Malaysia does not have a very long history of furniture designing. As a new player in the industry, it is common for manufacturers not being able to produce furniture of their own designs. In most cases, buyers would provide the designs to manufacturers with the aim of getting better quality products at cheaper prices so that they themselves may improve their profit margins.
At this point, manufacturers would have no choice as they wish to conclude the deal and as such, would normally oblige with the requested prices as well as better quality. This was the trend in Malaysia and so was it the trend in other newly established furniture producing countries.
With a good infrastructure, ample raw materials, state of the art telecommunication, a well design road, rail, air and sea network, Malaysia with all her attributes quickly grew up the ranks and was more or less bogged down with only these type of orders from all over the world.
We were fast to encroach the markets that were traditionally dominated by the Taiwanese manufacturers and when word spread around the buyers, Malaysian manufacturers were soon very much in demand and sought after.
Being inundated with orders and enjoying brisk business, the industry did not realize the need to look to the future when other countries would impact us with what we had inflicted to the Taiwanese over the years. We had perhaps been too relaxed in our own environment that we neglected to prepare to protect ourselves.
Being swamped by orders from buyers for existing designs meant that manufacturers did not have to worry about designs
They only need to learn how to manufacture a sample given to them. This had resulted in contentment among the industry and whilst enjoying their success, they had failed to realize the dangers of their contentment and became dangerously complacent.
The main reason why the industry had failed to develop their design capabilities was simply because there was no need to produce any other designs other than those requested by the buyers.
This is where the problem starts. When buyers begin to turn to other furniture supplying countries with orders which were originally destined for Malaysia, our manufacturers soon realized that they had no buyers to produce for and they also had nothing to sell or offer to other buyers.
This situation had then forced them to re strategize using what I call the “R & M method”. “R” stands for “Research” and “M” stands for “Modify”.
What do they research and what do they modify?
Research in this sense means our manufacturers would try to look for new designs already exhibited at furniture trade exhibitions around the world, this is the Research part. Next they would come back to Malaysia and try to find ways and means to Modify the design so that it does not bring them any problems when they try to offer the seemingly new product in the international market.
Sadly speaking, the R & M strategy only lasted a short while and soon other foreign manufacturers were quick to realize the threat from allowing Malaysians to visit their exhibition booths. This resulted in the cold shoulder treatment that our manufacturers faced when they try to visit other foreign manufacturer’s exhibition booths.
Then our manufacturers went a step further. This time, when visiting exhibitions, they managed to change identities and even nationalities, and posed as buyers from other Asian countries so that they may be allowed into the booths. It is really sad to know that as a globally recognized furniture producing country, our manufacturers have to go “undercover” in order to develop their businesses.
Perhaps not so much now as the “undercover” reputation has been passed to some of our other competitors, but at one point in time, Malaysians were really not welcomed into booths at some international furniture exhibitions.
For a start, we were enjoying so much by producing existing designs for buyers. Some people would term this as an Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) arrangement.
Going back to our design history, when we realized the orders were not coming our way anymore, we moved on to the 2nd phase where we had adopted the “undercover” concept of R & M. Sadly speaking, that did not work out well either. So you can see why our history of furniture designing has not been really illustrious.
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Furniture Industry Growth for the past decade
The Malaysian furniture manufacturing and export industry can be said to have enjoyed a brief but illustrious history. From its humble beginnings as a cottage based industry back in the late 70s, the industry started to export only in the mid 80s.
Early records show that our exports were only RM 26 million in 1985 and through the years, we had quickly developed to become a multi billion Ringgit industry. In just 8 short years, we had breached the RM 1 billion mark by recording RM 1.228 billion in 1993.
From that point on, the double digit growth experienced by the industry quickly saw us recording RM 2.078 billion in 1995, RM 3.094 billion in 1997 and almost breaking the RM 5 billion mark with RM 4.923 billion in 1999.
The advent of the Malaysian International Furniture Fair or MIFF series in 1995 had also played a pivotal role in shaping the history of Malaysian furniture manufacturing and exports. Having the annual exhibition held in our own backyard meant that Malaysian furniture manufacturers could take advantage of home ground conveniences and cost savings to meet with furniture buyers from all over the world.
The popularity of the MIFF grew at the same rate as the popularity of Malaysian furniture demand worldwide and this had worked out very well for our industry.
Getting back to our export history, Malaysia finally breached the RM 5 billion mark with RM 5.597 billion in 2000 but this figure is likely to have been inflated by the depreciation and eventual pegging of the Ringgit against the US Dollar.
