Innovative Singapore furniture hub planned

An innovative high-rise Singapore furniture hub is planned for 2018.

Devoted to furniture and furniture-related companies, the innovative multi-tenanted development is expected to be ready by the end of 2018. The JTC Furniture Hub @ Sungei Kadut will offer 63 modular units on a 2ha site. Details of the project were unveiled by Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang at the opening of the International Furniture Fair at Singapore Expo.

While the units range from 500 to 1000 sqm, they are flexible so businesses can combine several units to form larger floor plates of up to 3000 sqm. Each unit has a factory frontage, an office or reception mezzanine, a multi-use shop floor, and integrated loading and unloading bays.

JTC CEO Png Cheong Boon says he expects the hub to play an important role in transforming the furniture industry, as the clustering of different players allows companies to tap each other’s competencies, share resources and foster collaboration to enhance the industry’s overall competitiveness.

As companies move into the hub, he says, the estate’s infrastructure and connectivity will be enhanced.

Also at the hub will be a 10,000 sqm Furniture and Furnishings Experience Centre, to be established and managed by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC). It will comprise a trade showroom, training institute, eCommerce fulfilment centre and a design studio. The ground-floor trade showroom will be used for year-long trade displays for both local and international buyers.

SFIC president Ernie Koh says it will be an immense opportunity for local furniture companies to internationalise their brands.

“The centre will support an ecosystem of production, trade, showcase, design and training, fostering closer collaboration and synergies among local companies.”

A key initiative to help further develop the industry’s capabilities and talent is the Overseas Place-and-Train Program that offers furniture designers the chance to experience a three- to six-month attachment with overseas design houses or technology application companies, such as A Studio of Japan and Studio Makkink & Bey of The Netherlands. Following this, the designers will be expected to develop commercial prototypes and share their new knowledge at industry workshops and other events.

SFIC is exploring this initiative with IE Singapore and Spring under the Local Enterprise and Association Development program, and with the Workforce Development Agency (WDA).

Lim also highlighted two key structural trends – the rapid advancement of technology, in particular 3D printing, and the rise of the Asian middle class. He said the printing technology had the potential to change the way businesses manufacture and distribute furniture.

Singapore’s furniture industry is made up of more than 1900 companies employing more than 19,000 workers, contributing about S$1 billion (US$ 726.7 million) to the economy. The industry’s market size had been forecast to have reached S$6.25 billion last year, growing at a rate of 7.4 per cent since 2012. Singapore has an approximate 1.05 per cent share of the global furniture market.

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