Thai furniture firms evolve to deal with tougher competition
MANY THAI furniture enterprises have responded to increased international competition by diversifying – going from being only producers to becoming designers and interior-decorating advisers.
Kerati Sermpraphasilp, president of the Thai Furniture Industries Association, said: “Thai furniture manufacturers realised that we could not compete with low labour costs like in China or Vietnam. So we have added value to become home-decor advisers and service providers for homes, hotels, and resorts in many markets, particularly in Asean.”
The association said furniture exports to Asean markets, particularly Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, had increased from only about 2 per cent to more than 10 per cent in the past four years.
Furniture exports to Asean markets mostly involve design and innovation for homes, hotels, and resort decoration, Kerati said.
With rising demand to Asean nations and many other countries, the association expects that Thai furniture exports will expand by 5 per cent this year. Kerati said that was largely due to emerging markets and the policy to promote Thailand as a hub of the Asean furniture industry.
“With good design and quality manufacturing, Thailand has become a centre of furniture production,” he said.
“Although labour costs have been increasing, local manufacturers have tried to adopt new technology and designs to cope with the tougher competition.”
Another factor contributing to the rosy outlook this year for Thai furniture exports is the recovering US economy.
Malee Choklumlerd, director-general of the Commerce Ministry’s International Trade Promotion Department, said Thailand’s furniture exports rose 4.12 per cent to US$1.09 billion (Bt37.75 billion) last year.
To support furniture exports, the “Thailand International Furniture Fair” will be held from March 8-12 at Challenger Hall, Muang Thong Thani.
It aims to convey the message that Thai furniture makers are capable and ready to adjust their creativity to produce products with unique designs, as well as provide consultation for interior decoration and after-sales service.