The Bangladeshi furniture industry, in recent years, has been nothing short of a phoenix rising from its own ashes. With an astounding annual growth rate of 19-20 percent, it has emerged as a beacon of hope and prosperity in this South Asian nation. This article delves deep into the captivating journey of the Bangladeshi furniture industry, its milestones, challenges, and the winds of reform blowing through it.
The Export Promotion Bureau reveals that the Bangladeshi furniture industry boasts a staggering worth of Tk 25,000 crore. This financial feat showcases the industry’s significance and its burgeoning impact on the national economy.
Beyond its borders, the Bangladeshi furniture industry has spread its wings, achieving remarkable success in foreign markets. Over the past decade, data from the Export Promotion Bureau highlights a staggering 267 percent surge in exports. In the fiscal year 2011-2012, the country’s furniture exports stood at USD 27.14 million, soaring impressively to USD 76.41 million in the fiscal year 2019-2020.
Leading the charge towards this exceptional growth story is HATIL Complex Ltd, a name synonymous with innovation and excellence. As the country’s foremost furniture brand, it has become a game-changer in the Bangladeshi furniture landscape.
The evolution of HATIL was set in motion by Selim H. Rahman, the eldest son of Habibur Rahman, who is currently the chairman and managing director of HATIL Complex Ltd. Recognizing the industry’s traditional approach and lack of innovation, Selim embarked on a visionary journey.
Fast forward to today, nearly 35 years since its inception, HATIL has cemented itself as a household name. With 75 outlets across the nation and 18 overseas, it stands as a testament to unwavering commitment and resilience.
In an interview, Selim H. Rahman, the driving force behind HATIL and a pioneer in the Bangladesh furniture industry, shares his insights on the sector’s past and future.
The Transformation of the Local Furniture Industry
Selim H. Rahman: The furniture industry in Bangladesh has undergone significant development. Gone are the days when we heavily relied on imported foreign furniture to meet local demands. Thanks to government support and opportunities, local manufacturers have stepped up to fill this gap.
Challenges and the Need for Reform
Selim H. Rahman: While the industry has grown, it faces critical challenges. The lack of proper policies and regulations has led to varying manufacturing practices and standards within the furniture market. This disparity impacts pricing, with compliant brands facing higher production costs. Establishing structured guidelines is essential to unlock the industry’s true potential.
Preparing for LDC Graduation
Selim H. Rahman: As we approach our LDC graduation in 2026, we must prepare to compete in the global market. The trade benefits we enjoy today will change, and we need to develop the capabilities required to stay competitive. However, adequate preparation and communication on this matter are still lacking.
The Role of Public-Private Partnerships
Selim H. Rahman: Effective communication between the government and private sector is vital. We must address the shortage of skilled labor in the industry by revising education curricula. Additionally, changing perceptions about careers in carpentry and wood industries is crucial to attract young talent. Government policy support, such as duty-free import of raw materials, can catalyze growth, as witnessed in the Ready-made Garment (RMG) industry.
Navigating Global Supply Chain Disruptions
Selim H. Rahman: HATIL sources raw materials sustainably from overseas, but global supply chain disruptions pose challenges. To mitigate these risks, we explore local alternatives for some materials. Research and development efforts are underway to find domestic substitutes for imported materials. We are also diversifying international sources to ensure business continuity.
The Bangladeshi furniture industry, once rooted in tradition, is now on the cusp of transformation. Through visionary leadership, policy reforms, and innovative strategies, it has the potential to reach greater heights. As Bangladesh prepares to shed its LDC status, the furniture industry must adapt and evolve to compete globally. With public-private collaboration and a commitment to sustainability, this thriving sector can truly reach its full potential.