Martin Furniture leans into Mexico as market becomes uncertain

SAN DIEGO – With falling consumer demand and increasing lead times, office and entertainment furniture maker Martin Furniture is leaning more and more into Mexico.

“We’ve worked to adjust our product mix to include more production from our Mexico plant with both development of new products and bringing production of some of our bestselling collections here,” said founder Gil Martin. “Increasingly long lead times on Asia imports has made it harder to react quickly to changing demand.”

The 40-year-old company has been making furniture in Mexico since 2002 when it relocated production from San Diego. It now sources 40% of its product from south of the border, with the remainder coming from Asia. “We feel fortunate that we have such a great resource close to home with our Mexico factory.”

Martin says he’s seeing a slowdown in demand but that it’s difficult to analyze exactly what’s going on.

“It’s erratic,” he said. “After Memorial Day sales, we have retailers in some parts of the country remarking they had excellent sales while others were slow. There’s too many variables going on right now to gauge the depth or length of a slowdown. But is there one? Yes.”

The company is adjusting its orders for components and materials, while planning to lower prices,  hopefully.

“Last year our lead times stretched to as long as nine months in Asia,” he said. “We’ve had all the goods we’ve been waiting so long for arrive in the past two to three months. We want to fulfill our backlog and base new orders on future demand.

“We are hopeful that as container rates stabilize we will be able to lower the surcharge that we were forced to implement on our import collections.”

He said the company is moving through its old inventory to make room for the items it launched at the spring High Point Market, but is being careful to have inventory on hand.

Overall, Martin doesn’t know whether to be optimistic or pessimistic.

“There’re so many long-lasting events happening around the world today that it’s difficult to forecast,” he said. “What will drive consumer’s needs and decisions on how to spend their money? Will it be on a new entertainment console for their latest 80-inch flat screen TV or for rent and gas?”

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