It’s Exhibition Time in Southeast Asia
Every year, March is the month of furniture exhibitions in Southeast Asia, starting with the HAWA Expo in Vietnam, followed by the MIFF in Malaysia, Furniture Fair in Thailand, VIFA EXPO in Vietnam, IFEX in Indonesia, and finally, EFE Expo in Malaysia. A total of six exhibitions in two weeks! This is a good idea. It allows overseas buyers to visit exhibitions in five different countries. Most organizers of these exhibitions claim to be “the largest furniture trade fair” in Southeast Asia, but I am not sure how such claims are substantiated. One should question why there are two shows in Malaysia and as well as in Vietnam. Why are these not combined into one large show in each country? The answer is a bit complicated. But the main reason is that the exhibitions are organized by different either commercial companies or furniture associations who are unwilling to work together. The other reason is that neither Malaysia nor Vietnam has exhibition facilities large enough to host shows of such size.
Some of our colleagues visited the HAWA Expo in Vietnam last week and only saw a few international buyers. From day one, the show was open to the public. This resulted in a crowded show, at least on day two, but these visitors were no actual furniture buyers. Organizers have no economic reason to open an exhibition to the public except for the last day.
Last week, I visited the MIFF in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and this show also suffered from many overseas visitors. The MIFF is always held at two different venues, which is troublesome for visitors and organisers. This year’s MIFF comprises about 700 exhibitors, and 50% of those are mainland Chinese who would normally exhibit at the Furniture China 2023 in Shanghai. I truly wonder about the purpose of having so many mainland Chinese exhibitors except for the organisers to sell exhibition space.
Most of these mainland Chinese manufacturers are competing with Malaysian exhibitors. Why can a Malaysian furniture exhibition not focus mainly on Malaysian manufacturers and combine the MIFF with the EFE Expo to be held the same week?
This would greatly benefit not only the Malaysian woodworking industry but the visitors’ travel planning as well.
I hope that organisers and furniture associations do consider this for next year onwards.