Japanese trader, pal target start-up families in Cebu

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He came to visit a friend and enjoy the sights of Cebu last year. But Japanese businessman Shobuo Muroi ended his trip by making his friend, Erick Casuga, a partner in expanding his business selling premium surplus Japanese furniture in Cebu.

The firm Loersh Trading Corp. was born after Casuga accepted Muroi’s offer to set up the firm after a tour of the sights in Cebu last year.

“I toured him around Cebu and later he proposed for  business partnership after seeing the opportunity of selling high quality furniture from Japan that will cater especially to those start up families,” said Casuga, a former employee of the Department of Health.

Muroi saw a better opportunities with the real estate boom in Cebu to expand his second-hand Japanese furniture business here.

Casuga said the Cebu branch was a forward integration related to the mother company based in Japan.

Casuga said Muroi handled the P2.5 million initial investment for the business.

They also found space for the shop at S.B. Cabahug Street, Ibabao-Estancia, Mandaue City and hired two employees.

“We only saw this space here and we opened in June last year,” said Casuga.

He said he only hired two people for now to help him run the shop to manage his operations cost.

He outsourced the bookkeepers and accountants to handle the firm’s books.

Loersh Trading’s shop now sells dining tables and chairs, bed, cabinets, sofa chairs, center tables, barber’s chair, some antique cabinets and dining wares.

“These are second-hand furniture that are slightly used which my partner buys from families in Japan that are changing their furniture sets,” said Casuga.

Casuga assured that the quality of their products were comparable to those export quality products seen in malls

“You can buy a sofa chair at only P5,000 here which is of high quality comparable to the brand new ones that you see sold in malls. but the prices there are higher maybe double the price of what we have here,” said Casuga.

The firm’s most expensive product is an antique cabinet that costs P28,000.

All of his dining tables and chairs are made of solid hardwood that makes it really sturdy comparable to those made of narra or mahogany wood sold here.

“I have here a dining set of four chairs that I can sell at P10,000 with delivery,” said Casuga.

He also sells authentic Japanese ceramics and kitchenware like plates, saucers, cups, bowls and chopsticks at very affordable prices from P20 each to P150.

Casuga said customers could also negotiate for discounts on the prices of some of the firm’s products.

“I can assure them of the quality of our products here even if these are surplus,” said Casuga.

For now however, Casuga only accepts cash payments since he is still processing for a credit card payment system.

“I can however bend some payment schemes for our buyers up to one month. They can pay in partial just so that the product won’t be sold to others and then pay in full once they get the product,” said Casuga.

After a year of operation, Casuga said that the shop was slowly picking up on sales with an average selling rate of one whole 40 footer container full of furniture sold within two months.

Casuga said he and his partner planned to expand their reach by opening branches in Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Manila.

“We’re currently looking out for available space in these areas where we can setup our branches because there is also a large market in these areas,” said Casuga.

Casuga said the growth of the real estate market especially in the residential segment would fuel the growth of companies selling products that would be needed at home like the pieces of furniture.

“For us selling second-hand surplus products from Japan, we also get to enjoy the same boom because there will always be families who prefer buying second hand products to save on costs,” said Casuga.

In Cebu, the partners are looking for a bigger place to set up their shop. They prefer an area which will give more access, visibility and convenience to customers.

“Maybe a space along the major roads like the highway will be much preferred so that people can see us and visit us. We have a lot to offer them here,” said Casuga.

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