Differently from most Brazilian companies, which are born turned to the domestic market and then start exporting, BRV, a small furniture industry in the city of Bento Gonçalves, in the interior of the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, took the opposite route.
The company first went onto the foreign market to discover what furniture distributors and retailers wanted, then defined its products and started production.
This is so true that it was only in the month of April this year, ten months after starting operations, that the factory started exploring the domestic market. Up to then, 100% of BRV sales were international.
Nowadays, 98% of production is still for the foreign market. “We develop our products based on what importers need,” stated company director Volnei Benini.
Buyers define from the raw material to the models, kinds of furniture, and colours. Although the company specialty is chipboard, furniture can be made out of solid wood, in case that is a market demand.
And with one detail: the target public for BRV are small importers. According to the company director, the factory was opened focussing on this sector, little explored by Brazilian factories.
The formula of selling custom made products to small distributors and retailers seems to be working out. Export to the Arab countries, for example, which represent between 8% and 10% company production, should double between April and May next year.
The company sells a total of four containers a month on the foreign market, generating revenues of between US$ 20,000 and US$ 25,000.
BRV, which has a total of 50 employees, has its own line of bookshelves, writing desks, wardrobes, racks, and fruit shelves. But, according to Benini, the company adapts its models if there is any need, and also produces any other kind of product under demand.
The company’s main foreign clients are in the United Kingdom, Spain, Chile, Panama, and South Africa, apart from the Arab countries.
The United Kingdom is the main buyer. Among the Arab countries, BRV has importers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Jordan.
Furniture for the Arabs
The Arab market was opened through participation in fairs and constant trips to the region. The BRV director visited the United Arab Emirates even before opening the company, while he was working for other furniture companies, in 2000.
After four years of relations with Arab importers, Benini has already learned to decipher the particularities of the region. “They like more traditional furniture,” he said.
Wardrobes, bedside tables and dressers are the most sold products in the region, according to the BRV director.
“The Arabs are always after novelties, and do not like to repeat purchases,” he said. Between November this year and January next, Benini should visit the region again, so as to meet his current customers and seek new buyers.
When he visited the Emirates for the first time, four years ago, the businessman knew very little about the region. “Nowadays, to me, going to Dubai is like going to Chile. I feel at home there,” he stated.