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Sourcing Strategies by Tom Russell

Thomas Russell
Tom Russell Associate Editor I’m Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have had covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain some perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours overseas. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives on-line and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings. ( to view or add public comments click on \"Add your Comment\" below each blog post)
  • Chinese labor increases, currency fluctuations remain a challenge

    A recent news article on Woodworking Network.com states that the Chinese wooden furniture industry saw growth in 2013, albeit slower than in previous years. I've included a link to this story below for more details. http://www.woodworkingnetwork.com/wood-market-trends/woodworking-industry-news/production-woodworking-news/Chinese-Wooden-Furniture-Industry-to-Reach-963-billion-by-2018-247411601.html#sthash.2BguhINc.dpbsThis should come as no surprise given the challenges that all industries in China are facing of late. For example, government-mandated wage increases are putting pressure on many manufacturers to find ways to lower costs. This is certainly one way to keep a lid on price increases, but obviously will continue ... Read More
  • Ikea move could help India's furniture industry

    A news story by an Indian online news resource recently touted the fact that Swedish furniture chain Ikea not only plans to open its first shop in India, it also plans to source larger items in the country for its worldwide operations. This pronouncement could be a big score for India's fledgling furnishings industry, whose largest product categories includes rugs, accessories and accent furniture.In the United States alone, India ranks number nine on the list of top source countries, according to figures compiled by Furniture/Today's research department. For the first half of 2013 it shipped just ... Read More
  • Asian show circuit changes slightly in 2014

    In announcing a seemingly minor date change for its 2014 show, the International Furniture Fair Singapore has taken a bold step forward. That's because the show is positioning itself closer to the larger and more heavily attended shows in Southern China. As readers may recall from our online coverage, the show's 2014 dates are March 13-16, versus the more typical March 9-12 schedule. Two major China shows, the 3F Famous Furniture Fair in Dongguan and the China International Furniture Fair in Guangzhou, are March 16-20 and March 18-22, respectively. The Asian show circuit will begin however, with the ... Read More
  • Wages continue to rise in Asia

    Furniture industry observers who have been to China are probably aware of the government's efforts to raise the standard of living for its middle class. The latest example of this came on May 1, when the government instituted a 19% increase in the minimum wage in the Guangdong Province. In addition to boosting spending power, the increase is part of an effort to lure workers back to the region, where the furniture industry was hit hard by the global recession.According to online news source China Briefing, the region is suffering from a labor shortage of about 1.2 ... Read More
  • Lincolnton closing a sad development in U.S. furniture production

    Working this week on a project about Made in America that runs Feb. 25 calls to mind one of the most disappointing news stories so far this year: the demise of Lincolnton Furniture. In the first week of January, the case goods manufacturer announced it was abruptly shutting its doors. The news was particularly surprising given all the publicity the case goods manufacturer received after Furniture/Today broke the story about the startup in August 2011. To view that story, visit Furniture/Today.After that ran, media outlets from Charlotte to Florida and California began following the story, wowed by ... Read More
  • Forbes article analyzes changes in China

    Earlier this month, Forbes published an article, http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2012/12/09/move-over-michigan-china-is-the-worlds-next-rustbelt/?utm_source=forbespicks&google_editors_picks=true, that is of likely interest to people in the furniture industry. The title alone, "Move Over, Michigan, China Is the World's Next Rust Belt," should pique the curiosity of many readers. The actual content is even richer, with an analysis of how China quickly came to power as the world's factory floor, yet has just as quickly diminished in size and stature in the area of manufacturing. The article cites several factors for this, including quite a ... Read More
  • Forbes article analyzes changes in China

    Earlier this month, Forbes published an article, http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2012/12/09/move-over-michigan-china-is-the-worlds-next-rustbelt/?utm_source=forbespicks&google_editors_picks=true, that is of likely interest to people in the furniture industry. The title alone, "Move Over, Michigan, China Is the World's Next Rust Belt," should pique the curiosity of many readers. The actual content is even richer, with an analysis of how China quickly came to power as the world's factory floor, yet has just as quickly diminished in size and stature in the area of manufacturing. The article cites several factors for this, including quite a ... Read More
  • Hardwood plywood antidumping case has uncertain implications for industry

    On Nov. 12, Furniture/Today wrote about another petition involving allegations of antidumping, or the sale of foreign-made product at unfair prices into the U.S. market. This particular case involves Chinese-made hardwood plywood, which is used largely in kitchen cabinets but also in RVs, boats and some furniture. A week later, we also ran a story that the U.S. International Trade Commission found the issue had caused enough injury to U.S. producers to warrant the U.S. government continuing a full-fledged investigation. If the government determines dumping is taking place and that the Chinese factories have some ... Read More
  • More thoughts on Indonesia

    As some readers know, it's been about a month since Furniture/Today published its three-part series on Indonesia. Many who read the articles mentioned it to me during market and asked more questions about what I saw on the ground there. The questions, to me, meant that many are eager for more information and that the series, while lengthy, was just a start to the discussion about Indonesia. In finishing this series I also realized there was more to talk about that didn't get published including on and off the record comments from industry experts who have spent ... Read More
  • Many Chinese bedroom producers appear to abandon U.S. market

    Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Commerce published the final results of its latest administrative review in the wooden bedroom furniture antidumping case. This list marks the completion of the DOC's analysis of 2010 shipments of Chinese bedroom producers. What was interesting about this case wasn't the large number of Chinese factories cited on the list, but rather the high number of factories that were assessed at 216%. In this year's final results there were more than 70 factories listed as receiving this high duty rate, the highest number I can recall receiving such a ... Read More
  • Philippines furniture industry official raises alarms about regulation of wood supply

    The furniture industry in the Philippines has had its share of challenges in recent years. Fluctuation in currency rates, competition from other Asian producers and economic hard times around the world in general proved too much for some manufacturers to bear. Some were forced to lay off workers, while others had to shut down factories. Now the industry faces another challenge that one well known industry leader says could be the last straw for many producers: the regulation of imported and domestic wood species.In an interview with online Filipino news source GMA News, Nicholas de Lange, president of the ... Read More
  • Malaysia sees easing of worker shortages

    Furniture importers who bring in product from Malaysia have long dealt with factories facing worker shortages. One of the main reasons for these shortages is that the industry relies largely on imported labor from places like Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal. According to the manufacturers, these workers have the skills necessary to do the job. The problem is that they are in Malaysia on temporary work permits that only last about five years.Earlier this past spring, the industry got good news when the government announced it was granting the entry of some 16,000 foreign workers in the districts of ... Read More