As part of the BFM’s export drive, Matt O Flynn of Meadowmead (BFM vice-chairman) and Jackie Bazeley (BFM MD) are flying to China this month to meet with the Shenzhen Furniture Trade Association, the Chinese and British Business Council, retailers, designers and agents, to hopefully agree a way forward for the BFM to support members to export to China. The BFM has been advised by its Chinese hosts that that there is a market for medium/high-end British furniture there.
In fact, as purchasing power improves, the Chinese are becoming more and more willing to invest in furniture, and the market has developed at a staggering pace in recent years. Research shows that between 2004 and 2011 the sales value of larger wholesalers and retailers grew at an annual average rate of 31%. It is estimated that 40 million households replace their furniture each year, and that amongst the middle classes most importance is attached to quality and style – both of which account for more or less the same degree of importance – with price secondary.
The visit to China is just one of the recent export initiatives undertaken by the BFM. Others include: the continual updating of the Export Portal, which can be found in the members’ area of the BFM website; developing contacts in overseas markets – recently, for example, France, and soon it hopes in the Benelux countries and the US; the successful Exclusively British scheme which sells into Russia is to be expanded with a showroom opening in Moscow, and an opportunity has also presented itself in the Ukraine; and UKT&I funding has been secured for ISalone Moscow (October), Milan (April 2014) and Shenzhen (March 2014, tbc).