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Innovation key to survival of upholstery industry
Oct '08
Taiwan was reputed for its home textiles and upholstery fabrics industry at one time. But with passage of time, the industry started going downhill and most of the companies started shifting their operations to mainland China.

However, the declining number of companies also was a wake up call for the existing companies. They tightened their seat belts and brought in vast improvements in their operations and production modes.

To stay competitive globally, they started churning out high value and high end products which brought in equally lofty margins.

A classic example of this new breed of manufacturers is Fuchi Interior Ltd. Since it started operations in 1963, the company has weathered many storms and witnessed a lot of ups and downs.

Today, Fuchi is considered one of the leading upholstery and drapery manufacturers in the country. Fuchi originally started by manufacturing garments in 1963. Its foray in to production of upholstery began in 1973. In the initial years, the company grew rapidly along with the thriving furniture industry.

In 1982, it separated upholstery in to an independent division to handle the growing market. 1989 was a turning point year for Fuchi. That was the year it launched its first branded upholstery 'Aster' followed by another brand 'Abb & Ab' in 2000.

To improve quality of its products, Fuchi introduced technologically advanced machineries to roll out high end fabrics which became an immediate hit with furniture manufacturers and interior designers. It has continued the process of rolling out a stream of high end innovative fabrics since then.

The 80's brought a depression in to the once thriving furniture industry. Most of them shifted to the mainland to maintain their cost competitiveness. Most of the upholstery producers followed suit. Fuchi was one of them.

Fuchi opened its first production plant in Qingdao, Shandong province in Mainland China in 1992 and to increase its foothold it opened its second plant in Changchun, Jilin Province in 1995. A leather cutting plant was added in 2002 in Shanghai.

As of date, the Taiwanese operations are restricted to only rolling out very high-end products and to research and development activities which is the core to the success of Fuchi.

Fuchi has now become a pan Asia player in the upholstery industry. It established its first overseas unit in Malaysia in 1998 and set up a plant in Thailand in 2005 to manufacture fabrics and leathers for vehicle seat covers. Fuchi is exploring other markets worldwide and replicate its success in those markets.

Fuchi has more than 900 patterns of upholstery on offer in a wide range of fabrics like jacquard, sheer, blinder and velvet. It also offers performance fabrics like flame-resistant fabrics, dust-proof and quick-dry fabrics and also fabrics that can block ultra-violet rays of the sun.

With growing eco-conscious awareness among thedeveloped nations, it has started special production lines of such eco-friendly fabrics that can be recycled and are environmentally friendly.

Experts aver that, the trends in upholstery change very fast and the usual life cycle of a pattern is only 1-2 years and add that today, Fuchi is a formidable player in the upholstery industry and is able to stay ahead of the vast number of copycats on the strength of its constant innovation.

Due to the same it has been able to insulate itself in the fiercely competitive markets of the upholstery industry they conclude.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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