based Mehitabel Inc. had two factories with 1,500 employees prior to the economic recession. At present, the company maintains one factory with 350 employees.

The US is currently the top destination of Philippine furniture exports, with a 70 to 75 percent share.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show revenues from exports of furniture and fixtures reached $242.335 million in 2013, up from $179.71 million in the previous year. The CFIF is embracing a positive outlook for 2015. Booth, however, said they will be setting a conservative growth target of five to seven percent next year.

“Furniture demographics are changing. We’ve got a generation that is heading for retirement with movements from bigger to small houses. We’ve also got a generation, called the ‘techie generation’, that spends a lot on gadgets rather than furniture, but eventually, this market will eventually mature, get married one day and buy houses and furniture,” said Booth.


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