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Shifting Dynamics: The Evolving Landscape of India’s Furniture Industry Post-COVID-19

FDT Bureau

Shifting Dynamics: The Evolving Landscape of India’s Furniture Industry Post-COVID-19
Image credit: Orange Tree

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the global supply chain of furniture, with disruptions in manufacturing, transportation and logistics. India, as one of the major players in the global furniture industry, has played a crucial role in the post-pandemic supply chain of furniture. India is a major manufacturing hub for furniture, with a large number of furniture manufacturers and exporters. Despite the pandemic-related challenges, Indian manufacturers have continued to produce furniture and meet the demands of global customers. Some Indian furniture manufacturers have even expanded their production capacities to cater to the growing demand for furniture.

With a population of 1.3 billion and a huge untapped homebuyer market, Gaurav Jain, Creative Director and Founder, Orange Tree believe that the pandemic changed the game for home decor, especially in India. “As a result, in the last couple of years, we have seen the entry of many new players – domestic and international in India, implying that even the West has seen the staggering growth of the Indian decor market.” Post-Covid, India has gained eyeballs for a number of companies whose supply chain relocation has become a top priority in the wake of the pandemic. Rahul Vadera, Founder, Renovation Factory, cites, “The liberal FDI norms, favourable environment, constantly improving infrastructure and an enormous amount of consumer base has made India a top contender to emerge as a global manufacturing hub.”

 

Expected shifts

Image credit: Maison Du Luxe

Make in India was the call for a self-reliant India and emphasis on Aatmanirbhar Bharat was an opportunity that gave direction to the efforts of start-ups and tech ecosystems to innovate, develop and promote homegrown goods. The furniture sector in India has grown by leaps and bounds, not just in quantity but in quality as well. However, this growth in demand weighs in on the availability of raw materials and to an extent on importing finished goods. Furniture export primarily comprises low-value-added products with low competitiveness in the global market. A report by Ikea confirms, that nearly 3/4th of the furniture exports from India in 2019 consisted of low value-add products such as wooden frames and articles, prefabricated furniture goods, articles of bedding, etc, while the demand for finished and intermediate products in India is majorly met through imports. Faisal states that materials and designs are observing a slow evolution as well. “Most of the Indian designers don’t shy away from copying international brands, and no one is interested in pointing it out. There are not many expectations from the consumers either. So it is pretty much how the Chinese industry was 20 years ago – being reputed for making mockups of European and American designs. Unfortunately, we are following that path and not respecting what we already have.”

Additionally, the Indian furniture sector is majorly fragmented with micro and small players. This unorganized segment accounts for 80 per cent of the market, thus dominating the industry by offering cheaper products as opposed to the ones available through the organized segment. Faisal points out the harsh reality, “The government alone can’t help here. It is a cultural attitude where we have this idea of jugaad for everything. Additionally, there is a lot of plagiarism in the industry. Moreover, there is no cultural motivation to go outside and show the skills and determination to the world what we are capable of, such as the Scandinavian market or the Japanese market.”

However, the Indian furniture market is shifting from the unorganized segment to the organized one. According to Puneet Budhiraja, Founder, Quba Homes, “While several furniture or modular kitchen firms in India, like us, began by importing goods from other countries, this has now changed. Many such firms have now set up their own factories and create good quality products in collaboration with ace designers.” Adding to it, Jain says, “In fact, since the pandemic, many new entrants have entered the market and either they manufacture themselves or source from manufacturing hubs like Muradabad.”

 

Adaptability in materials and design

Image credit: Quba Homes

With the rising number of brands and designers, who are known for delivering world-class quality products, the market has become niche. “The consumer of today is well aware of the standards globally and the expectations are higher but the country today is very much capable of delivering the same,” asserts Vadera. Additionally, Sneha Jajoo, Principal Designer, SAAR informs, “After the pandemic, designers have shifted to using local materials and local crafts, which is getting back our lost culture in arts and crafts.”

The Government of India identified the furniture industry as a key enabler to expand the reach of Make in India goods across the globe. The growing desire to add luxury to homes and offices is fueling the Make in India initiative to bring a lot of new units to India. Jain alludes, “Scars of the pandemic have reverberated through all businesses for sure but at the same time while people across demographics are skewed towards e-tails. Mindful living has evolved by shopping more consciously and buying locally, viewing brands through a new lens and a new light of environmental impact.” Additionally, Kapur mentions, “There has been a huge boom in the Indian manufacturing segment, and lots of architects and designers who were purely relying on China are now going to Italy. Even some HNIs that used to rely on Italy have given an opportunity to India and have realised that they are not very far away from what they require.”

Consumers and designers are embracing the eco-friendly approach. The use of natural elements like wood, marble, concrete, bamboo, and conscious finishes is being adopted. Highlighting the shifts observed in the sector, Jain says, “Handcrafted products are in demand not just for the aesthetic appeal but for the socio-economic impact. Minimalistic, no-fuss designs, multi-functional spaces with versatile pieces, rich in textures, set to create an air of warmth, spaciousness and comfort.” In addition, Budhiraja asserts, “Minimum dependency on foreign markets and an increase in procurement and production of furniture will undoubtedly be a significant shift in the Indian furniture industry.” However, “brands would still be importing certain goods from the global market, which might need to be more readily available in India. But there is a low import dependency, for sure. So instead, many Indian brands are now exporting products to other markets.”

 

 


This article is a part of our exclusive article ‘Cover Story’ which is originally published in Furniture Design & Technology (FDT Magazine) April 2023 print issue. If you want to read the full article, please subscribe Furniture Design & Technology Magazine here: 

http://www.furnituredesignindia.com/subscrib 

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