The furniture industry has developed primarily on the back of growth witnessed in the interior decoration trends and the urbanisation factor.
This growth has paved way for skilled workers, furniture manufacturers and interior designers as they make their way towards gaining international clientele as well.
People associated with this industry believe in its export potential and many big players are already working to capitalise on it.
Last year, nine leading furniture and interior entrepreneurs took an initiative to establish a council, called the Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC), the mandate of which was to utilise each and every resource in Pakistan to boost its exports to $5 billion in five years.
The ground breaking for the council was followed by a furniture and interior exhibition in Lahore but no major activity was observed during the year. Members as individual businessmen are doing well but for the council they have to align many things including the availability of raw material and trained manpower.
There is a dire need to provide training to non-skilled and semi-skilled workers of this industry who are scattered in furniture hubs like Gujrat, Gojra, Peshawar and Chiniot. However, increased costs, receding economy and consumer ignorance are the impediments this industry faces, that are slowing down its progress.
PFC Company Secretary Faisal Mohsin thinks skilled labour is essential for producing cultural and antique furniture and it will take some time before export-oriented results are delivered. Non-availability of wood and hardware used for value-addition is another hurdle for expansion as well.
“The quality of Pakistani wood is not good and we have to import 80% of wood from Europe and African countries to meet demands. We have decided to construct a warehouse to store hardware so our members may purchase the product instead of importing on their own. We are also going to establish an institute in Lahore to provide latest and state-of-the-art internship programs to workers.”
PFC, this year, is planning to hold another exhibition in Lahore in and participating in international exhibitions to promote the Pakistan furniture industry. The exports are being made via third country which is becoming unviable for the industry. Last year the furniture exports according to PFC were around $51 million. The exports have only increased 10% this year, which is not close to the target of $5billion set by the council. Mohsin however, said that it’s a long journey which is tough, but the good thing is that the key stakeholders of this industry are part of this council, who have a vision to deliver. If PFC achieves its target of $5-billion exports then it will become the second largest industry after textiles whose exports are $14 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.
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