In 2001, in line with gloomy global market conditions, our exports dipped by 13.8 % at RM 4.821 billion but only for one year after which we had quickly rebounded to RM 5.238 billion in 2002.As for 2003, preliminary figures as at August 2003 shows that we had already recorded RM 3.7 billion worth of exports.
Projecting this to cover the rest of the year, and considering that the second half of the year is always slightly better, we are anticipating to record in the RM 5.6 – 5.8 billion region.
This means that we can look forward perhaps to surpassing our previous high achieved in 2000. However, these values are still based on the current US Dollar to Ringgit Malaysia conversions.
In the year 1997, Malaysian furniture exports were recorded at RM 3.094 billion or USD 1.238 billion and if we continue to use the rate of RM 2.50 to a USD, the value of exports in 2002 was still only USD 1.378 billion. This means that in USD real terms, we have not really improved as much as we think we did in Ringgit Malaysia terms.
FURNITURE DESIGN TO KICK START EVOLUTION TO THE INDUSTRY
The Furniture Design Services Programme (FDSP) under the Furniture Design Division (FDD) is a flagship project by the Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council (MFPC) to cultivate and nurture young designers in its vision to effectively establish Malaysia as a globally recognised source of world class furniture.
Launched in May last year, freshly graduated and/or working furniture designers with backgrounds in furniture or interior designing are contracted to work hand in hand with key Malaysian furniture manufacturers.
The programme enables both parties to share a mutual understanding in developing world class furniture designs using high technology production capabilities, catering to discerning taste and conforming to global standards. This collaboration will be fully guided and supported by the MFPC and other authorities in the industry.
The objectives of the FDD programme are to cultivate a design oriented furniture industry in Malaysia in addition to creating new furniture designs, to research or analyse furniture design trends for Malaysian companies and to create a vibrant pool of Malaysian furniture designers.
Realising these objectives would strengthen Malaysia’s position in the international arena and establish it as a world class provider of original designs.
Under this programme, the designers are contracted by the MFPC over a three month period with all expenses borne by the MFPC. During this period, designers can either be attached to specific furniture manufacturers or given the flexibility of working independently at the MFPC or at their own facilities.
The designer will specialise in producing a specific range of furniture such as bedroom, dining, living or outdoor with the objective of determining suitable product lines and designs that would be appropriate to the manufacturer’s interests and purposes.
In the first month of the programme, both the manufacturer and designer develops a mutual understanding to acknowledge each party’s interests and available resources to fully utilise the resources for maximum benefits and results.
The designers are given the opportunity to explore their ideas and concepts and communicate them in sketches for performance evaluation. Following the evaluation at the end of the first month, qualified designers will be invited to continue with the programme for the next two months. Designers are selected based on a set of criteria including creativity of design, quality, practicality and choice of material used.
The sketches evaluated are then developed into designs in the second month of the FDD programme.
The evaluation process continues where selected designers are invited to continue with the programme for the following month for prototyping.
In the final month of the FDD programme, furniture designs are transformed into full scale technical drawings with the view to prototype development. Successful prototypes mark an evolution in the furniture design industry where Malaysia can be elevated to a higher level in the international market.
Following the evaluation by a panel of industry experts with much emphasis placed on design excellence, outstanding designs will be given the opportunity to participate in the Malaysian Furniture Design Showcase organised by the MFPC, in recognition and appreciation of the designers’ endeavour. Designers graduating from this programme are placed in the industry with high recommendations from the MFPC to continue the effort of realising the MFPC’s objectives and goals.
Since its launch in May, the FDD programme has produced rewarding outcomes with successful placements of designers in the furniture industry
Up to this date, five designers have “graduated” and been recruited by industry players. Another five in the midst of placement with the manufacturers whilst two were taken in permanently as employees of the MFPC. There are also four designers working independently after their completion of this programme.
In the current batch of nine designers attached to the FDD programme, five are on a full time basis and the rest are on a part time basis. The MFPC is confident to place this batch into the industry upon graduation next year.
The MFPC, a specialised task force entrusted by the Malaysian Government to promote and further develop the furniture industry towards future excellence, strives to bring the Malaysian furniture industry to greater heights and ensure its ongoing success for years to come.
In its efforts towards mapping Malaysia in the global context of world class furniture, the MFPC focuses on a two-pronged strategy, namely Design Enhancement and Market Enhancement. All in all, the strategic devices planned and to be materialised in the next few years are aimed towards elevating Malaysia’s position and image in the international context.
Mr Paul Wang, Chief Operating Officer of the MFPC comments, “Design enhancement of Malaysian furniture is the key to work alongside market enhancement. These two strategies should work hand in hand to realise our commitments and objectives.
