These days, imported furniture – no matter how well-used and dirty – is more appealing to a lot of Ghanaians than locally made ones.
The excuse? Well, imported furniture is of a higher quality; local furniture does not have the best of finishing, and the upholstery materials used for them are sub-standard and come to shreds in no time.
Observations made by the B&FT show that the market is very well flooded with imported furniture these days, for both office and living room use – edging some local carpenters out of business.
In every nook and cranny of Accra, street-side shops dealing in imported furniture – some of which come with plastic wrapping – are seen doing brisk business, with La Paz – along the Mallam-Kasoa highway, being a major hub.
The prices of these mostly used (a few appear unused) furniture – mostly imported from the United States, Germany, Italy and the UK – range from GH₵1,500 to as high as GH₵22,000, depending on the quality and how new they look.
An Ashaley Botwe based dealer sells a set of three-in-one, and two singles furniture made of leather for GH₵2,200; and another set of the same kind made of fabric for GH₵1,800.
A shop at Lapaz sells a used three-in-one for GH₵1,500; and a set which is made up of two singles, one double seater, and a three-in-one seater for GH₵4,000. Leather furniture that appears unused sell for between GH₵9,000 to GH₵25,000 in this shop.
On the other hand, the local carpenters are selling new sets of furniture within the price range of GH₵2,500 to GH₵6,000, depending on the quality of material preferred by the client.
One carpenter at Mallam – a suburb of Accra – who wants to be known as Big Joe, says he produces a set of leather furniture for Gh₵2,500 depending on the design and material used.
An Abeka-based carpenter, Emmanuel Bekoe, also said a set of quality home furniture he produces could cost as much as GH₵6,000, depending on the customer’s specifications.
According to the local manufacturers, they have the capacity to produce furniture that is of a higher quality than those imported; but quality upholstery materials tend to be unavailable on the market, even as they also have technology and machinery challenges.
Yaw Boateng, a regular patron of imported furniture, said he likes them because the materials with which they are produced are of higher quality compared to those used by local manufacturers – though the imported ones are more expensive.
But Big Joe would have none of that excuse. He said they produce most of their furniture according to specifications given them by customers. Some of the customers, he said, opt to buy inferior materials for use in making the furniture because they are cheaper.
According to a new report by Allied Market Research, the global luxury furniture market is expected to reach US$27billion by 2020…registering a CAGR of 4.1 percent during 2015-2020.
Statista, another research organisation, estimates that furniture and home furnishings stores generated about US$106billion worth of sales in 2015.
And according to eMarketer, online sales of furniture will reach US$32billion by 2018 – growing at an annual rate of 11 percent and continuing to eat into brick-and-mortar sales.