Attic Living’s manager Jo Chong told CNA: “We have chosen to have most of our production completed in Malaysia … it allows for accessible quality checks on a regular basis and cuts down on the overall lead time as the furniture is shipped in regularly to our local warehouse.”
She added that as temporary measures for customers, the firm has offered to loan their furniture pieces. Customers also have the option of changing the items to another if there is available stock, with no top-up fees.
A Singaporean customer, who only wanted to be known only as Sue, told CNA that she purchased a coffee table from a retailer in May but has yet to receive it.
“They informed me it would be delivered in June but then received updates that there was a delay due to factories closure in Malaysia,” said Sue.
“I have considered cancelling my order and asking for a refund because I have been kept waiting. I’ve given them until the end of this month (September) to deliver it,” she added.
OPTIMISM AS VACCINATION RATES INCREASE
In spite of the issues, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
A month ago, the federal government announced that economic sectors, including furniture production, could resume with the operating capacities dependent on the vaccination rate of the workers in these facilities.
For workplaces where 80 per cent to 100 per cent of workers are fully vaccinated, operations are allowed to resume fully.
Operations are allowed to resume at 80 per cent capacity for workplaces where 60 per cent to 79 per cent of workers are inoculated. As for sectors where 40 per cent to 59 per cent of workers are fully vaccinated, operations are only allowed to resume at 60 per cent capacity.
Moreover, furniture retail shops were among the 11 types of economic activities allowed to resume operations. But business owners must ensure that customers show proof that they have been fully vaccinated before entering the stores.
There is optimism that the furniture business would resume to its original levels in the coming months, as more retailers and factories are able to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated.
According to Ng of the furniture association, around 80 per cent of factories and 50 per cent of retailers have resumed work as of mid-September.
“Companies are allowed to resume while adhering to the prevailing SOPs and this number is expected to increase in the future with vaccination rates increasing. Hopefully soon, orders between Singapore and Johor will be able to resume without delays,” said Ng.
Mi Kuang furniture’s Fong said he is also confident his firm can ramp up deliveries to Singapore soon, as the vaccination rate in Johor has increased recently.
Currently, more than 60 per cent of the adult population in Johor have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state government is aiming to have 100 per cent of its adult population fully vaccinated by the end of October.
“We have seen how businesses have improved in areas with high vaccination rates, like Selangor recently. I’m hopeful that Johor will follow suit,” said Fong.
However, Ng maintained that in spite of this, some companies continue to face uncertainties and that production processes will still not return to pre-COVID-19 levels.
“Let’s say a factory resumes operations, but one worker, despite being vaccinated, tests positive for COVID-19. The entire factory will likely have to shut and the firm will not be able to meet its deadlines,” said Ng.
“This is the reality of operating during COVID-19,” he added.