Playing an influential role in the furniture retail industry of Sri Lanka, Nawaal Qasim, the Director of Space Furniture, gives an insight into the industry’s island-wide significance and progression. Although the industry is not known to hold a noteworthy part compared to the global giants, it does have an essential aspect in the retail sector within the country itself.
Nawaal mentions that Sri Lanka is remarkable in providing wooden furniture in a significant sub-sector considering the national wood-based industry. The availability of valuable wood supplies such as Teak within Sri Lanka is no secret, therefore making the furniture industry utterly dependent on it when it comes to raw materials.
The competition within the local furniture market is known to proliferate because of the cheap imports. “The manufacturers have to meet several competing priorities simultaneously in terms of reduced cost, higher quality, a wider range of products, shorter delivery time and better service”, Nawaal emphasizes.
While the furniture manufacturers of Sri Lanka do indeed contribute to the international growth of the market, it is done at a very slow-paced rate. Nawaal believes this to be considering most firms are yet to progress into world-class manufacturing practices. He speaks of how many view the furniture industry as a traditionally low-tech one. This very thought process is, in turn, causing them to have an inadequate interest in advancing their manufacturing technologies and integrated information systems despite the increase in competition.
Sharing his opinion on the subject, Nawaal remarks, “With the high intensive global competition, Sri Lankan furniture manufacturers must boost their performance in identifying attributes such as cost, quality, delivery of speed, flexibility and innovation.”
Upon asking Nawaal what sets Space Furniture apart from the other furniture designer stores, he responded, declaring, “We at ‘Space’ bring contemporary furniture and decor from all over the world where Architects, Interior Designers, and homeowners can avail themselves”. Located in Colombo 7, Space Furniture is known for its skilled curation of unique pieces that are hard to come across in Sri Lanka. “We keep a substantial stock that can be purchased”, he says. Alongside their wide range of products for daily use, statement living room, and bedroom furniture and decor, Space also provides hotels and offices with complete furnishing project services.
With the pure focus of fulfilling customer requirements, Space Office “selects and retails easily to install pieces” alongside offering the option to customize the style, design, and color “using the finest materials” within the given budget. “The brand employs a consistent change in the design of its products, catering to the dynamic needs of the market for excellent, work-oriented interiors”, Nawaal explains.
Space Italia, “a luxury brand with true value for money in every piece”, includes pieces from Alta Cucina Italiana, the very first modular kitchen brand, and Santa Lucia, a leading Italian furniture manufacturing company. “These are retailed at the Space Italia showroom and can be made to order with customized specifications”, Nawaal stated. While Alta Cucina Italiana “focuses on sleek systems backed by years of meticulous aesthetic and functional research”, Santa Lucia “creates elegant pieces for bedrooms and living rooms that embody the brand.”
Having a look at the growth of the furniture manufacturing industry within the next ten years, Nawaal remarks, “Owing to the rising global population and the growing middle class, the demand for home furniture is rising, helping the specific segment of the market to grow further.” The regional development of the furniture market has been driven by the increase in consumer purchasing power and the growth of unique furniture preferences amongst the youth. He explains that due to the rise in demand for multi-functional furniture featuring maximum storage facility and stylish and innovative space design, the surge in the furniture market seems to be thriving.
Further, Nawaal maintains that in order to influence home furniture sales during the forecast period, manufacturers should gain the attraction of customers by optimizing products according to their tastes and preferences. He also notices the possibility of increased popularity in Ready to Assemble Furniture (RTA), a form of furniture where the customers can self-assemble the product themselves. This is primarily because they are low in cost and compact in design.
“The future of the furniture industry would look forward to exclusive online platforms and partnerships with the e-commerce channels to strengthen their distribution networks”, Nawaal expresses. With the digital era taking a spin on almost every industry in the economy, no doubt taking such an initiative in the furniture manufacturing sector would raise the bar of success a great deal in the years to come.