Carpet sellers roll out hub plan

Carpet sellers roll out hub plan
Amin Bagheri, Director, The Orientalist, Singapore.

SINGAPORE - The Handknotted Carpet Association plans to travel abroad with the help of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to promote Singapore as a hub for the Oriental carpets industry.

The move was mooted at the association's annual general meeting last Thursday and its members are hoping that it can be their magic carpet ride out of what has been a "gradual slowdown" in business.

Sales have apparently fallen by up to 40 per cent in the last 10 years, no thanks to the economic downturns, which have hit the pockets of the industry's affluent clientele here.

"We need to go out and promote our products with the help of the STB," said the association's newly elected president, Mr Edmund Rajendra.

"China is one of the destinations we spoke about, although we've also talked about (going to) Russia, Cambodia on roadshows."

Ubiquitous discount signs on the windows of carpet showrooms speak of recent changes in this age-old trade.

"Customers are now only comfortable with a carpet in the range of $2,500 to $5,000," said Mr Amin Bagheri, director of The Orientalist.

"About eight years ago, they could go up to $10,000 or $12,000 for one."

The second-generation owner relocated his business from Cuscaden Road to downtown Somerset in hopes of attracting a more diverse clientele and tourists. This is even though rent at his new 3,500 sq ft store is 40 per cent more.

Not all have that option.

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