Malaysian manufacturers realise that its industry’s pillar of support lies in the expertise of furniture designers
This is because changes are constantly taking place in this volatile industry and the only way to keep up with the changing trends and demands of the industry besides competing in the price war is to become a trend setter.
To move away from the low markets and penetrate into the medium to high end markets, it is vital for us to propagate our own designs with branding, packaging and strategic promotional efforts. Not only does the industry need to realise the need to change, it must also be ready to accept and implement the changes.”
“It is important for us to progress from Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) to Original Design Manufacturing (ODM) and later achieving the Original Brand Name (OBN) status towards Malaysia’s future excellence.
Therefore, the MFPC strategically develops its programmes and activities surrounding this issue. In addition to providing quality education and high-end training facilities under the FDD programme, we will also expose the furniture designers to evolving trends and foreign expertise through seminars and workshops,” Mr Wang adds.
With the FDD programme running throughout the year, all parties will be able to share the rewards from this mutually beneficial relationship
The industry will be able to benefit from the constant input of innovative designs, and the designers to benefit from the experience and opportunities offered within the industry.
As the programme progresses and participation intensifies, more designers will be assimilated into the manufacturing sector and ensure a smooth transition to a design oriented culture in the furniture industry.
In addition, the MFPC also attends to disclosure of industrial information and resources to students who are doing researches on the industry.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS CRUCIAL IN THE FURNITURE INDUSTRY
The Malaysian furniture industry had a humble beginning over two decades ago as a traditional cottage-based industry. Recording an export value of just RM26 million in the 80s, it has blossomed into the world’s tenth largest furniture exporting nation, exporting to over 160 countries worldwide with the export figure projected at RM6.3 billion in 2004.
Having plied the low to medium end markets for the past decade and a half, the next phase of growth for the Malaysian furniture industry is to move away and upwards towards the more lucrative segments, where the price factor is only secondary in decision making.
Image and design take over in these premium markets and therefore, export promotion has a foundation in the enhancement of furniture design.
Since due attention has turned to original creation, design has emerged as an invaluable intangible asset. The value of the fruits of creativity and innovative capacity, and its significance to the further development of the Malaysian furniture industry have called for the application of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
The Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council (MFPC), as a specialised promotional body for the Malaysian furniture industry has taken the first strides to create awareness about the importance of IPR to the furniture industry. The designationTM series, inaugurating at MIFF this year, exemplifies original designs registered under Malaysian Industrial Design.
Its mother programme, the Furniture Design Services Programme, produces furniture designers with original creations that are registered, showcased and put for sale. In addition, IPR is constantly promoted through MFPC promotional exercise such as missions, visits and MOUs with relevant local and international organisations. The MFPC is advised on IPR matters by the Industry Advisory Panel, comprising industrial experts and Consulting Advisor of IPR, Pintas IP Group Sdn. Bhd.
According to Senior Executive of MFPC Industry Planning Department, Yau Her Lerk, the general level of awareness towards IPR is at the mid range on a scale of ten but the acceptance of its importance is at the lower end of the scale.
He says, “Some of the concerns of the furniture industry players about protecting their designs are the international enforcement and the extent of protection coverage. However, it is also important that the industry understands that IPR is not a concept made for any single individual but is meant for an entire industry which embraces the idea of respecting each other’s rights to intellectual property. That being the case, IPR registration is to eliminate the hassle of asserting an individual’s rights over his creation.”
The MFPC has identified IPR as a vital factor that will elevate the Malaysian furniture industry to the next height
Once the concept of IPR is successfully embedded as part of the Malaysian furniture manufacturing culture, the industry will thrive because there will not be a need to worry about constant violation of design, thus motivating designers to come up with original creations and allowing manufacturers to focus on their productivity.
This conducive environment is the ideal set up for the industry to achieve the national objective of penetrating into the medium-to-high end segments of the global market and eventually be accepted in the niche markets – an advantage for the most prominent players in the global furniture arena, like Italy and Germany.
Yau adds, “The MFPC gives a substantial weight to the promotion, application and enforcement of IPR
We will continue to propagate the importance of IPR to the industry and highlight its contribution to the industry’s performance.
The understanding on IPR will bring to surface its required presence on the threshold of crossing to the medium-to-high market segments. It will encourage the production of original designs, prevent manufacturers to copy other designs, act as a tool to tackle the premium market segments and command better price.
IPR will help the industry to shift from the low-end market segments, where there is a concern that our idle presence will be gradually wiped out as countries like China, Vietnam, Poland and Czech Republic are mounting a strong attack to dominate the entire lower-end market of this industry globally.”
