Michael Tome Business Reporter
HOME and office furniture maker, Online Furnitures, a South Africa company, intends to grow its footprint in Zimbabwe amid growing demand for its products in the country.
The company, owned by a Zimbabwean, said its decision to move into the country was driven by the huge number of locals buying furniture from its South African shops.
Online Furnitures thus decided to set up a factory and showrooms in the country to lessen the burden associated with buying furniture across the border in South Africa.
Trish Chideme, the firm’s managing director, said Zimbabwe had always been a target for expanding the business, particularly considering the availability of raw materials in the country, which is a position of advantage on the manufacturing side.
Since launching in Zimbabwe, the firm registered impressive volume uptake in the local market, with customers acquiring the products in cash compared to the South African market where purchases are mostly through instalments.
“Our company has been supplying Zimbabwe clientele for a while now, but you know the hassles and transport costs associated with travelling especially across borders, that is what we reflected on, that how many clients we were losing because of inability to cross the border to South Africa, that is why we decided to set shop here,” said Mrs Chideme.
In contrast to the misrepresentation of the economic situation in the country beyond the borders, Mrs Chideme said she was surprised at the volumes they had managed to push since establishing shop in the country.
“We are actually shocked because there are stories about the Zimbabwean economy but we have had a totally different situation on the ground. At first we were wondering who will be buying our products, but on the ground, we are starting to realise that business is actually surviving as we are managing to stay afloat, paying rentals and employees.
“Zimbabwe has a very good market for our products in terms of sales because Zimbabweans pay in cash upfront compared to the South African market where purchases were mainly through instalments, although in South Africa we have a bigger catalogue,” she said.
Online Furnitures (South Africa) has been running since 2017 and the Zimbabwe operations of the company were established early 2021.
Presently, the company has established a showroom in the Harare central business district and a factory in the Southerton industrial area.
The company specialises in the manufacturing of domestic furnishings encompassing couches, lounge suites, beds, dining sets, and television stands.
Going forward, Online Furnitures indicated that it intends to grow its network in the country, citing the availability of raw materials.
“We are looking forward to having bigger workshops, adding more workers, more machinery and increasing our product range to fulfil our catalogue offerings,” she said.