Turkish Furniture Producers Have Big Plans for Exports to U.S.

Image ISTANBUL — The ISMOB Furniture Fair here Jan. 27-Feb. 1 highlighted a wide range of Turkish and international furniture styles and served as a coming out party of sorts for MOSFED, a recently formed furniture federation that brings together seven regional furniture associations.
Unlike U.S. markets in which individual furniture companies secure and display in their own spaces, at ISMOB most manufacturers exhibit within clusters allocated to their regional association.

MOSFED, the Federation of Furniture Assns., is under the chairmanship of Ahmet Gulec, who is also chairman of Turkish furniture manufacturer NDesign. In an exclusive interview with Furniture/Today, Gulec indicated that the federation, with the support of the Turkish government, is looking to dramatically expand furniture exports and has specifically identified the U.S. as the prime market for that expansion.

“We must export to more countries like the United States and Germany,” Gulec told Furniture/Today. “Success can only be achieved through an emphasis on design and innovation.”

Gulec said the federation has established a goal of exporting $3 billion in furniture to the U.S. within the coming decade — a substantial amount given that total U.S. home furnishings imports from Turkey were $24.5 million in 2013, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures and Furniture/Today market research.

Speaking at a MOSFED gala dinner during the fair, Vegsel Parlak, Turkey’s general manager of exportation, said the goal is $15 billion to $20 billion in total furniture exports.

“This is my belief,” he told the assemblage. “Turkey should be in the Top 5 (of furniture exporters).” He added, “We are at your service 24/7. Call us and we can come to you. With the help of the ministry you can be successful.”

Parlak, like MOSFED’s Gulec, stressed the importance of design in helping Turkey achieve its export goals. Both men identified Italy and its history as a resource for cutting-edge design as the model for Turkey’s future furniture efforts.

The ISMOB Furniture Fair offered ample evidence of the country’s furniture design direction, which ranges from highly ornate, classically European designs to mid-century modern and contemporary offerings. Encompassing some 500 largely Turkish exhibitors, the fair had an additional 200 requests for space but no room to accommodate them, according to Mehmet Simsek, Turkey’s minister of economy.

Among the international exhibitors were Lifestyle Enterprise and Ashley Furniture, both of which were relegated to an outlying building, accessible by an outdoor covered walkway connecting that building with the main complex. Ashley recently opened its first store in Turkey, in the city of Inegol, a furniture manufacturing center that is a shopping destination for young Turkish couples setting up their first households.

According to Ashley’s international marketing specialists, Dave Maxey and Abdul Ayyad, the company’s showroom was busy from start to finish with international buyers expressing a strong interest in the company’s American-style designs.

The Turkish exhibitors offered extensive collections of new product spanning case goods, upholstery, youth furniture and occasional, although the largest presentations were in upholstery. Many of the Turkish manufacturers expressed the intent of expanding exports to the U.S., including those that have tested the American market before as well as first time exporters to the States.

Youth furniture producer Cilek, for example, one of the larger manufacturers in Turkey, says it does about 40% of its business or $20 million annually in exports. According to the company’s export manager, Behlut Nergiz, the company is looking to increase exports to represent approximately 90% of annual volume within the next five years.

He said that to help accomplish that goal, the company recently implemented lean manufacturing standards, which has allowed it to reduce prices by 20%. Having already tested the U.S. waters, Nergiz said the company has assessed its prior efforts and has adjusted to achieve better results moving forward.

Like Cilek, Turkish case goods and upholstery manufacturer Vanessa has established itself in the U.S. and will be showing at the April High Point Market. At ISMOB, the company showed a range of new contemporary styles aimed at the domestic and export market.

Yatas, another of Turkey’s larger manufacturers, is also looking to expand its U.S. presence and came to ISMOB with a range of new mattress and furniture designs. According to Habibe Altop, a principal of the company, Yatas is looking at utilizing its website as an international sales tool, beginning with a focus on its historic core of mattresses.

“We are looking to demonstrate vignette merchandising, not just furniture, but accessorization and merchandising as a selling concept,” Altop said.

At the other end of the style spectrum is Adnan Bostan, which offers highly ornate, classically designed furniture that is hand-made and painted. The company showed several new high-end designs at the fair, including custom-designed pieces. (Bill McLoughlin -- Furniture Today, February 16, 2015)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07