Growing interest for Swedish wood in China
Between 2000 and 2005, Chinese timber imports tripled from 10 million to 30 million cubic metres. The import of sawn solid wood products also experienced a similar trend. During the second quarter of 2009, China was the world’s second-biggest importer of sawn softwood products.
The biggest volumes originate from Russia and Canada. Imports from Europe remain relatively modest. During the first six months of this year, almost 30% more sawn solid wood products were imported than during the corresponding period in 2008.
Chinese wood businesses visiting SCA
Autumn 2009 several wood finishing companies from visited SCAs saw mills in Tunadal, Bollsta, Rundvik and Munksund. Several of SCA’s customers from China expressed the hope of establishing a close collaborative relationship with the aim of securing longterm and reliable supplies of raw material.
Swedish wood has become popular in China, partly due to IKEA starting operations there. “The lighter Nordic wood varieties are seen as modern and trendy amongst young Chinese,” says Edmunt Tong, SCA in China. Spruce and pine from Scandinavia have increasingly replaced dark wood varieties in furniture and interior design.
Doing business together since 2005
Since 2005, SCA Timber, working in collaboration with a wood finishing company in Southern China, has licensed the manufacture of window components from Swedish raw material for distribution to customers in Italy and the United Kingdom.
However, the focus has recently shifted to the sale of sawn timber to companies who produce items for the local market. The 1.3 billion Chinese, who are rapidly garnering an increasingly higher standard of living, constitute what is an almost insatiable market.
One such company is Shenzhen Sampo Furniture, the owner of which CEO is Guo Xian Yang. Previously his company manufactured pine furniture for the Japanese market. When demand for furniture in Japan fell, Yang decided to focus on the domestic Chinese market instead.
Today, his company has more than 70 stores in 20 or so Chinese cities. In a few years, he estimates he will be selling his furniture in more than 500 stores. “I work from the conviction that each store will generate sales of USD 100,000 a month,” notes Yang delightedly.
Wood finishing for the export market
Another customer category in China being prioritised by SCA is those companies which manufacture products for the export market. Simon Wang is CEO of Zhanjiang Huapin Wooden Products, whose 300 employees produce doors made from pine, primarily for customers in the UK and Ireland, but also for customers in the Middle East.
“We make around 150,000 door sets per year,” says Wang, “both in solid and veneered woods. But we’re now also taking a look at furnishing components such as panels and mouldings, made from both pine and spruce.”
Wholesalers and distributors
A third customer category for SCA in China is timber wholesalers and distributors on the domestic market. One of these companies is Jiang Men Gao Hong, which will soon be celebrating 10 years of importing wood raw material intended for use in sauna furnishing and furniture manufacture.