Although the office furniture market is almost at a standstill in some parts of the world, the situation is very different in China; a rapidly evolving market that continues to generate substantial opportunities.
The country, which assumed the mantle of the world's largest office furniture exporter in 2004, has experienced 16 per cent growth in export volumes during intervening years. Indeed, according to the Centre for Industrial Studies (CSIL), the total value of Chinese product exported to more than 200 countries in 2012 was US $ 3.2 billion.
CIFF-Office Show, the largest exhibition in the world dedicated to the office and service industry furnishings sector, reflects the progress of the Chinese market.
61,000 qualified operators visited the latest edition of the event which took place from 27th to 30th March. This represented an increase of 2.12 per cent in visitor numbers compared with 2012.
CIFF-Office Show 2013, the only exhibition in Asia specialising in complete solutions for the supply and interior design of work spaces, hotels and public spaces, attracted 12,225 visitors from major international markets (a 7 per cent increase on the previous year).
In addition to sampling products offered by more than 900 exhibitors over a floor area of 210,000 square metres, visitors experienced the attractions of Guangzhou (the capital and largest city within Guangdong Province) as an emerging business destination.
The design of products on display at the exhibition reflected recent industry trends including the requirement for "eco-sustainability" and better workspace quality, office provisioning for job sharing, developments in ergonomics; and the move towards modular and multi-configurable workspace units.
Exhibitors presented visitors with a huge choice of colour and material combinations, and designs that clearly focused on employee comfort, wellbeing and productivity.
One of the most popular events at the exhibition was the 2nd Global Office Furniture Outlook: a discussion forum organised by Ciff-Office Show and Edimotion which analysed the strategies and tools that are needed to build a brand and achieve success in each of the main global office furniture markets. Attended by journalists and marketing communications experts from Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States, the round table discussion revealed purchasing decisions are often based on a combination of cultural, economic and local market considerations, and concluded furniture manufacturers should acquire detailed knowledge of individual markets before adapting products to meet local needs.