Kick Start for Japan-Malaysia Furniture Collaboration

Japan–Malaysia Furniture Excellence Programme (JM FURNEXPRO), aptly themed to mark the collaboration between the Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council (MFPC) and Toyo Furniture Research (TFR) Co Ltd, kick starts the MFPC’s effort to expand the Malaysian furniture industry in the Far East market.

The significant programme between the MFPC and TFR is an initial cooperation for both countries after the signing ceremony which took place in October where TFR was engaged as its market consultant in Japan. Following the success of the Malaysian Pavilion at the International Furniture Fair Tokyo (IFFT) in November, the MFPC launched JM FURNEXPRO with the intention to capitalise on the favourable feedback received from previous Japanese fairs. The programme took almost six months to analyse followed by another six months of strategising before implementation takes place. JM FURNEXPRO finally became concrete on 15 December 2004 and the MFPC welcomes interested manufacturers to take part in the Far East market expansion programme.

JM FURNEXPRO was formed with three main objectives in mind; for the participation in exports, image enhancement and promotion of programme group players organised by the MFPC; to organise strategic trade missions in the Far East market; and to enhance the reception of trade missions by the Far East market. The goal of the programme is to accommodate business matching between Japanese and Malaysian companies selected based on a set of strict criteria. Various programmes and workshops will be implemented to enhance the industry’s positioning in Japan, including facilitation, training, workshops and seminars to equip our group players with the information and knowledge to strengthen their foothold in the market. Formation of strategic alliances with contract manufacturing and/or furnishing companies such as property developers, architects, interior designers and hotels are also strategies under JM FURNEXPRO.               

“As one of Malaysia’s most important markets, Japan has always been our major focus. The success at IFFT proved the versatility of Malaysia’s furniture measuring up to the market’s expectations. The buyers were impressed with the possibilities and opportunities offered by Malaysian furniture that incorporate the strong Japanese culture and values to cater for the market’s requirements. With JM FURNEXPRO, we hope to reposition the industry into the medium-higher end market for Malaysia’s future excellence,” says Paul Wang, the MFPC’s Chief Operating Officer.

Following the agreement, TFR plays the proactive role of market consultant for the MFPC by supporting the Malaysian furniture industrialists with pre-requisite study, objective analysis and practical information to equip Malaysian furniture manufacturers and exporters adequately for a successful expansion in the Japanese market. The MFPC will be able to take advantage of TFR’s furniture journal, a weekly publication distributed to the industry, to strengthen the position of Malaysian manufacturers in Japan. In addition, TFR also publishes an English journal every fortnightly.

In addition to that, the MFPC has also appointed Mr Kondo Hiroaki as its technical consultant based in Malaysia for the project. This is to ensure that the products appeal to the Japanese taste, conform to their high expectation of performance and spatial context and comply with the strict requirements.

The MFPC will play the vital role of the mediator between Malaysian furniture manufacturers and the Far East market with the assistance of TFR in providing the necessary information, exposure and networking. The MFPC is responsible for the task of selecting programme groups made up of Malaysian manufacturers with product attributes that measure up to the Japanese requirements. The confirmed criteria will be announced later and qualified local manufacturers who are interested to establish their position in the Far East market are invited to join the programme.

“We aim to facilitate Malaysian furniture manufacturers to expand to the Far East market.  Our selection criteria will be strictly based on Japanese furniture standards, product technical characteristics and performance, durability and maintenance requirement, the ability to comply with the niche market needs in the contract furnishing sector and overall quality products. This would include design, consistency, stability and durability. Programme group players will also be selected based on the profile of the manufacturer, product pricing and representation of advertising and promotional materials. Hence, selected groups must be committed to deliver quality products and participate in all programmes outlined in this project,” Wang added.

Japan is Malaysia’s second largest export market after USA, accounting for over RM 650 billion worth of exports or 5% of Japan’s imports in 2003. Wooden furniture, the star performer of Malaysia’s timber product sector, accounts to almost 50% of Japanese furniture imports. With the launch of JM FURNEXPRO, bilateral ties between both countries will be further strengthened from this mutually beneficial relationship. Malaysia’s foreign exchange earning sector
gains from the improved exports and Japan will benefit from Malaysian furniture that delivers value and quality.

As the specialised taskforce entrusted to position Malaysia as a global focal point for world class furniture, the MFPC has planned a string of programmes and activities to facilitate the industry and elevate Malaysia’s position as global player in the international arena.