At present, although the MFPC is not directly involved in the IPR management, it is offering some guidance to the industry players who would like to register their products with technical advice from its Consulting Advisor on IPR, Pintas Consulting Group Sdn. Bhd. The Malaysian Intellectual Property Right Corporation (MIPC) or Perbadanan Harta Intelek Malaysia (PHIM), an entity under the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, is the managing body of IPR in Malaysia. The IPR registration process would involve novelty search, filing, examination, publication and grant.
It is important that the industry players be aware of the consequences of not having IPR to their own design or idea
On this note, Lok Choon Hong of Pintas IP Group Sdn. Bhd. says, “If the IPR to a design or idea is not protected within a certain time frame, the design or idea shall fall into the public domain and the creator shall not be able to exploit it for commercial gain. A worse scenario will be when a competitor may copy the design or idea, register it as its own IPR and use it against the creator.”
So what does a furniture industry player need to know about IPR? Lok has lined out the information below for the benefit of the Malaysian furniture industry players.
What is IPR?
IPR protects intangible assets like ideas, design, goodwill trademark as well as original expression of ideas. Once the said intangibles are registered and protected as IPR, the owner shall have the exclusive rights to deal with them, such as to commercialise, license or assign, for commercial gains.
What are the categories of IPR related to furniture design and manufacturing?
|Patent||Protects inventions, ie products or processes that offers technical solution to a problem||a) Article of manufactureb) Processc) Machined) composition of matter||20 years from filing date of patent|
|Trademark||Protects distinctive sign which identifies certain goods or services||a) Product Mark (TM)b) Service mark (SM)||10 years from filing date of trademark|
|Industrial Design||Protects ornamental or aesthetic aspect of industrial products||a) 3-dimensional features, eg: shape or surfaceb) 2-dimensional features, eg:-patterns or lines||Initial 5 years and can be renewed, in most cases for 15 years|
|Copyright||Protects original expression of ideas reduced to material forms.||1. literary works2. artistic works3. musical works4. sound recordings5. performing rights||Usually 50 years after the death of the authors|
How can the industry benefit from IPR?
|Defensive Shield||To own and prevent misappropriation of one’s IP assets|
|Offensive Weapon||To use IP assets to protect market and profit|
|Profit Centre||To license IP assets for royalties income|
|Integrated Role||To employ IP assets strategically to enhance the company growth and profitability in the following areas:-(a) Human Resource(b) Marketing(c) Branding(d) Product Differentiation and Innovation(e) Business Expansion(f) Tax Planning(g) Capital Raising|
Is locally registered IPR recognised globally?
IPR is jurisdictional in nature. A locally registered IPR is not protected globally. The IPR has to be registered country by country or through some international convention, such as Madrid Trademark or Hague Design, for international coverage.
FURNITURE EXPORTS – THE NEW MALAYSIAN APPROACH
The American market poses vast opportunities for Malaysian furniture manufacturers to embark.
Acknowledged as the largest furniture importer in the world in 2003, the American market is Malaysia’s top furniture export destination for the past many years.
Malaysian manufacturers should take advantage of the opportunities offered by this prospective market to augment and maximise their potential. One of the methods to achieve this aim will be through diversifying into the middle to higher end American market.
To ensure success in strengthening its foothold in the American furniture market, accurate and updated information on the market play a vital role to ascertain the most effective and productive results are achieved and mistakes, should there be any, will be at a minimal cost.
With regard to this, the Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council (MFPC) is organising its 3rd National Furniture Seminar at the Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur. Aptly titled “The New Malaysian Approach for the American Market? the MFPC believes that this half-day seminar will benefit Malaysian industry players who wish to strengthen their foothold in the American market or diversify to the middle to higher end market segments.
The invited speaker for this seminar is Mr Joseph F. Carroll from the USA. Mr Carroll has a long list of credit to his almost three decade career in the furniture industry.
He is currently publisher of Furniture/Today, the leading weekly trade publication of the American furniture industry that has over 22,000 subscribers in the US, Canada and worldwide.
In addition, Mr Carroll is author of four home furnishings tabletop books and a regular guest on the nationally acclaimed home TV show, Haven, which is sponsored by the Home Furnishings Council of the USA. He also shares his thoughts and experience regularly through speaking at industry conferences, furniture markets and sales meeting and, appears in both live and recorded broadcasts during the High Point International Home Furniture Market.
