Innovative online tool for Furniture Manufacturers to find growth opportunities

Innovative online tool for Furniture Manufacturers to find growth opportunities
Paige Sherriff, the Project Manager for the EFC

The eThekwini Furniture Cluster launches exciting new growth diagnostic to support furniture manufacturing and retail firms unlock growth

What are the new trends in the furniture sector that are being driven by the large retailers? How can furniture manufacturers practically unlock these local opportunities?

The eThekwini Furniture Cluster (EFC) recently launched GrowthFinder, an online diagnostic tool that has been developed to unlock growth for companies in the sector.

Paige Sherriff, the Project Manager for the EFC, says that the new tool is already proving to be a game changer. It is enabling Cluster members to formulate growth strategies based on commercial opportunities for localisation as identified by large customers in the sector.

“GrowthFinder has been developed to give companies in the sector a strategic advantage. By providing insight into exactly what furniture retailers want as well as the requirements of various business sectors, the diagnostic enables firms to develop informed strategies that drive profit and growth,” Paige explains.

Numerous independent retailers have provided input into the development of GrowthFinder, providing ongoing feedback and market intelligence for sectors such as hospitality, tourism and construction. This not only makes it robust in data, but applicable to the local furniture context.

“The key insights delivered by GrowthFinder are a unique combination of academic information, empirical evidence and actual on-the-ground experience, giving members access to decades of invaluable market intelligence,” says Paige. “To add even more value, it also includes product and fabrication demand forecasts from major South African retailers for the next three years.”

Traditionally, companies could only access these types of insights through extensive and expensive benchmarking exercises that collate large volumes of often vague market data. GrowthFinder now guides EFC members to informed action by evaluating their growth potential in terms of six growth predictors.

While the growth predictors are the key inputs for GrowthFinder, they are relevant to any sector. Paige says that companies that want to find growth should start by answering the following questions, all of which is supported in the diagnostic:

1. Historical Growth

How have your sales and profit grown in recent years? Are you ahead and looking to sustain your position or falling behind and looking to make up ground. This is your starting point and context.

2. NexGen Growth Drivers

How are you positioned in relation to global trends and value chain strategies that have driven growth for the best performing firms in your sector globally?

3. Market Demand

Are you selling the types of product and offering the service models that the market wants, as indicated by lead firms that make up the majority of demand in your industry?

4. Customer Satisfaction

Are your existing customers happy with your performance across a range of criteria and what is their view on your future growth prospects with them?

5. Productivity and Operational Excellence

How productive are your capital and labour? How do you perform on a range of operational performance metrics? How does your company’s way of working compare to best practice and is it likely to support your growth, whether that be in terms of higher sales, lower costs and/or greater profits?

6. Green Manufacturing

What is your firm’s carbon footprint? Are you instituting environmental sustainability practices that are likely to position you as a credible and verifiable Green Manufacturer?

“To grow a business’s profit requires an understanding of the market needs and an honest assessment of the company’s performance relative to those needs and its competition. By diagnosing the opportunity and developing committed action in pursuit of these opportunities, it is possible to develop strategies that will deliver growth,” says Paige.

This information is readily available to EFC members through GrowthFinder. Paige says that while the programme has just been launched, it is already proving to be a critical tool to the EFC’s members that have enrolled to use the diagnostic.

“GrowthFinder is valued at over R20 000 per report and can be accessed by non-members to assist with their company’s growth. Use of this programme is however an excellent reason to join the EFC as members receive one report per annum as part of their membership,” Paige explains.

The EFC will be showcasing GrowthFinder at its Annual General Meeting on 18 November, where a taster of what companies can expect to learn through the diagnostic will be presented. For more information on the EFC or to attend the AGM, email [email protected] to book your seat.