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Thomas Russell

Malaysia's EFE offers export-ready goods

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Manufacturers showing at this year's Export Furniture Exhibition here offered buyers a host of promotional to middle priced goods aimed at driving sales on retail floors.
     The ninth annual edition of the show was held March 6-10 at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang, about 40 minutes from downtown Kuala Lumpur. It featured more than 200 manufacturers of bedroom, casual dining and occasional furniture as well as leather and fabric upholstery.
     Final attendance figures had not been released by press time, but show officials were expecting more than 10,000 visitors from around the world.
     Some exhibitors said show attendance was down some, a factor they largely attributed to Europe's slow economy.
     Still, many had aggressive introductions in bedroom, dining room and living room furniture. Sister companies Litako Enterprise and Instyle Furniture showed a line of case goods at lower middle price points. Litako had eight new dining sets, while Instyle had nine new bedrooms, retailing from $799 to $1,199 for five pieces.
     With 80% of sales to the U.S. market, a company official was optimistic the new sets would generate sales momentum in the year ahead, despite concerns over rising labor costs in Malaysia.
     "Our position is to apply the right price at the right time," said Mandric Goh, marketing manager, as he showed a number of contemporary and transitional bedrooms in lacquer finishes. Groups also featured cases with ball bearing slides and finished drawer interiors.
     "The value is there from the outside to the inside," said Goh.
     Case goods manufacturer Oeko Furniture (pronounced eco) had one of the most dramatic booths at the show, touting its use of solid acacia. The display included logs from 11-year-old plantation grown acacia trees along with a stack of acacia boards and finish panels, giving buyers a glimpse into the raw material story.
     The company showcased new products made with the wood, including its 600 Series collection that includes a dining table with a solid acacia top and metal Ibeam legs.
     "We believe our industry has to move forward, and the only way to go forward is to add value by putting more into the product in terms of design," said Richard Lee, president.
     Another design trendsetter was Inception, which showcased a line of bedroom and dining room furniture made with palm wood. The wood has a tight grain pattern like mahogany and is plantation grown, offering a sustainable wood story.
     The three-year-old company primarily sells to the Australia market but was hoping to make inroads with some U.S. buyers at the show. Among its product highlights were the Hayos bedroom, which features a queen sized bed retailing around $599, and the Mystique bedroom, which has a brownish gray tone finish on a transitional frame and retails at about the same price point.
     The show also had a number of upholstery suppliers including Suburbia Furniture, which offered a line of mostly contemporary leather sofas and sectionals. The company currently does as much as 60% of its sales to the United States, said Lim Jit Yeu, director.
     While business has been flat for the past few years, he said the company is starting to see more orders from the U.S. market.
     His space featured about 10 new frames in combinations of leather, leather and fabric and leather/bonded leather combinations. Yeu said he had more frames to show, but held those back for specific customers.
     Even Sofa Mfg. also showed a line of leather upholstery, much of which is shipped to Australia and Belgium. With sofa loveseat and chair combinations targeted to retail at $3,000, the company said U.S. customers have not responded well to the line in the past, saying it's too expensive for the market.
     The EFE show welcomed dignitaries such as Yb Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Malaysia's minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, who appeared at the opening ceremonies. In his speech, he addressed competition from countries with lower-cost production, particularly those competitors with mass production capabilities.
     "In this context, it is pertinent that manufacturers in Malaysia continue to innovate by focusing on finishing, design and production of higher quality products," he said, adding that Malaysian producers can develop their own brands meeting both the "demand of the niche market and specific preference of export markets."

The Victor bedroom
The Victor bedroom by Instyle Furniture has a white finish on the drawer fronts and the top portion of the headboard. A five-piece set would retail around $1,199.
Richard Lee, president of Oeko Furniture, stands by a display of acacia logs in his showroom. The logs are harvested around the 11-year mark.
Richard Lee,
The 600 series
The 600 series dining set by Oeko Furniture is made with solid acacia and is supported by metal I-beam legs.
Suburbia Furniture showed this leather sectional at EFE. Made in Shenzhen, China, it has a suggested retail of about $1,149.
Suburbia Furniture
A display of chairs
A display of chairs greets buyers at the EFE show in Kuala Lumpur, which featured more than 200 exhibitors in five halls.
Be Wood Craft showed a line of casual dining furniture and barstools, including these that were displayed along the outside of its booth at EFE. They are made with solid rubberwood.
Be Wood Craft showed
Inception Design
Inception Design and Trading showed a line of bedroom and dining room furniture made with palmwood solids and rubberwood veneers.
Chair manufacturer Fiori Malaysia displayed some of its bestselling products in a lighted case in its showroom. The company’s line also includes fabric upholstery.
Chair manufacturer
This dining set
This dining set is among the new introductions by Jin Sheng Furniture. Made with rubberwood solids, a table and six chairs would retail around $999.
Even Sofa showed a line of leather upholstery, including this group, which features tilt-back headrests.
Even Sofa showed

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