Adding on to Mr Carroll’s impressive career profile is a list of awards and titles such as “Pillar of the Industry?by the International Home Furnishing Representatives Association in 1997, past president of the American Furniture Hall of Fame and Chairman of the High Point University Home Furnishings Advisory Board to name a few.
He is currently President of the Piedmont Triad Council for International Visitors and President of Greensboro Sister Cities.
In this seminar, Mr Carroll will be sharing his experience together with useful information and advice on the American furniture industry for Malaysian manufacturers to undertake.
Through this seminar, Malaysian manufacturers will be updated with latest news and details concerning the American market including furniture trends, changes and furniture consumer lifestyle, taste and needs.
With a better understanding of the American market, this poses a lead to manufacturers in planning and devising their marketing strategies, including the need to alter existing strategies to ensure continuous growth in the American market.
Manufacturers who are already exporting to the US or wish to explore a new potential market or market segments should utilise this informative opportunity to diversify into the middle to higher end market and find their market niche. For manufacturers who are interested to undertake the American market into its company’s profile, information obtained from this seminar will provide a large step ahead in its plan for international presence in the American furniture industry.
Mr Wang, Chief Operating Officer of the MFPC comments, “The US has been Malaysia’s key exporting destination in furniture, importing more than RM 1.9 billion worth of furniture in year 2004, about 30 % of Malaysia’s total furniture exports.
However, most of the products cater to the low end market segment, where manufacturers are now facing stiff competition from other low cost producers such as China and Vietnam, who enjoys higher labour supplies and lower labour costs.
It is important for Malaysian manufacturers to realise that the only way to overcome this challenge will be to find its market niche through diversifying into the other market segments, particularly the middle to higher segment of this lucrative market.?
Malaysian furniture exports in the year 2004 recorded an astounding value worth RM 6.4 billion. Having strongly established Malaysia as a reputable furniture exporter in the world by ranking 10th largest in the world, 2nd in Asia and 1st in ASEAN in year 2004, the time calls for the industry to take on a new direction and deviate from the low end markets.
The industry has become more competitive with entries from emerging countries, thus, engaging in the price war and lowering prices to maintain market shares in the industry will only lead to hazardous results in the long run.
To excel in the international furniture arena, Malaysian manufacturers should diverge from the price war and focus on the enhancement of their global position through new design and market strategies instead.
“The MFPC focuses on a two prong approach in its strategies towards excellence, namely Design Enhancement and Market Enhancement. The Design Enhancement activities are based on its strategies which seek to propagate awareness towards the creation of international furniture designs by Malaysian designers and manufacturers.
It seeks to inculcate the importance of international property rights (IPR) and branding to Malaysian manufacturers, encouraging and facilitating the creation of Original Design Manufacturing (ODM) and Own Brand Names (OBN) in the Malaysian furniture industry.
The Market Enhancement Department, on the other hand, ascertains where Malaysia stands in existing markets and opportunities to strengthen its position in these markets via thorough research. It also conducts exploratory studies to identify new and niche markets and potential market segments, such as the American market, to enhance global coverage of Malaysian furniture,?/STRONG> Mr Wang comments.
The MFPC, playing the role as the specialised promotion council established by the Government to elevate Malaysian furniture industry’s position in international markets, has in its blueprint of objectives, a line up of market enhancement programmes and activities to further strengthen the international presence of Malaysian furniture in the global arena.
In addition to international trade fairs and exhibitions, trade missions and working visits, furniture excellence programmes (FURNEXPRO) and road shows, inviting world-renowned individuals from the furniture industry as speakers for its seminars will be part of the list of standard activities in the MFPC’s event calendar to update industry players with latest information and news about the industry and to facilitate in aligning their marketing strategies.
By working closely with Malaysian furniture manufacturers, the MFPC aspires to establish Malaysia as a recognised source of world-class furniture.
Playing the role of the mediator between the industry with its related sectors, the Government and international markets, the MFPC shares the optimism of achieving future excellence in the furniture arena.
It also believes that its 3rd National Furniture Seminar will be beneficial to all those who have participated and hopes that the information obtained will be put to good and effective use.
Kick Start for Japan-Malaysia Furniture Collaboration
Japan–Malaysia Furniture Excellence Programme (JM FURNEXPRO), aptly themed to mark the collaboration between the Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council (MFPC) and Toyo Furniture Research (TFR) Co Ltd, kick starts the MFPC’s effort to expand the Malaysian furniture industry in the Far East market.
The significant programme between the MFPC and TFR is an initial cooperation for both countries after the signing ceremony which took place in October where TFR was engaged as its market consultant in Japan.
