EFC | eThekwini Furniture Cluster
The EFC aims to boost the competitiveness of the local furniture sector and set the sector on a path where cluster members:
- Are better equipped to compete against cheap imports.
- Collectively reduce the costs of production.
- Create a strategic value-chain which is mutually beneficial for the entire process system.
As a manufacturer, designer, retailer or other stakeholder in the furniture space it is important to ask yourself – “where will I be in 10 years’ time?” This seems like a simple question, but when interrogated further can be quite daunting. Considering where you will be in 10 years’ time requires you to think about the following:
- Will you still be in business?
- Has your business grown?
- Are you able to compete against imports or other competitors?
- Who are your suppliers? What risks are associated with using them?
- Who are your customers? Are they the same? Have you diversified?
- What does your labour force look like? Are you retrenching staff? Have you employed more staff?
- How are you managing your supply chain relationships to ensure you meet market demand?
- What will be your biggest challenges?
Why is clustering important?
Faced with the questions above, one might not know where to start and question HOW to address them. Clustering is a vehicle for industry growth through the promotion of shared learning, leverage of funds for industry targeted programmes, collective interfacing for policy contributions, and facilitation of best local and international practice.
Promoting the development of the local furniture sector’s competitiveness has been identified as a priority for Economic Development in South Africa due to the influence it has on employment, industrialisation and local competitive advantage. This is because the local furniture sector has the third largest labour force in the country, low barriers to entry, and is close to market which is preferential for local customers.
The SA furniture sector is characterised by diminished demand for locally produced products due to the influx of low-cost Asian imports and a limited ability to differentiate local products in the domestic market against quality and price. Furthermore, the market is constrained by reduced research and development (R&D), low investment in skills development and technology innovation, and rising input costs. To combat this, existing entities and initiatives have attempted to develop the industry, however their approach has been fragmented and thus offers limited growth opportunities for the sector. This is why the EFC exists, in order to consolidate these fragmented approaches though targeted programmes and initiatives which strategically and intentionally facilitate the development of competitiveness within the sector.