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July 14, 2011

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'Imported' furniture never left country, say officials

SOME expensive furniture that a retailer claimed was imported was made in China and never left the country, the Shanghai entry-exit inspection authority revealed yesterday.

It was further blow for Shanghai-based DaVinci Furniture Ltd following accusations that it had falsely claimed its goods were made in Italy.

However, DaVinci's CEO insisted at a press conference in Beijing that all the Italian-brands it sold were produced in Italy.

And, in tears, Doris Phua accused one of the Chinese manufacturers mentioned in a China Central Television investigation of copying DaVinci's furniture designs.

Officials with the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said they had found that some of the furniture DaVinci stocked was made in China and transported to the Waigaoqiao Bonded Zone before being stored in its Shanghai warehouse.

The bureau found that the company had gone through customs procedures for 15 cattlehide sofas produced by a Haining company in Zhejiang Province on June 23 at Waigaoqiao, and "imported" the sofas on the same day.

"Staying at the bonded zone for a day, the products changed from domestically produced ones to imported ones," said Zhou Guoliang, a bureau official.

The bureau is to inspect all 100 batches of products the company claimed to be imported through Shanghai.

Meanwhile, Phua, a Singapore native, told reporters in Beijing that all the products they sell bearing Italian brands, such as Cappelletti and Riva, were produced in Italy. Parts of furniture bearing US brands, such as Hollywood, could be produced in China as the companies cooperated with plants all over the world, including those in China, Vietnam and India.

Tino Cappelletti, owner of Cappelletti Furniture, said yesterday: "I come to China many times, and I'm sure all Cappelletti furniture displayed at DaVinci outlets is produced by us."

"We don't purchase material outside Italy," he added.

Earlier, the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau said the Cappelletti furniture at DaVinci's warehouse wasn't made of solid wood. But Cappelletti said the concept that the furniture had to be made of solid wood "was wrong."

"Made-in-Italy quality also means design, innovation, new materials and new invention," he said.

Phua, overcome with emotion, began to say how wronged she felt by the whole situation but she did admit the company had cooperated with some Chinese plants, including the Jinfenghuang and Changfeng factories in Guangdong Province mentioned in the CCTV program, but the furniture was not sold in DaVinci.

It was for the company's other brand, Fuledeng, but that brand was no longer in existence.

She said that the Changfeng plant had copied the design of the Cappelletti bed which featured in CCTV's program. "I trusted them as we were companions once, I even introduced some US companies to book their products," she said. "I was naive."


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