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The New Zealand furniture industry is set for a major refurbishment with the launch of a new seal of quality which promotes trained staff who produce well made furniture and gives locally made products a much needed advantage over cheaper imported rivals.
The launch of “Master Seal” aims to counter the effect of a phenomenal growth in low cost imported furniture, mainly from Asia, over the past few years, some of which doesn’t meet acceptable quality standards.
Chairman of the Furniture & Cabinet Making Association of New Zealand Blair McKolskey, says that New Zealand has a long tradition of producing quality furniture, often using local wood products, and nurturing the talent of young craftspeople, but the industry has struggled to survive in recent years.
The Master Seal is the brainchild of FITEC, the national forest and wood industry training organisation, and is supported by The Furniture & Cabinet Making Association of New Zealand. Both organisations have a commitment to providing formal training locally so that New Zealand continues to produce well made, world class furniture.
“The industry has had its back against the wall as we battle against imported furniture combined with the effect of a world recession which has affected sales across the board,” McKolskey says, “The industry body wants to demonstrate its commitment to New Zealand craftspeople who are producing quality furniture, and by introducing this seal we are educating and encouraging consumers to buy local.”
Use of the seal is conditional on at least 50% of a company’s staff having a recognised trade qualification, or who are currently in training. Company employees are measured against NZQA standards and holders of this Seal guarantee that their employees are trained to these standards.
There are four Master Seals that companies can apply for - Master Furniture Maker, Master Cabinet Maker, Master Bedding Maker and Master FurnitureFinisher (polisher). Consumers can see them clearly marked on the furniture by swing tags or stickers when they make their purchases.
Furniture is big business in New Zealand. It is worth $1.3 billion with domestic manufacturing sales currently at $960 million. The industry currently employs around 6,000 people.
The Master Seal designs will be unveiled at a function for the industry at Sealy NZ Ltd, New Zealand’s number two bed manufacturer, and globally the biggest selling bed brand in the world on Monday August 15 at noon at their factory on Auckland’s North Shore. Members of FITEC and the Furniture & Cabinetmaking Association of New Zealand will be hosting the event and key supporters will be attending including major furniture retainer Harvey Norman (a strong supporter of Master Seal) representatives along with other key furniture manufacturers.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate our local craftspeople, to highlight what consumers should look for when purchasing a piece of furniture, and to support our industry to ensure its survival and growth,” Blair says.