ISTANBUL 

As Turkey has started to ease measures against the coronavirus, the country’s furniture sector is getting prepared for the post-pandemic period by accelerating production activities.

After spread of the COVID-19 virus across the globe, several sectors had to reduce or stop their businesses in many countries, including Turkey.

The manufacturing sector was one of the most-affected sectors due to measures to stem the spread of the virus, such as lockdowns.

Koray Caliskan, the chairman of Turkey’s oldest furniture mall Modoko, said the sector decided to speed up production as of May 1.

The sector’s exports decreased by 12% in March and around 40% in April on an annual basis, he said.

“It is very difficult to reach last year’s export figures of $3.5 billion, this year’s exports may reach $2-2.5 billion,” he underlined.

“Our aim is not to slow down production, we focused on wedding shopping, online trade and summer houses in the domestic market,” he added.

Modoko, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, had plans to open two furniture malls abroad, in the US and the United Arab Emirates, Caliskan said, but after the pandemic, projects were postponed and they opened a website for online trade.

“Some firms have even increased their sales [during the pandemic period. There is mobility in sales of worktables, chairs, and more comfortable minimal seats,” he stated.

Exports to rise in June

Nuri Gurcan, the head of the Furniture Industry Businessmen’s Association, said Turkey can raise its share in markets where China’s activity has decreased during this period.

He recalled the $100 billion bilateral trade target between Turkey and the US, and said Turkey can take a share from the US market.

Gurcan asserted: “Italy is the only competitor of Turkey in the furniture sector globally but we can produce well-designed furniture products faster and cheaper than Italy.”

He also said the sector expects an increase in exports as of June.

“Our industry grows 10-15% every year. This year, our goal is not to drop our growth rate below 5%,” he added.

The government, he said, took all necessary steps to protect manufacturers, and added the sector also expects some easiness for freight shipments in customs.

Investments continue

Turgay Terzi, the head of Istanbul-based furniture firm Art Design, said his firm closed after the virus broke out in Turkey in March and reopened last week.

“We continued to produce furniture while we were closed, we were in contact with our customers over telephone and video chat systems, and used 3D applications,” he said.

People’s choice was for stylish yet comfortable furniture in this period, Terzi remarked.

“Office furniture is not suitable for home use, so we blended office and home furniture, such as a dining table that can be used as a worktable as well” he highlighted.

“There is a half-decrease in both production and sales compared to the last year, the wheels are spinning slowly.”

Terzi also said that his company did not stop its investments and is planning to open a new branch.

Measures to stem the spread of the virus caused economic slowdown across the globe, especially in the aviation, travel, tourism and manufacturing sectors.

The pandemic has killed more than 302,400 people worldwide with over 4.44 million confirmed cases, while recoveries have surpassed 1.58 million.

In Turkey, the virus has infected 144,749 people so far and caused 4,007 deaths.

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