According to SAnews.gov.za The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) is on a mission to improve the competitiveness of the furniture manufacturing industry.
This as the department has embarked on a programme to improve the competitiveness of small scale furniture manufacturers across the country.
The department aims to increase the furniture manufacturers’ productivity and their contribution in job creation and economic growth.
“The Furniture Competitiveness Programme is one of the government measures identified in the eighth iteration of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) to boost the capacity of the furniture manufacturing industry,” said the department on Sunday.
According to Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, the forestry sector has the potential to create jobs and presents opportunities for growth through beneficiation and value-addition to wood before exporting.
“Within this sector, the furniture industry has also been identified in the IPAP as an important industry within the South African economy.
“This is due to the fact that it is labour intensive and has the potential to contribute to reducing the level of unemployment, increase exports and contribute to the development of small and medium enterprises,” said Minister Davies.
The furniture manufacturing industry currently comprises approximately 2, 200 registered firms involved in manufacturing of furniture, bedding and upholstery and employs approximately 26, 400 factory workers.
The industry is labour-intensive and contributes about 1% to the manufacturing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 1.1% to manufacturing employment.
“The dti would like to position the South African furniture industry as a producer of high value niche furniture products that are globally competitive, and based on quality or differentiated designs.
“This would require a concerted effort on the part of the government, newly established industry association, the South African Furniture Initiative, and manufacturers to develop programmes that address the challenges that currently constrain the industry,” explained Minister Davies.
Like most small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), companies operating in the furniture manufacturing industry face size-related competitiveness challenges, primarily the ability to access markets and reduce input costs.
“This calls for systematic collaboration in the furniture industry, especially amongst small and newly established manufacturers. A number of industries have successfully organised their players in manufacturing hubs, clusters or industrial parks.
“The current situation with the SMMEs operating in the furniture industry presents an opportunity to further capacitate and organise trained manufacturers, and thus improve productivity and competitiveness,” continues Minister Davies.
He added that the department is currently consulting stakeholders on the feasibility of establishing a furniture manufacturing hub to address challenges highlighted by small furniture manufacturers.
These include limited access to information, adequate business premises, limited access to modern or high-tech machinery and equipment, poor sector integration and challenging market conditions.
“A furniture manufacturing hub will create scope and opportunity for small manufacturers to work together to access larger market opportunities and create a foundation for better synergies between the different stakeholders involved in the sector,” said the Minister.