19 May 2024, 08:46
By <div class="field field-name-field-author field-type-text field-label-hidden"> Paul Farley </div> May 24, 2016

MIFF delivers solid results as evolution nears

MIFF, Malaysia’s flagship exhibition, kicked off this year’s string of Far Eastern events with confidence, its organiser reporting record sales and the presence of a greater number of international buyers.

According to organiser UBM Malaysia, this year’s Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) achieved record sales of US$908m and drew more overseas buyers than previously, including a strong number of first-time visitors.

The show featured around 500 exhibitors from 15 countries and regions, and reportedly attracted nearly 20,000 trade visitors, the share of international buyers increasing by 3% to 5340, with 30% attending the show for the first time.

Visitors attended from 130 countries and regions, marked by strong increases in numbers from Europe, North America, the Far East and Australasia, and a steady turnout from neighbouring ASEAN countries. The show recorded a 5% jump in orders, surpassing last year’s $865m and the previous high of $892m in 2014.

Ahead of its part-relocation to the new Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre in 2018 – which will provide a much-needed expansion of the event’s footprint, extending it by 25% to 100,000m2 – MIFF continues to offer a solid complement of furniture for the home and office, dominated by rubberwood and metal.

Although MIFF’s offer is gradually becoming more contemporary, on the whole it remains lacking in original design flourish. That said, there are examples of stand-out models, some of which were highlighted through the show’s Furniture Excellence Award, assessed by an international panel of experts including Furniture News’ Paul Farley.

The overall winner, Asahi Co’s comfortable, minimalist Pulito sofa, was the star of the new Essence of Japan cluster of exhibitors. Whilst luxury goods of Pulito’s standard are by no means central to the show’s offer, their presence goes to show that there is more variety present than one might think. Other trends unearthed by the competition included upholstered dining chairs and vacuum-formed bedroom surfaces.

The well-established Furniture Design Competition (FDC) saw 27-year-old Lim Bo Qiang’s Muk Sofa, a modular low-seating system that doubles up as a sofa, two-chair combination and storage solution, awarded the top prize. This competition continues to champion young designers and encourage their work with the industry.

Although MIFF has delivered added value through the years in the form of its competitions, seminars and social events, it remains at heart a transactional event, and this year’s show saw the exhibition begin to reach outside the confines of its halls, as UBM’s strategic B2B alliance with online sourcing platform Alibaba made its debut.

The partnership, which aims to facilitate year-round trade purchases through preferred exhibitors, promising “a new generation of online-to-offline trade experience”, provides a trade assurance programme to encourage cross-border deals and increase the relevance of UBM’s trade events to their participants. It will be interesting to see what long-term effects this partnership might have.

MIFF is clearly working hard to establish its relevance to the developing market. Recent years have seen the general show circuit deviate from MIFF’s fixture, making hopping between fairs difficult for some buyers. The 2017 show will take place from 8-11th March – a significant shift in the timeline that dovetails far better with events in neighbouring countries. MIFF will continue to occupy the PWTC and MECC venues until the subsequent edition.

In summary, MIFF’s general manager, Karen Goi, comments: “We received very good feedback from exhibitors. There were many new products, more visitors and first-time buyers, all adding to the strong business synergy felt throughout the week. This is a very good outcome as we gear up for a bigger show in 2018. We will certainly expand our efforts to attract more new and returning customers in the future.”

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