Fair Out to Get More Furniture Buyers

UBM Malaysia will be kicking off the 22nd edition of the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) tomorrow.

Happening from March 1 to 5, the fair will be the first to see to the alliance between UBM Asia and Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group, under the latter's Trade Assurance Programme.

According to UBM Asia managing director (Asean Business) M. Gandhi, the programme was previously limited to Chinese manufacturing companies and has never been done beyond the country.

"Malaysia is the first country where this programme will be carried out; we have carefully selected 100 Malaysian furniture manufacturers for this," he said.

Gandhi noted that through the programme, Alibaba will vouch for the standards and quality of product as well as the delivery time, or buyers' money back.

"The whole idea of this is to encourage more export and to get more buyers into Malaysia," he said.

In addition to the programme, the 100 manufacturers will also be listed as "gold suppliers" in which they will be the first to be prompted in relevant searches and enquiries at Alibaba's site.

"UBM's collaboration with Alibaba Group extends the online experience to the floor as interested buyers can register through the website and meet the manufacturer here in Malaysia, after which they can go back to O-and-O (online to offline marketing)," added MIFF general manager Karen Goi.

Gandhi said the pilot programme here can be a test to measure how Malaysian exporters can go beyond.

"The programme will be free of charge for selected manufacturers from March to May, but should they wish to continue, Matrade is ready to extend their support," she added.

The strategic alliance is a global agreement between UBM worldwide and Alibaba Group.

Speaking at the press conference, MIFF chairman Datuk Dr Tan Chin Huat said MIFF was a 100% exporters' avenue.

"Over the last two years, exhibition scales and export performances have been on a low and participants have also sized down.

"But MIFF remains strong because of the trade fair's nature, which is export," he highlighted.

He also said that MIFF forecasts the total export sales to grow by 5%.

"We hope to surpass US$900mil this year, from US$865mil last year." The fair will take place at two locations simultaneously - Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) and the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre (MECC) - taking up a total of 80,000sqm in space.

Five hundred furniture manufacturers and exporters from 14 countries will be exhibiting its products, including Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Korea, India, Vietnam, United States, Spain, Italy, France and Finland.

Marking another first for the fair, Japan will also be participating in the exhibition.

"Six Japanese manufacturing companies will be joining in, and this marks the first time they have taken part in an overseas exhibition.

"We have received word that many buyers are anticipating Japanese fine furniture," Goi shared.

The five-day exhibition is expecting to draw 20,000 visitors, of which 6,000 are international buyers from 140 countries.

The opening ceremony at Seri Pacific Hotel tomorrow, will see the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi while International Trade and Industry Minister II Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan is set to attend the Buyers Night, which will take place on March 2 at Sunway Putra Hotel Kuala Lumpur.

Among other highlights include the Furniture Excellence Award, Best Presentation Award and MIFF Furniture Design Competition prize presentation ceremony as well as industry seminars featuring speakers such as Shinichi Mitsuki from Mitsui Designtec Co Ltd in Japan, as well as Australia Furniture Associations (AFA) chief executive officer Patrizia Torelli.

In addition, Gandhi shared that MIFF will increase its show size by 25% in 2018 in line with the completion of Matrade's new venue, MITEC, by the year end of 2017.

"With the new venue in place, we will be able to segment exhibitors accordingly - office and mass market manufacturers at PWTC as well as house and home market manufacturers at MITEC," he said.

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