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Furniture firm eyes bigger share of local market

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva November 20,2017 - 10:42 PM

Osbert Ong, The Furniture City general manager (left), and Jim Cassels, Lenbert Manufacturing Inc. marketing director, discuss the upcoming furniture bazaar in The Furniture City in a press briefing.
CDN PHOTO/VICTOR SILVA

YEARS after furniture manufacturers decided to cater to the local market amid a global exports slowdown years ago, local players are now seeing promising growth in domestic uptake.

Such is the case of the Mandaue City-based Lenbert Manufacturing, Inc., the company behind Rain or Shine All-Weather Furniture, 50 percent of whose sales now come from the local market, said Marketing Director Jim Cassels.

“When we decided to enter the local market in 2010, domestic demand made up only 10 to 20 percent of our sales. But now we are getting close to 50 percent,” he said Monday on the sidelines of a media conference for The Biggest Furniture Bazaar by Furniture City, the company’s retail store.

More than half of the world’s export market was affected by the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, forcing about 75 percent of businesses to close down.

As a response, the market started sourcing its supply from China, which players all over the world now find hard to compete with due to its capacity to mass produce.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), more than half of the country’s furniture products were sold to the domestic market in 2010.

“Taking back the market will take time. But the Philippines is still superior in Southeast Asia, has been and still is in terms of quality,” he said.

Cassels said that while the Philippines, in particular, is having a good year for exports so far, recovery time has been sluggish.

Lenbert has been producing outdoor furniture for export since 1999.

To mitigate the effects of the financial crisis on their operations, Lenbert penetrated the domestic market in 2010 and opened a retail store five years later to capture a bigger chunk of the local demand.

He said the company has seen a steady growth in domestic demand since then, attributed to metropolitan Cebu’s growing population and an increase in purchasing power among the middle class.

Another factor behind the strong uptake is the aggressive expansion of hotels and resorts in Cebu, all of which need furniture.

“Everybody needs furniture,” Cassels said.

To take advantage of this growing market, Lenbert through The Furniture City is mounting its first bazaar from Nov. 24 to 26 at the Paradise Garden Events Pavilion in Barangay Jagobiao in Mandaue City.

Thirty-five exhibitors from the local furniture manufacturing industry and those from the Gifts, Toys, and Houseware sector, textile, food and fashion accessories are among those joining the bazaar.

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