New hub in the works for furniture sector

(Far left) The JTC Furniture Hub @ Sungei Kadut will have 63 modular factory units over eight storeys. (Above) Mr Pang (left) of V-Mark Woodcraft has R&D plans, while Mr Yong of Ewins said firms at the hub will be able to share resources such as spec
(Above) Mr Pang (left) of V-Mark Woodcraft has R&D plans, while Mr Yong of Ewins said firms at the hub will be able to share resources such as specialised machines.PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
(Far left) The JTC Furniture Hub @ Sungei Kadut will have 63 modular factory units over eight storeys. (Above) Mr Pang (left) of V-Mark Woodcraft has R&D plans, while Mr Yong of Ewins said firms at the hub will be able to share resources such as spec
The JTC Furniture Hub @ Sungei Kadut will have 63 modular factory units over eight storeys. PHOTO: JTC

Companies clustered under one roof can share resources and benefit from facilities

Firms will be able to increase collaborations with other companies in the sector once the new furniture hub is built by the end of 2018, said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang yesterday.

The JTC Furniture Hub @ Sungei Kadut will comprise 63 modular factory units of about 500 to 1,000 sq m on eight storeys, allowing many companies to cluster under one roof. The presence of many firms in one location is expected to help cut costs such as delivery expenses.

Mr Lim, who announced details of the hub at the International Furniture Fair Singapore 2016 yesterday, also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) and JTC.

This will involve the council setting up a 10,000 sq m centre at the hub that will feature a trade showroom, a training institute, a design studio and an e-commerce fulfilment centre. The showroom on the ground floor will stage trade displays all year round, allowing companies to attract both local and international buyers.

Mr Lim said: "Furniture companies will further benefit from resource-sharing arrangements at the hub, and will be able to experiment with innovative concept stores at the permanent display space, or test-bed new e-fulfilment business models."

Singapore's furniture industry, which contributes about $1 billion in value-add to the economy, comprises around 1,900 companies employing more than 19,000 people.

Ewins, which provides fittings to furniture manufacturers, is eyeing a move to the new hub from its premises in the Sungei Kadut industrial estate, where many furniture companies are based.

Marketing director Mark Yong said that the hub will drive cooperation and synergy between firms. "You can have quick access to information and best practices. You can share resources with your neighbours, who have certain specialised machines that you don't have."

V-Mark Woodcraft believes moving to the new hub will present it with the opportunity to reorganise its business and to set up a research and development (R&D) division.

General manager Tony Pang said: "We have to look at making products that are relevant to today's needs. My plan for R&D is about green practices, looking into composites and man-made wood."

SFIC president Ernie Koh said in a statement yesterday: "We look forward to the immense opportunity at the hub for local furniture companies to internationalise their brands."

The furniture industry's market size is projected to have hit $6.25 billion last year, growing 7.4 per cent from 2012 to 2015.

The SFIC is also exploring an "overseas place-and-train programme" with various government agencies. This would involve local furniture designers spending three to six months on attachment with top design houses abroad.

Mr Lim said that such exposure to leading global players will help to "uplift the capabilities of our furniture industry as a whole, and sharpen our competitive edge".

He added that it is important that firms capitalise on some of the long-term trends, such as the rapid advancement of technology like 3D printing and the rise of the Asian middle class.

"For instance, China - a large market for our exporters - may be seeing slower economic growth in the near future, but Chinese consumer spending is still expected to rise tremendously over the next decade," he noted.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2016, with the headline 'New hub in the works for furniture sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe