Furniture business hit by political unrest

Traders worried about the festive Season as products are stuck at different customs

KATHMANDU: Be it domestic manufacturers or importers of furniture, both are facing a tough time due to the unrest in Tarai. Manufacturers are hassled  by the lack of raw material, which largely comes from the Tarai, while importers don’t have options other than importing furniture through the border (Tarai). Moreover, furniture traders are also worried about whether they will get to import products for the festive season, which is the prime time for business. According to traders, the sale of furniture will dip significantly if they do not get products on time.

Citing that the furniture market witnessed 15 per cent growth last year, President of Nepal Furniture and Furnishing Association (NFFA), Kabindra Joshi said, “We doubt we can retain the same growth this year due to the ongoing strike in Tarai.”  Informing that around 50

containers with furniture are stuck at various custom offices in Tarai due to bandh, he said, “We were compelled to postpone our annual Furnex Expo 2015 that slated for October 1.” Stating that the furniture business was not affected by the earthquake, he said, “If the Tarai bandhs continue, it is for sure the industry will be hit hard. However, we are hopeful that the situation will be back to normal soon.”

Citing that the furniture industry is becoming dependent on imports, Joshi said, “Due to lack of skilled manpower, electricity and other raw material, domestic productions are gradually declining and traders are now attracted towards importing readymade products.” According to him, China, Thailand, Malaysia and America are prime countries from where furniture is imported.

The Nepali furniture market is separated into three segments — domestic, Chinese and branded products. Affordable pricing, aesthetic look and fine design are reasons why customers are gradually opting for imported furniture. However, the charm of domestic products is still alive owing to its durability, quality and design. According to him, 60 per cent of the furniture market is dominated by imported furniture whereas domestic furniture enjoys 40 per cent market share.

Marketing Director of Bira Furniture at Patan Industrial Area, Sarju Shrestha said, “We have not been able to import raw materials due to the bandh whereas the business was already affected by the earthquake.” Informing that the demand for furniture dipped during the earthquake, he said, “We are optimistic about the upcoming festive season only if the Tarai unrest is resolved.”

According to him, local, branded and Chinese furniture have their own separate markets with their individual merits and demerits. “There will be price hike in furniture products by 10 to 15 per cent for domestic products owing to labour crisis and lack of raw material available due to the present situation,” he added.

“The demand for branded furniture was down for the last two months because of the earthquake,” said Nikhil Tuladhar, Marketing Manager at Index Furniture, adding that the business is hit hard due to the bandhs as products are stuck at Birgunj Customs. Tuladhar further said, “Customers are aware about branded products in furniture and value them for quality and design.”