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July 12, 2011

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Furniture boss stands by 'Italy' label

A RETAILER of expensive furniture yesterday insisted that all the Italian brands it sold had been produced in Italy, despite claims it was manufactured in China.

At an exhibition in Beijing, Doris Phua, CEO of Shanghai-based DaVinci Furniture Ltd, said: "All what CCTV said was not the truth. All the Italian brands we sell are produced in Italy."

Nevertheless, the company may be facing a flood of demands for refunds and compensation as a result of a CCTV investigation which claimed that furniture sold by the company was exported to Italy and then imported so that it could qualify for import certificates.

The TV program said the furniture was produced in a plant in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, using high density boards rather than real wood.

A DaVinci outlet on Yan'an Road W. in Shanghai was inundated with customers' questions and complaints yesterday, by phone and in person.

Many said that the furniture they had bought from the company had quality problems. "I spent more than 2 million yuan (US$285,710) on furniture," said Miao Fushou. "After two years, quality problems arose. Even much cheaper furniture wouldn't have as many problems."

The company, however, said that the furniture was sold years ago, so it was not unusual that there would be some problems with it now.

The Shanghai Commission of Consumers' Rights and Interests Protection said that the company would have to issue full refunds and pay compensation if the CCTV report was true. "It violate consumers' rights severely if it used inferior materials instead of the superior material claimed, let alone forged the place of production," said Zhao Jiaoli, secretary general of the commission.

Under the consumers' rights protection law, if circumstances are deemed really serious the company could face losing its business license.

The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau yesterday inspected the company's warehouse in the city's Qingpu District. An initial evaluation showed that most of the furniture was made from high density boards rather than solid wood, it said.

The bureau has sealed all questioned products and would continue its investigation. So far, they have not required the company to suspend business.

Officials with DaVinci said it was not the first time they had been challenged on where its furniture was made but that they had learned to shrug off the criticism.


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