Asia a fitting home for luxury furniture firms

Business Times: Sat, Nov 12
Singapore LUXURY furniture brands in the $50 million Space Asia Hub – which opened yesterday – expect to benefit from the growing Asian appetite for high-end furnishings.
The 40,000 square foot Space Asia Hub at Bencoolen Street houses new concepts by some of the top furniture designers in the world – including B&B Italia/Maxalto, Carl Hansen & Son, Giorgetti, Kartell, Poliform and Vitra.
Furniture brands that BT spoke to said that buyers from Asia – especially Singapore – now make up a significant chunk of their clientele.
Marco Longoni, Poliform’s export division manager, said that the Italian brand gets about 20 per cent of its global turnover from Asia. ‘Poliform in the 1990s was completely oriented towards the Italian and European markets,’ he said. ‘But our revenue from Asia has more than doubled in the last 10 years. In particular, interest in our furniture is very strong in Hong Kong and Singapore.’
Each city accounts for about a quarter of the group’s revenue from Asia, said Mr Longoni. He expects growth to be maintained in the years to come as standards of living rise across Asia.
Arianna Borgonovo, Giorgetti’s export manager, agrees with the assessment. Asia accounts for around 35 per cent of the group’s revenue, she said. Within the region, China is the biggest market by far. But Singapore, which accounts for about 7 per cent of Giorgetti’s global turnover, has also become an important market for the retailer. The market in Singapore has seen year-on-year growth of about 10 per cent over the last few years, she said.
‘We see a lot of people who live in Singapore buying our furniture for homes in areas such as Sentosa Cove,’ Ms Borgonovo said.
Banking on rising interest in their products, luxury furniture brands in Space Asia Hub have pulled out all the stops for their showrooms. The interiors occupied by each brand have distinctive characters of their own, said Syddal Wee, general manager of Space Furniture’s Asia operations.
‘The Space Asia Hub is a gallery of furniture design, second to none,’ Mr Wee said. ‘From the dramatic vertical landscaped wall in the enclave occupied by B&B Italia/Maxalto, to the scenic verandah decks showing Flexform Mood furniture, each brand area has its own unique identity.’
B&B Italia/Maxalto has launched a 7,000 sq ft showroom, while Flexform Mood, an exclusive product line of the Flexform group, will take up a chunk of space in a ‘glass block’ within Space Asia Hub.
Many of the brands represented at Space Asia Hub also equip fittings at high-end residential projects in precincts such as Orchard Road and Sentosa Cove. This aspect of the business has also grown, said Poliform’s Mr Longoni. His company, for example, draws 70 per cent of its revenue in Singapore from fittings, while the remaining 30 per cent comes from retail sales.
First launched in Sydney in 1993, Space Furniture now has five purpose-built showrooms – in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
The company’s Space Asia Hub will join other furniture showcases in Singapore such as the International Furniture Centre, a furniture export and retail centre located in Sungei Kadut which serves both local and international buyers.
The International Furniture Centre, opened in 2007 and built by Singapore Furniture Industries Council, showcases more than 30 local and international brands spread over its 160,000 sq ft of retail and office space.
Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.

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