Following the success of the Malaysian Pavilion at the International Furniture Fair Tokyo (IFFT) in November, the MFPC launched JM FURNEXPRO with the intention to capitalise on the favourable feedback received from previous Japanese fairs.
The programme took almost six months to analyse followed by another six months of strategising before implementation takes place. JM FURNEXPRO finally became concrete on 15 December 2004 and the MFPC welcomes interested manufacturers to take part in the Far East market expansion programme.
JM FURNEXPRO was formed with three main objectives in mind; for the participation in exports, image enhancement and promotion of programme group players organised by the MFPC; to organise strategic trade missions in the Far East market; and to enhance the reception of trade missions by the Far East market.
The goal of the programme is to accommodate business matching between Japanese and Malaysian companies selected based on a set of strict criteria. Various programmes and workshops will be implemented to enhance the industry’s positioning in Japan, including facilitation, training, workshops and seminars to equip our group players with the information and knowledge to strengthen their foothold in the market.
Formation of strategic alliances with contract manufacturing and/or furnishing companies such as property developers, architects, interior designers and hotels are also strategies under JM FURNEXPRO.
“As one of Malaysia’s most important markets, Japan has always been our major focus. The success at IFFT proved the versatility of Malaysia’s furniture measuring up to the market’s expectations. The buyers were impressed with the possibilities and opportunities offered by Malaysian furniture that incorporate the strong Japanese culture and values to cater for the market’s requirements.
With JM FURNEXPRO, we hope to reposition the industry into the medium-higher end market for Malaysia’s future excellence,” says Paul Wang, the MFPC’s Chief Operating Officer.
Following the agreement, TFR plays the proactive role of market consultant for the MFPC by supporting the Malaysian furniture industrialists with pre-requisite study, objective analysis and practical information to equip Malaysian furniture manufacturers and exporters adequately for a successful expansion in the Japanese market.
The MFPC will be able to take advantage of TFR’s furniture journal, a weekly publication distributed to the industry, to strengthen the position of Malaysian manufacturers in Japan. In addition, TFR also publishes an English journal every fortnightly.
In addition to that, the MFPC has also appointed Mr Kondo Hiroaki as its technical consultant based in Malaysia for the project
This is to ensure that the products appeal to the Japanese taste, conform to their high expectation of performance and spatial context and comply with the strict requirements.
The MFPC will play the vital role of the mediator between Malaysian furniture manufacturers and the Far East market with the assistance of TFR in providing the necessary information, exposure and networking.
The MFPC is responsible for the task of selecting programme groups made up of Malaysian manufacturers with product attributes that measure up to the Japanese requirements. The confirmed criteria will be announced later and qualified local manufacturers who are interested to establish their position in the Far East market are invited to join the programme.
“We aim to facilitate Malaysian furniture manufacturers to expand to the Far East market.
Our selection criteria will be strictly based on Japanese furniture standards, product technical characteristics and performance, durability and maintenance requirement, the ability to comply with the niche market needs in the contract furnishing sector and overall quality products.
This would include design, consistency, stability and durability
Programme group players will also be selected based on the profile of the manufacturer, product pricing and representation of advertising and promotional copywriting. Hence, selected groups must be committed to deliver quality products and participate in all programmes outlined in this project,” Wang added.
Japan is Malaysia’s second largest export market after USA, accounting for over RM 650 billion worth of exports or 5% of Japan’s imports in 2003. Wooden furniture, the star performer of Malaysia’s timber product sector, accounts to almost 50% of Japanese furniture imports.
With the launch of JM FURNEXPRO, bilateral ties between both countries will be further strengthened from this mutually beneficial relationship. Malaysia’s foreign exchange earning sector gains from the improved exports and Japan will benefit from Malaysian furniture that delivers value and quality.
As the specialised taskforce entrusted to position Malaysia as a global focal point for world class furniture, the MFPC has planned a string of programmes and activities to facilitate the industry and elevate Malaysia’s position as global player in the international arena.
International Furniture Fair
The Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council (MFPC) will make its inaugural appearance at the iMM cologne, an International Furniture Fair held at Cologne, Germany from January 19 to 23, 2005.
A yearly event, the imm cologne is one of the world’s leading global trade fair for the furnishing industry where the latest home trends of Europe and the overseas market are displayed. With the metropolis of Cologne lying in the heart of the European market, its purchasing power is one of the greatest in the world.
This will be a kick start for the MFPC to lead a delegation of twelve Malaysian furniture manufacturers to the auspicious event.
