Solid showing in Turkish furniture exports despite virus
Turkey’s buoyant furniture sector managed to maintain its strong export performance in 2020 despite the coronavirus, according to industry experts.
Nuri Gürcan, head of the Furniture Industry Businessmen Association, said Turkey’s exports in 2020 totaled $3.5 billion, unchanged from the previous year, bucking the challenges of the pandemic.
Last year’s figures made Turkey the eighth-largest furniture exporter in the world, close on the heels of the U.S. with $4.7 billion and Canada at $3.7 billion.
“If we hit our target for 2021, which is around $4 billion to $4.5 billion, we’ll climb to seventh place,” he said.
Nimble market mover
Turkey is also the world’s 13th-largest furniture manufacturer, and Gürcan said it managed to reach these impressive figures despite the virus thanks to its ability to keep sales channels active.
Iraq, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Israel, France, Libya, the UK, Romania, and the Netherlands were Turkish furniture’s main export markets in 2020, he said.
“Especially 2020 was a banner growth year for our exports to the U.S.,” he added.
China took a back seat because it was ground zero for the virus, according to Gürcan, stressing that runaway freight costs made European countries turn closer to home to Turkey.
Koray Çalışkan, the chairman of Modoko, Turkey’s oldest furniture showroom, also praised the country’s strong export performance last year, saying Turkish furniture was one of the sectors that reacted the quickest to the changing pandemic market.
Sector players launched online shopping websites to meet demand during the lockdown, he said.
“We prepared the infrastructure for a virtual fair, which will last 365 days in an industry first,” he said.
Showroom hub in the US
Çalışkan highlighted that over the last two decades, Turkish exports surged 18-fold.
“Our focus now should be on how to boost our exports-per-kilogram,” he said, stressing that the sector is seeking ways to rack up more sales in the U.S.
Modoko wants to open a furniture showroom in the U.S. in 2021, similar to the one it already has in Dubai.
“We’re in the final stages for opening a showroom in the U.S.,” said Çalışkan.
“Using this center in the U.S., we’ll export more easily to Latin American countries.”
Besides boosting exports, the sector wants to create a perception of Turkish furniture and enhance its brand value abroad, he said.
“We’re an industry that sees a rise in exports every year, but in 2020 due to the pandemic, it was unchanged from the previous year,” said Çalışkan.