Malaysian Furniture Exports Set to Strengthen Foothold in Japan

The stage is set for the Malaysian furniture exports to strengthen its position in the Japanese market after the signing of an agreement between the Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council (MFPC) and Toyo Furniture Research (TFR) Co. Ltd. in Kuala Lumpur today.
The signing ceremony saw the MFPC ink the engagement of TFR as its consultant in MFPC’s effort to further develop the Malaysian furniture in the Japanese furniture market. Signing on behalf of the MFPC was its Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Paul Wang, while TFR was represented by its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ikuzo Abeno. Also present at the occasion were members of the MFPC’s Board of Trustees and the TFR’s delegation.

In his remarks Wang said, “Japan is a very important and sensitive market to us. In 2003 Japan imported a total of RM 13.25 billion worth of furniture and Malaysia accounted for only RM 650 million or about 5% of the total import amount. One of the areas that we can bank on to deliver in Japan is wooden furniture, the star performer of Malaysia’s timber product sector. With wooden furniture accounting to almost 50% of the Japanese furniture imports, we stand a very good chance to increase our exports there. To support us in our efforts, TFR will play a very proactive role in providing us the information, exposure and networking needed for a successful venture in Japan.”

With the signing of this agreement, TFR will play the lead role as consultant for the MFPC in Japan. This agreement is also exclusive in nature whereby Malaysia will be the only country in Asia that they will work with. Established in 1968, TFR is a “furniture industry specific” research company specialising in the Japanese market. Its extensive observation and expert study communicated through industry analysis, marketing assistance and promotional support will undoubtedly assist to enhance Malaysia’s future performance in the Japanese market. This collaboration will carve the path for Malaysian furniture manufacturers and exporters to penetrate the Japanese market more effectively.

This agreement also marks a milestone in the course of the Malaysian furniture industry in the world market. The MFPC-TFR agreement is the first of a series of agreements to be signed by the MFPC. To follow will be several other similar agreements with specialists in Europe, Australia and South Asia. As the national organisation entrusted by Government with the task to promote and further develop the Malaysian furniture industry, the MFPC has embarked on a series of tactics structured on its two-prong strategy namely Design and Market Enhancement. The MFPC’s debut outing in Japan was the International Furniture Fair Tokyo (IFFT) 2003, which was a successful image enhancement exercise that rectified the Japanese’s flagging enthusiasm towards Malaysian furniture.

“The IFFT 2003 project was an eye-opener to the versatility of Malaysian furniture in the Japanese context. As a result, Japanese buyers have now realised that they can rely on Malaysian furniture to take into considerations the strong Japanese culture and values to cater for the market’s requirements. MFPC’s collaboration with TFR will take advantage of this positive impression and capitalise on it by supporting 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 entry into Japan.” Wang added.

This year the MFPC will again organise the Malaysian Pavilion at IFFT 2004 with the support from the Malaysian Furniture Industry Council (MFIC). This project will see the MFPC and TFR collaborate to ensure the success of Malaysia’s participation in one of the premier furniture exhibitions in the Far East region in meeting its objectives of image enhancement and exports sales.

Also planned are several strategically located road shows in selected locations in Japan for a more focussed meeting with some targeted Japanese groups such as furniture buyers, housing developers, interior designers and retail chain stores. To complement these efforts, Malaysian furniture will also be highlighted regularly to the Japanese market through a year long publicity programme.

As the specialised taskforce to position Malaysia as a global focal point for furniture in Asia and uplift the image of Malaysian furniture as a whole, the MFPC will continue to promote Malaysian furniture in Japan. There are various upcoming programmes and exercise planned in the MFPC’s blueprint to enhance the industry’s performance in Japan. TFR will play a very important role to feed the industry, through the MFPC, vital information and operative assistance for the MFPC to execute these activities successsfully.