Imports of wooden furniture between mid-July and mid-April soared 45 percent year-on-year, a trend traders attributed to Nepali buyers turning to foreign products for their elegant looks and fine workmanship.
According to the Department of Customs, the country imported wooden furniture worth Rs902.3 million in the first nine months of 2018-19, up from Rs620.3 million during the same period of the last fiscal year. China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and Turkey are the main source countries for furniture sold in the Nepali market. Traders said lifestyle choices and ergonomic furniture from foreign manufacturers led to the steep rise in demand.
Kavindra Joshi, general secretary of the Federation of Furniture and Furnishing Entrepreneurs’ Association, said demand for imported furniture had increased with expanding urbanisation. “Imported furniture fulfils around 60 percent of the requirement,” said Joshi.
Joshi said people people looking for luxury products choose imported furniture. The prestige attached to foreign products is also driving up sales, he added. According to him, many people with body aches choose imported furniture for comfort.
Sambidha Shakya of Kalanki, an employee in a finance company, said the elegant looks of imported furniture an attractive ambience in the home.
As per the association, the wooden furniture market in the country is worth Rs40 billion annually.
Traders said a shortage of raw materials and skilled manpower was one of the reasons for low domestic supply and consequent rise in imports.
A rapid rise in the number of corporate houses and hotels and restaurants and growing sales of apartments and housing units have also helped increase demand for imported furniture. Akhil Chapagain, chairman of Akhil Trading Concern, the authorised distributor for Istikball Furniture, Turkey and Hatil Furniture, Bangladesh, said their sales of imported furniture
had more than doubled in the last one year. Chapagain said he was planning to open showrooms in other major cities of the country due to the large number of potential buyers outside the Kathmandu Valley.
According to him, rocking chairs, shoe racks and dining tables are among the fastest selling items. Prices start at Rs20,000.Avinash Tamrakar, business development manager at Index Furniture, said customers mostly look for finishing and durability while purchasing furniture. Index Furniture sells furniture imported from Thailand and has a monthly turnover of more than Rs10 million. According to Tamrakar, sofa sets, beds and wardrobes are their best selling products. Prices range between Rs40,000 and Rs300,000, he added.
KRISHANA PRASAIN, Kathmandupost
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