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The odyssey of Pakistani furniture sector

Pakistan, an agro-based economy with nominal GDP of $236 billion, imports furniture worth billions of rupees every year. During exhibitions, Pakistan-made furniture is exhibited, however, the imported furniture is given equal rather more preference. As regards prices, the imported furniture is relatively expensive vis-à-vis the local furniture. Pakistan’s furniture export has been dismal over the period whereas there is hike in import. In addition to the export to the United States of America, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan needs to concentrate on the export opportunities available in the leading furniture importing countries. United States of America, Germany, United Kingdom, France and Canada are the leading furniture importing countries globally. Undoubtedly, Pakistan would have to come up with innovative ideas to compete with the spectacular furniture exporting countries namely China, Germany, Italy, Poland and the United States of America.

Pakistan’s furniture market is believed to be worth around $3 billion. Global furniture market size is believed to be worth around $600 billion at present and is expected to be worth over $700 billion in a couple of years. This whopping figure calls for certain measures which may help the economy of Pakistan prosper. Locally made furniture is first rate, however, the imported furniture is being marketed more than the local furniture in Pakistan, which undoubtedly is out of this world.

Pakistani cities namely Chiniot, Gujrat, Peshawar and Gojra are popular for furniture. Gujrat, Chiniot, Multan, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Karachi are deemed mainstay for the furniture trade and manufacturing. There are thousands of artisans living in these cities who produce masterpieces, which could be exported to earn foreign exchange for the country. Modern technology, creativity and innovation are the hallmark of the Pakistani furniture. Pakistan’s renowned furniture styles comprise Antique, Mughal, Modern and Oriental. There is no denying the fact that Pakistan’s furniture sector has got breakthrough and has made marvelous strides in the wake of quality and workmanship. Pakistani furniture is not only made of wood but also plastic, metal, glass, leather and rubber to cater to multifarious segments of the market.

 

Gone are the days when furniture such as tables, chairs, beds, sofas, cupboards etc. were purchased once in lifetime. The life cycle of furniture products has decelerated owing to various reasons such as rapidly changing lifestyle, soaring purchasing prices of certain class of the society, global impact etc. At present, the middle class family does change the furniture at least once or twice in a decade. E-furniture markets are thriving in the country. The individuals born prior to 1970s reminisce the journey made through the Arambagh furniture market of Karachi for the purchase of furniture for festivals and events, however, the millennial prefer by and large online shopping to the traditional visit and haggling. Technology has made its way into the sale and purchase of furniture as well for over a decade across the major cities of Pakistan. The erstwhile brick-and-mortar retailers have been selling furniture through their online furniture stores. Convenience and wide array of products have fascinated the wide spectrum of the customers. The leading furniture and lifestyle brands have been enjoying windfall sales. Bonanza seasons of furniture sales have underpinned the confidence of the traditional traders to go online and grab the opportunities offered by the technology.

It is high time that Pakistan should take a major step towards initiating international trade of the Residential and Commercial Pakistani furniture and boost export of furniture by bringing awareness through trade exhibitions. It has been observed globally that the rising tourism industry helps develop the export opportunities. Since Pakistan is currently concentrating on tourism development, it is a marvelous opportunity to showcase the mind-blowing Pakistani furniture to the world. The forests cover only 4% area of Pakistan vis-à-vis the desired level of 25% so it would be prudent to focus more on other than wooden furniture. It is believed that over 90% furniture made in Pakistan is made from wood, which needs to be looked at for various reasons. Pakistan with over 700 furniture manufacturing workshops producing export quality furniture could make its mark in the world with prudent marketing strategies.

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