The State government plans to establish a 500-acre furniture hub in Turicorin, a first of its kind in the country.
The hub, which is expected to house over 35 units, could attract a total investment of around ₹4,000 crore to develop a complete ecosystem for the furniture sector, making it India’s first largescale furniture hub, according to sources.
The global furniture industry is a $600 billion industry, with estimated global exports of $125 billion. Currently, India is a minor player, but has a great potential to be among the top three global players.
The State-run Sipcot has invited a Request for Proposal (RFP) for selection of a consultant to prepare a techno-economic feasibility report and provide investment promotion and facilitation for setting up the furniture hub.
Some of the major challenges that the country needs to address to become a global hub for furniture are the limited availability of certified cost competitive raw materials, lack of scale of operation and in-efficient logistics. Skill development and capacity building across all levels and developing training facilities for the furniture sector are also very important factors to strengthen furniture industry. Setting up large-scale furniture parks near ports, with leading furniture and wood panel companies, will hence be a crucial step to boost the furniture industry, the RFP document says.
Tuticorin’s advantage is the VO Chidambaranar port with well established connections to global destinations, and also availability of labour and raw material.
A source in the VOC port said that currently India does not have any plug-and-play infrastructure for large scale manufacturing like Vietnam. There is adequate land available, . Besides, wood import is already happening with the port consistently handling over 1 lakh tonnes of timber annually. Skilled labour is available in large numbers, he said.
G Sundar of the Karaikudi-based Kalinga Crafts, manufacturers of furniture, said that Tuticorin is one of the best choices due to port. It will help people of southern districts to get jobs.
At the furniture hub, one incubator cell will be needed with wood working machines for training. Availability of a large number of skilled workers will be key for the success of the hub. The hub should have an exhibition hall to showcase all types of furniture where sellers and buyers meet on one platform. Plantation promotion is a must for raw materials. This will help in saving huge foreign exchange, he added.