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Manufacturing town floors its rivals
( 2003-11-03 10:14) (China Daily)

The ancient waterside town of Nanxun is emerging as the country's biggest manufacturing base for wood flooring, according to a senior industry insider.

Gao Zhihua, vice-director of China Timber Circulation Association (CTCA), told China Daily the manufacturing base had developed rapidly during the previous two years thanks to the housing building boom nationwide.

More than 300 wood flooring manufacturers had set up shops in the town.

"But more should be done to make these businesses competitive," Gao said.

Most businesses in the town are small and have switched over from other sectors such as silk production.

"Mergers should occur to develop the industry in the town," said Gao.

The ancient town, with a population of only 110,000, produces about 30-40 per cent of China's current total wood flooring products.

It is also lobbying for inclusion on the World Heritage list.

"To be a competitive wood flooring manufacturing base, I think there should be at most 30 powerful firms after reshuffles in the coming years," said Gao.

CTCA statistics show that China now has more than 1,000 wood flooring manufacturers. And total sales last year topped 220 million square metres, up 20 per cent on the previous year.

Jiang Xunlin, president of the town's floorboard association, said the town, in China's booming Yangtze River delta, was well suited as a national base for the industry.

First, the town is in the economically-advanced Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu area.

"We are near the market, which is the driving force for the development of the industry here," said Jiang.

China's wood flooring industry has boomed since 1990 because of the dramatic growth in urban construction and increased expenditure by Chinese people on home renovation.

Second, the town is just 130 kilometres away from Shanghai port, where most of the timber is imported.

Ni Fangrong, board chairman of town's Shiyou Wood Products Company, said his company's top priority is to promote more environmentally friendly engineered hardwood flooring products in China. Ni's company produced 1.3 million square metres of wood flooding last year, which is about 1.5 per cent of the country's total output.

"I plan to increase our share to 2 per cent this year," said Ni.

This type of timber comes from fast-growing trees and is produced with advanced pressing techniques which are less wasteful.

Domestic firms began producing engineered wood flooring in 1995 using European technologies. These products now account for more than 85 per cent of the market share in China, with total sales of 120 million square metres last year.

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