South African Furniture Industry

The South African Furniture Manufacturing Industry forms part of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2017/18 sectorial focus with the objective to improve furniture competiveness and market access. The sectors importance to the South African economy stems from its labor-intensity and potential to contribute to increased exports thus offering opportunities for the development of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). Currently the industry employs approximately 28,200 with a contribution of about 1% to manufacturing GDP and 1.1% to manufacturing employment. The sector comprises of mainly small to medium-sized furniture manufacturers ranging from those who make use of low technology and highly skilled craftsmen, to highly mechanized, high-volume manufacturing operations. Enterprises within the industry either belong to a manufacturing group or act independently, manufacturing and selling directly to the public. The type of furniture manufactured can be classified into office, household, mattresses, hospitality, and outdoor furniture with solid wood dominating the raw material input of the furniture manufacturing process.

The South African middle-class household spacing is gradually becoming smaller to accommodate middle-income earners, and therefore an opportunity presents itself in the manufacturing of bespoke furniture that will fit the modern household spaces at affordable costs however sectorial constraints include :

  • declining competitiveness,
  • access to furniture retail market and,
  • access to finance.
Amidst of the prevailing challenges, opportunities for the development and transformation of the sector also arise which include development of skills, integration of creativity and design into manufacturing, and technology transfer for accelerated efficiency.

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