Economy, Business And Markets

The Darker Side of Chandeliers

The Darker Side of ChandeliersThe Darker Side of Chandeliers

Iranian producers have been manufacturing chandeliers for over half a century now and are well known throughout the world.

More than 80% of the raw materials required for the production of chandeliers are available inside the country.

The industry, however, has been suffering from recession in the past few years, which led to the closure of close to 25% of workshops producing chandeliers, the Persian daily Forsat-e Emrooz reported.

“To produce chandeliers, many professions come together, including turnery, bending, pressing, casting, plating and etching, to name a few. To date, all these processes have been carried out in a single production unit, but because of the increase in salary and insurance premiums, producers can no longer afford to work in this way,” said Hamid Nassiri, an official with the Union of Manufacturers and Sellers of Porcelain, Glass and Chandeliers.

“Therefore, the process has been divided and different units are in charge of only one part of the process.”

According to Nassiri, this has resulted in a decrease in both production and product quality.

“People’s purchasing power has fallen and chandeliers, being a “luxury” item used for decoration purpose only, are not a priority of families,” he said.

“Apart from the decline in demand, another reason for the decline in production is the high cost the process entails. Workers’ salaries, the 30% insurance fee and utility bills make up a sizable sum,” he said.

Other reasons for the current market recession, according to Nassiri, are unsatisfactory conditions of housing construction and the decline in marriage rates.

“Most of the products sold by shops throughout the country are domestically produced and some 20% to 30% of the products are imported from China. We have items from Italy, Czech Republic and Germany in the market as well, but they are very few,” he said.

According to the official, Iranian chandeliers are made of brass and copper for the most part, whereas the Chinese ones are made of iron but sold as steel.

“The strength of Iranian chandeliers is their high and reliable quality. These products have 3 to 7 years of guarantee. Their downside, however, is their unadorned designs,” he said.

Noting that more than 1,000 production units exist in the country, Nassiri said between 15% and 20% of these units have been shut down and the rest are operating at half their capacity due to unfavorable market conditions.

The official added that some 300 to 400 distinguished producers in the country produce very high-quality chandeliers.

“Their products,” he said, “are exported to many countries, notably to Italy and Germany, which happen to be in the frontline of the industry.

Although imports of the product are banned, yet chandelier parts are imported separately and are assembled into the final product.”

Nassiri said this interferes with domestic production.  

“When our own country can supply us with most of the required raw materials, including crystals, glass, nickel, brass, bronze, aluminum, and alloys, it is not reasonable to flood the market with low-quality imports,” he said.

Nassiri noted that the industry has a high capacity to employ skilled workers and can create numerous job opportunities.

“Currently, over 200,000 people earn their living in this way. What is missing here is government support,” he said.

Akbar Namaki, an old hand in the business, is very disappointed at the market conditions and says the recession set in three years ago and there is no hope for conditions to improve in the near future.

“In my own factory, we used to have night shifts up until few years ago. But later we were forced to downsize the business since production decreased by more than 30%,” he said.

Noting that earlier, his products were exported to 15 countries, including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, South Africa, Central Asia and the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, but at present exports have reduced to a minimum.

“One can even start a business in a small basement and with simple machinery, the initial capital for which would not amount to more than 500 million rials (close to $14,500 at the market exchange rate). But the outcome of a business on this scale would produce low quality products. For a larger business, a 3,000-square-meter plot of land with a capital of 30 to 40 billion rials ($870,000 to $1.2 million) is required,” he said.

According to Namaki, banking facilities are not granted to producers and so they are unable to expand their business or, in some cases, even keep it running.