It has been 20 years since I started in the retail furniture market, and in that time there has been a huge shift in manufacturing. Production that was once dominated by the United States and Eastern Europe is now shifting more towards Asia, and the trend will continue. With no help from the high Euro dollar, companies that formerly sold their wares in a very competitive market have fallen to cutting corners and following suit with Chinese production. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very strong companies like the Ekornes Stressless line from Norway that have fought off any changes in there quality line of seating groups and recliners, but they are the shrinking exception. The good news is this. The Chinese production has gotten better and better with modern automation and the need for cost conscious production around the world.
As with anything there are various quality levels and Chinese production is not exempt from the age old saying, you get what you pay for. It is important to know what to look for and to not focus on saving money as the main goal when furnishing a home. I never thought I would see companies like Natuzzi with deep Italian root build factories in China, but they have, and with some degree of success. Of coarse the Chinese are not currently tanning many of the leather hides for their production, but even with the importation of the hides the end user can save approximately 30-40% on virtually identical items.
Companies like Kuka and Actona are doing a great job in the leather upholstery market offering well built products with a very competitive price. Even the quality has improved as many of the Chinese companies are simply adopting construction and design ideas from literally anyone making a desirable product. I have done my own side by side comparison on the same sofa produced by Natuzzi, one from Italy and one from China and there is no detectable difference except the price tag. Let’s face it, the Chinese built the Great Wall, furniture is small stuff compared to that!
TAGS: Furniture News