Malaysia’s participation in the imm cologne is truly a market enhancement and sales oriented activity, where an impressive array of local furniture will be showcased at the allocated exhibition space of 347 square metres. Our manufacturers will be amongst the thousands of exhibitors to display their furniture products to trade buyers from over 100 countries.
Established since September 2003, the MFPC is the promotional body entrusted by the government to promote and further develop the Malaysian furniture industry as a world class furniture hub.
The MFPC plays the role of a specialised taskforce to facilitate Malaysian furniture manufacturers and position Malaysia as a global player in the furniture industry.
The MFPC has lined out in its blueprint to address design-related issues encompassing research and development, education and training, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and branding.
Market Enhancement efforts tackle market and industry analysis, marketing strategies, and integrated marketing communications, image enhancement as well as market and corporate intelligence. All in all, the MFPC strives to bring the Malaysian furniture industry to a greater height and ensure the industry’s ongoing success for years to come. Thus, participation at this fair comes top in the MFPC’s priority list of activities for the Malaysian furniture manufacturers to strengthen their foothold in the European market.
Mr Paul Wang, Chief Operating Officer of the MFPC comments, “We are confident with the quality and design of our furniture products and believe that buyers will be impressed with the versatility and opportunities offered by Malaysian furniture. We hope to garner positive feedback from those visiting our exhibition booths.
Our aim is to elevate Malaysia’s position in the international arena through imm cologne in our approach to position Malaysia as a global focal point for world class furniture.”
With the focus on design and business success, this fair will give Malaysian manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their talent and capability in catering to European taste, standards and requirements. The European consumers are renowned for their emphasis on design and quality. Based on this main selection criterion, Malaysia’s innovative design and quality furniture will fulfil the European high expectation of quality and performance.
“In the volatile furniture environment with changing trends and consumer taste, it is vital for furniture manufacturers to be exposed to the changes that are surrounding the industry and react to them. In other words, exposure is very important to achieve future excellence in the furniture industry.
In addition to design enhancement, Malaysian manufacturers must also concentrate on market penetration and positioning as these are vital aspects of survival and progress in the furniture industry. It is important for the manufacturers to find their share in the niche market segment,” Wang adds.
In light if this aptitude, the MFPC has planned a string of programmes and activities in its approach to facilitate Malaysian manufacturers in finding their market niche and to complement its vision of establishing Malaysia as a globally recognised source of world class furniture.
Malaysia to Emphasise on Furniture Design
Held at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) Kuala Lumpur, the National Furniture Seminar received overwhelming response from the Malaysian furniture industry. This was proven by the attendance rate of almost 300 participants at the seminar itself.
This event that was addressed to the furniture industry was officiated by the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, YB Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui. Also present were the Deputy Minister, YB Datuk Anifah Aman, and the Parliamentary Secretary, YB Encik Ng Lip Yong, and a host of dignitaries and invited guests. Jointly organised by the MFPC and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), this seminar was an awareness activity focusing on furniture design
as the most important element that needs to be implemented by the Malaysian furniture industry in the years to come. Local furniture manufacturers were exposed to the different aspects of original design and innovation, and how these designs can be realised through the use of new technology and diversity of materials. Founder and director of the world renowned John Kelly Furniture and Accessories, Mr. John Kelly, was the distinguished speaker of the seminar.
Labelled the Frank Lloyd of furniture design, Mr. Kelly has garnered himself a string of international awards, including the most recent Furniture Show/Cabinet Maker Magazine Award 2004 Award of Excellence from the United Kingdom.
M.r Kelly’s expertise and experience has provided a resourceful insight to Malaysian furniture manufacturers on ways to keep up with the changing trends of the volatile environment.“The optimistic feedback from the seminar is an indication that furniture manufacturers are now paying more attention towards design and material diversification.
They realise the vital role of design in keeping up with the changing trends and demands of the furniture industry. This seminar explored the many facets of design and material diversification that were useful and beneficial to manufacturers and the industry in the long run.
The success of our second seminar will be an inspiration and encouragement to us in organising future events that are able to contribute to the industry,” says Mr Paul Wang, Chief Operating Officer of the MFPC.
The seminar was organised in realisation of the MFPC’s Design Enhancement strategy, of which the objectives are to cultivate a designing culture within the Malaysian furniture industry and nurture the industry in becoming design-oriented.
One of the main projects under this division is the Furniture Design Services programme, a flagship project by the MFPC dedicated to grooming young designers in order to develop world-class original furniture designs and making Malaysia a household name in the international design arena.
Under this programme, freshly graduated and/or working furniture designers are facilitated by the MFPC for a three to six months period, working together with key Malaysian manufacturers to develop new furniture designs to cater to the medium-higher global market segments.
