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Sourcing Guide for Sofas
22/01/2009
By: Seth Berman

Over the years, furniture manufacturing moved from North Carolina, Italy, and various areas where labor was considered “affordable”.  Now furniture has found its home in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.  GoodFactories has gone ahead and is starting to examine what this means to buyers, by publishing free pricing guides.  Our goal is to get a current glimpse of pricing for popular types of products.

This month we focused on Sofas.  Our team has been visiting some factories and also contacted some suppliers outside of China, getting an overview on the current pricing smaller retailers can expect to pay.

Pricing Guide:

73” Wide Full Leather Sofa
Material:  Leather (3 prices below)
Dimensions: 73”w X 35”d X 29”h
Seating: 60”w X 23”d
Seat Height: 21”
Arm Height: 25”
Feet: Wood
Cubic Feet: 49.8
Price (Leather Match):  $235
Price (Full Top Grain):  $365
Price (Full Semi-aniline):  $406  (as shown, semi-aniline has a slightly shiny/waxy finish, different pattern, and is more expensive)
***(Add a sleeper bed): $100 to the existing price

86” Wide 3 Seat Fabric Sofa
Material:  Fabric
Dimensions: 86”w X 34”d X 27”h
Seating: 80”w X 20”d
Seat Height: 19”
Arm Height: 27”
Feet: Metal with Chrome Finish
Cubic Feet: 53.1
Price: $159

Three Piece Corner Sectional
Material:  Fabric
Dimensions: 113”w X 113”d X 32”h  (depth for each section = 43”)
Seat Height: 21”
Arm Height: 25”
Feet: Wood
Cubic Feet: 164.7
Price: $372

Leather Theater Seating (3 reclining seats)
Material:  Leather
Dimensions: 112”w X 36.5”d X 39”h
Seat Height: 20”
Arm Height: 25”
Feet: Wood
Cubic Feet: 104.1
Price (Leather Match): $465
Price (Top Grain + Split Leather): $499

Three Seat Reclining Sofa
Material:  Leather
Dimensions: 85”w X 42”d X 40”h
Seating : 69”w X 19”d X 20”h
Seat Height: 20”
Arm Height: 25”
Feet: Wood
Cubic Feet: 93
Price (Leather Match): $270
Price (Top Grain + Split Leather): $340

Some key points: 

A variety of sofas and recliners were chosen.  Prices will vary greatly by factory.  Leathers quoted are noted in the quotes, but large price swings will be encountered due to the many varieties and quality levels of leather.  A quality manager mentioned that they had to learn over 50 different types of leather, not to mention that these all come in a variety of colors.

Prices are dramatically affected by small variations in the product design.  Some popular variations are removable seat cushions vs. fixed seats, type of foam in the cushions, and leather vs. leather match.

Prices mentioned below are based on a full 40-foot mixed container, with up to 5 skus in the container.

All prices are FOB local port nearest the factory.  That means that on top of the price you see, you will need to pay for shipping.  We will deal with estimated shipping costs and duty rates later.

Quality Level:  Prices for this report are “value oriented”.  This means that these are NOT high-end manufacturers.  The pricing we got is from manufacturers who ship major furniture stores and wholesale companies, and their products do look great and are acceptable for most retail stores.  If you own a high-end retail shop, you can contact GoodFactories via online chat or email, and we will let you know some suppliers that match your needs better.

Some key terms: 

Top Grain Leather is a standard term for high quality leather that should last a long time.  Price does matter, but there are many different quality levels of top grain leather.  The higher the quality of the leather, the fewer the imperfections.  Standard top grain leathers can be found at most “value furniture stores” such as Ashley Furniture, Rooms to Go, and American Furniture Warehouse.   Top grain leather literally refers to the fact that hides need to be split for use in upholstery.  The top grain is the outside, and the inside is called split leather.

Full Top Grain means that the sofa is 100% natural top grain leather.

Leather Match combines Top Grain Leather with PU (vinyl faux leather).  The color and pattern are extremely close, so that it is very difficult to tell the difference.  PU is significantly cheaper than top grain leather but does not last as long as top grain leather, so most retail and wholesale companies who use PU do prefer to use top grain for the seating, cushions, and arm rests.   This helps ensure a better feeling and longer- lasting sofa.

Split Leather is a lower-grade leather that is used on non-active parts of the sofa to lower cost, but it still qualifies as a 100% leather sofa.

Since fabrics vary so much, such as micro fibers and exotic patterns, we decided to use a lower cost average material of around $2.50 per meter. 

We are not specific with the cushion type, due to factories’ preferences and price swings.  Normally, polyfoam is the cushion of choice, but some suppliers we visited added springs to the bottom cushion, and back fill materials tended to be synthetic.

The Final Price

Above are some basic costs that seem great, but one of the problems with sofas is the size of the cartons.  To help find out if it is really worth “going direct”, all factors need to be taken into account.

Shipping:  $1.60 per cubic foot to Los Angeles area.  This cost includes all shipping fees, port fees, and local trucking fees in the states.  Costs can change quite a bit depending on the freight company used and the logistics agent, but $1.60 is a decent ballpark figure.
Duty:  Duty can vary by material and country, but at this point shipping most types of sofa from China to the USA has no duty.

Local office:  GoodFactories suggests that a local agent or employee be used to ensure your quality standards.  But in this report, it is not being considered a direct cost.  Once you feel confident in a supplier, you may choose not to have a local representative.  GoodFactories offers an inspection service, based on a low set fee, which allows a supplier to buy directly from the factory.

Actual cubic feet:  If you are buying directly to your warehouse, a sofa can be packaged to save cubic feet.  For the prices below, it is estimated that a 15% space savings can be achieved (real space savings can exceed 10%, depending on the design).  If shipping to a warehouse to redistribute, then increase the cubic feet, so that the packaging supplied by the manufacturer can be reused.  Also, a good idea to enquire about is a “knock-down option” which requires a small amount of assembly at the retail store.

New Prices including freight:
73” Wide Full Sleeper Sofa = $301
86” Wide 3 Seat Fabric Sofa = $232
Three Piece Corner Sectional = $595
Leather Theater Seating (3 reclining seats) (Leather Match) = $607
Three Seat Reclining Sofa = $396

One may be surprised to know that if your process is efficient, sofas can still be manufactured in the States at competitive prices.  Ashley and American Signature both still manufacture in the US.

Warranty Information:  Many manufacturers will offer a 1-year warranty on the cushions, and possibly longer on the frame and reclining mechanism.  Some better ones will offer longer warrantees up to 5 years.

Special thanks for helping quote and research this project goes to: Haining Oyi May, Haining New Hongyang, Mihao Furniture, Zuoyou Furniture, Baotian Furniture, and Shanghai Chouqin Furniture Co.

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73 inch Wide Full Leather Sofa
86 inch Wide 3 Seat Fabric Sofa
Three Piece Corner Sectional
Leather Theater Seating (3 reclining seats)
Three Seat Reclining Sofa
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