Promoting Malaysian furniture with pride

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Sarimah Binti Haji Mohamad Sabudin
Sarimah Binti Haji Mohamad Sabudin, CEO Malaysia Furniture Promotion Council

The Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council is a specialised promotional body that promotes and develops the Malaysian furniture industry to establish Malaysia as a globally recognised source of world-class furniture. Inside Investor wanted to know more from Sarimah Binti Haji Mohamad Sabudin – the council’s CEO.

Q: What is the value proposition of Malaysian furniture? How is it marketable?

A: It’s the balance between quality and the price. It is not only us from the promotion council saying that, but many customers have this impression.

Q: What are the sustainable practices in the industry?

A: We are very serious about the materials, and we have been investing in sustainable raw materials such as palm oil trunks and rubber trees. We are also working towards a better product design where we can integrate more of these materials.

Q: What are the innovative products coming from Malaysian furniture manufacturers?

A: It is the combination of sustainable materials with other materials such as glass or steel. There have also been designs for special markets such as Japan or Indonesia. We are working together with new and young designers to follow trends on the market.

Q: What have been the main export markets in 2013 and their size?

A: As for the export numbers, unfortunately, in 2013 we were down by 30 per cent. As of June 2013, our export value was just 3 billion ringgit. This has to do with the weak global economy, and thus we are looking into new markets such as Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Algeria, but also to export more to China, Thailand and Indonesia. But by next year it should become better. Even our domestic market is growing, which keeps us afloat.

Q: Who is your main competitor?

A: Our main competitor is Vietnam. They have been getting much better in terms of design and quality, and their wages are low so they can sell for a cheaper price.

Q: What is the government doing to support the industry?

A: In line with the National Timber Policy, our target is to reach 16 billion ringgit by 2020 in furniture exports. The government is actually assisting the industry by helping it to improve original design manufacturing, or ODM, because just producing more volume as an original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, is not the solution. We are slowly shifting to this new level. This will be a milestone, give the whole industry a new face and we will produce more value and earn more profit. Eventually, we want to be an original brand manufacturer, or OBM, and create our own brands. This is our target.

Q: What effect will the ASEAN Economic Community have on the industry?

A: According to my manufacturers, it will widen their scope very positively. It will open doors, and if we are good, we won’t have to worry. If we have good quality, and the pricing is competitive, then everything will be ok, and it will be a benefit for the industry.

Q: What are the challenges you are facing as a promotion council?

A: The challenge here in the council is to make our assistance relevant for the industry and to be one step ahead of our manufacturers in terms of business information. We need broad knowledge and also assist the upcoming younger generation. We should also be working with other councils in other states and countries and exchanging ideas and experiences. This can help both industries. We did it, for example, with Australia lately.

Q: What is your short-time forecast for the Malaysian furniture industry?

A: The orders are currently shrinking, but we think it will pick up by next year.

Q: What would be the incentives for investors in the industry?

A: There is a clear policy in Malaysia for investors that ensures who comes here is happy to invest. The government has a strong business angle to make investment safe in Malaysia, and this also applies to the furniture industry. There is a new dynamic, and our infrastructure is good and the financial system is robust.

Q: What is the current focus of the council?

A: We represent about 500 manufacturers that are registered with us, and we have launched a brand initiative called Malaysia Pride plus logo, developed by us, that ensures quality standards in design and production. Manufacturers get “certified” by us through this brand and customers can rest assured that they receive products on the highest level.

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[caption id="attachment_16044" align="alignleft" width="180"] Sarimah Binti Haji Mohamad Sabudin, CEO Malaysia Furniture Promotion Council[/caption] The Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council is a specialised promotional body that promotes and develops the Malaysian furniture industry to establish Malaysia as a globally recognised source of world-class furniture. Inside Investor wanted to know more from Sarimah Binti Haji Mohamad Sabudin – the council’s CEO. Q: What is the value proposition of Malaysian furniture? How is it marketable? A: It’s the balance between quality and the price. It is not only us from the promotion council saying that, but many customers have this impression. Q: What...

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sarimah Binti Haji Mohamad Sabudin
Sarimah Binti Haji Mohamad Sabudin, CEO Malaysia Furniture Promotion Council

The Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council is a specialised promotional body that promotes and develops the Malaysian furniture industry to establish Malaysia as a globally recognised source of world-class furniture. Inside Investor wanted to know more from Sarimah Binti Haji Mohamad Sabudin – the council’s CEO.

Q: What is the value proposition of Malaysian furniture? How is it marketable?

A: It’s the balance between quality and the price. It is not only us from the promotion council saying that, but many customers have this impression.

Q: What are the sustainable practices in the industry?

A: We are very serious about the materials, and we have been investing in sustainable raw materials such as palm oil trunks and rubber trees. We are also working towards a better product design where we can integrate more of these materials.

Q: What are the innovative products coming from Malaysian furniture manufacturers?

A: It is the combination of sustainable materials with other materials such as glass or steel. There have also been designs for special markets such as Japan or Indonesia. We are working together with new and young designers to follow trends on the market.

Q: What have been the main export markets in 2013 and their size?

A: As for the export numbers, unfortunately, in 2013 we were down by 30 per cent. As of June 2013, our export value was just 3 billion ringgit. This has to do with the weak global economy, and thus we are looking into new markets such as Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Algeria, but also to export more to China, Thailand and Indonesia. But by next year it should become better. Even our domestic market is growing, which keeps us afloat.

Q: Who is your main competitor?

A: Our main competitor is Vietnam. They have been getting much better in terms of design and quality, and their wages are low so they can sell for a cheaper price.

Q: What is the government doing to support the industry?

A: In line with the National Timber Policy, our target is to reach 16 billion ringgit by 2020 in furniture exports. The government is actually assisting the industry by helping it to improve original design manufacturing, or ODM, because just producing more volume as an original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, is not the solution. We are slowly shifting to this new level. This will be a milestone, give the whole industry a new face and we will produce more value and earn more profit. Eventually, we want to be an original brand manufacturer, or OBM, and create our own brands. This is our target.

Q: What effect will the ASEAN Economic Community have on the industry?

A: According to my manufacturers, it will widen their scope very positively. It will open doors, and if we are good, we won’t have to worry. If we have good quality, and the pricing is competitive, then everything will be ok, and it will be a benefit for the industry.

Q: What are the challenges you are facing as a promotion council?

A: The challenge here in the council is to make our assistance relevant for the industry and to be one step ahead of our manufacturers in terms of business information. We need broad knowledge and also assist the upcoming younger generation. We should also be working with other councils in other states and countries and exchanging ideas and experiences. This can help both industries. We did it, for example, with Australia lately.

Q: What is your short-time forecast for the Malaysian furniture industry?

A: The orders are currently shrinking, but we think it will pick up by next year.

Q: What would be the incentives for investors in the industry?

A: There is a clear policy in Malaysia for investors that ensures who comes here is happy to invest. The government has a strong business angle to make investment safe in Malaysia, and this also applies to the furniture industry. There is a new dynamic, and our infrastructure is good and the financial system is robust.

Q: What is the current focus of the council?

A: We represent about 500 manufacturers that are registered with us, and we have launched a brand initiative called Malaysia Pride plus logo, developed by us, that ensures quality standards in design and production. Manufacturers get “certified” by us through this brand and customers can rest assured that they receive products on the highest level.

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