The Honourable Minister renewed his message to the Malaysian furniture industry that having established Malaysia as the tenth largest furniture exporter in the world, a new direction must be taken to elevate our nation’s position in the world rankings. “We must now progress in a structured manner from Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) to Original Design Manufacturing (ODM) and then achieving Original Brand Name (OBN) status.
The MFPC has drawn up a strategically designed road map for the industry on this matter and the government hopes that industries take heed of this necessity and come forth with their cooperation to make this national objective a success,” he added.
As the specialised promotional council entrusted with the promotion and further development of the Malaysian furniture industry, the MFPC will continue to bring to the industry more programmes and activities that will facilitate the progress of the industry and enhance Malaysia’s image and position as a global player in the international furniture arena.
Malaysian Furniture Exports Set to Strengthen Foothold in Japan
Malaysia’s participation in the IFFT 2004 was truly a design enhancement activity, thrusting into limelight an exciting collection of Japanese-specific designs to exhibit. Showcasing an impressive collection of original Malaysian designs custom tailored in the Japanese spatial context, the Malaysian Pavilion was organised with the support by the Malaysian Furniture Industry Council (MFIC) and the MFPC’s Japanese consultant, Toyo Furniture Research Co. Ltd. (TFR).
“Our successful debut at the IFFT 2003 inspired us to command for the positive responses from Japan at this year’s exhibition. Our new showcase of Malaysian furniture tailored especially to the Japanese ideals proved to be very well received at the fair, garnering favourable feedback.
This collection not only conformed to the Japanese standards, but also appealed to the Japanese taste,” says Paul Wang, MFPC’s Chief Operating Officer.
The MFPC, as the promotional body entrusted by the Government to elevate the performance and status of the Malaysian furniture industry in the international arena, has identified Japan as one of Malaysia’s most important markets. Malaysia’s participation in the IFFT 2004 was to reaffirm the positioning of Malaysian furniture in the Japanese market.
The Malaysian Pavilion was an avenue for Malaysian furniture industry players to meet and interact with their Japanese counterparts. To reflect its array of display and to continue with the IFFT 2003’s success, the showcase was aptly themed “Malaysian Style … Japanese Taste.”
This fair gave Malaysian manufacturers the opportunity to show their capability in catering to the Japanese unique tastes and special requirements. The Japanese consumers are renowned for their emphasis on quality and safety standards. Thus, based on this main selection criterion, the showcase fulfilled the Japanese high expectation of performance with Malaysia’s innovative design, consistency, stability, durability and ease of installation.
According to the MFPC’s Chairman, Y Bhg Tan Sri Dr Abdullah bin Mohd Tahir, “As one of Malaysia’s most important markets, it was vital that the Japanese buyers be presented with the best of Malaysian furniture at this year’s showcase.
We have brought to them a selection of Malaysian furniture industry players whose product attributes measure up to the Japanese high expectation of performance. I believe that from this fair’s warm reception, the Japanese will continue to find Malaysia a reliable source for furniture that caters to the Japanese market requirements.
”In addition to the IFFT, the platform was set for the Malaysian furniture exports to strengthen its position in Japan based on the agreement signed between the MFPC and TFR in October 2004. The signing ceremony finalised TFR as MFPC’s consultant in Japan.In his remarks Wang said, “The IFFT 2004 was a successful continuation from last year, portraying the versatility of Malaysian furniture in the Japanese context. Hence, Japanese buyers are aware of quality Malaysian furniture that caters to its market’s requirements, incorporating the strong Japanese culture and values.
MFPC’s collaboration with TFR will capitalise on this advantage and support the Malaysian furniture industrialists with pre-requisite study, objective analysis and practical information to equip Malaysian furniture manufacturers and exporters adequately for an effective market position in Japan.”
The Japanese market as the second most important export destination in the Malaysian furniture industry will continue to play an influential role in the years to come. “In realisation of this fact, the MFPC has earmarked the penetration of Malaysian furniture into the contract sector of the Japanese market as our key element for Malaysia’s future excellence.
At IFFT 2004, we received many delegations from Japanese housing developers, property owners, interior designers and architects, who were very impressed with the possibilities and opportunities offered by Malaysian furniture into the medium-higher market segments,” Wang added.
As part of the long term programme, several road shows has been planned within strategic geographical areas targeting at Japanese furniture buyers, housing developers, interior designers and retail chain stores. In addition, a year long publicity programme highlighting Malaysian furniture was also planned to complement MFPC in its approach to position Malaysia as a global focal point for world class furniture.