TOR – Consultancy to conduct an audit of the Barbados Furniture Sector



TITLE: Consultancy to conduct an audit of the Barbados Furniture Sector


The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) commenced operations on December 1, 1992, to develop Barbados’ industrial, export, and other related activities. The BIDC is currently undergoing a strategic pivot to restructure Barbados’ manufacturing industrial landscape, centered around three (3) key pillars.  These pillars are the ocean economy, bio economy and design economy. As an agency of the Barbados Government, our mandate is to contribute to the diversification and growth of the economy through new investment, increased exports and employment creation by fostering the development of competitive business enterprises, under the three (3) pillars.

BIDC is a solutions-oriented organisation that amplifies bold, innovative, dynamic and creative enterprises.  As part of its efforts to identify market opportunities for local businesses, BIDC conducts research on behalf of Barbadian manufacturing and services companies to assist them in reaching sound decisions on how best to deliver products/services to the market. 

To this end, we wish to engage the services of a consultant who will conduct the necessary investigations and provide all information required on the Furniture sector and its operation in Barbados.


Three decades ago, the wooden furniture industry in Barbados was a key supplier of foreign exchange and a significant contributor to the island’s growing economy in terms of employment and output.  At that time, the sector generated over BDS $10.0 million in foreign exchange, provided over 1,000 jobs, and made a valuable contribution to the level of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  However, the protectionist policies and the market-shifting effects of globalisation marked the beginning of a downward slump for the Barbadian furniture industry. 

Throughout the years, there has been a declining demand for locally-produced furniture due in part to increasing production costs which constrains the ability of local producers to compete with lower-priced imported items and increased competition from external suppliers.  Changing consumer demands coupled with the challenges of exporting have not aided the efforts of local producers to improve their fortunes and viability.

Today the industry is a mere shadow of itself, with foreign exchange earnings in the past four years (2018-2021) averaging BDS $0.693 M. While imports for furniture and products over the same period averaged BDS $44 M.  Further, employment within the sector has reduced dramatically.  Most of the remaining companies were forced to downsize their operations as demand for traditional products declined.  To maintain profitability, producers have implemented a seasonal approach to labour retention.  As a result, most firms are classified as small enterprises employing less than 25 full-time persons. 

It remains doubtful if the local industry will ever effectively compete with imports.  However, it is possible to position the local industry as the producer of high-value niche furniture products that are globally competitive based on quality, reliability and/or differentiated designs.  This move requires a concerted effort from the public and private sector to develop initiatives that address the challenges that constrain the industry from achieving potential growth levels and significantly raise the levels of competitiveness.


The BIDC supports and promotes the Furniture Sector and works with several partners and organisations across Barbados.  In its efforts to provide an enabling environment for the sector to thrive, the BIDC engaged in several interventions over the years:

  • Advocacy 
  • Technical assistance
  • Design assistance and consultations
  • Training and technical consultancies
  • Support to trade and exposure missions
  • Marketing support
  • Developing partnerships and infrastructure

Despite the support the furniture sector has received, it faces multiple challenges further exacerbated by the pandemic that impacts its growth and sustainability.  While a shadow of its former prominence, the furniture sector still possesses growth and development potential.  Therefore, it is the objective of the Corporation to establish a revitalisation strategy for the furniture sector. 

In this regard, we undertook several initial stakeholder engagements to inform this process.  However, we recognised that there are gaps in data.  It is impracticable to be effective given the current understanding of the sector.  The success of any intervention relies on a thorough knowledge of the sector’s competitive advantages, capabilities or potentialities.   Therefore, a comprehensive audit would add to the already curated body of knowledge and present a complete picture to stakeholders on achieving the sector’s vision.  


The BIDC is seeking the services of a consultant whose primary goal will be to design, collect, analyse and report efficient and accurate data on the local Furniture sector. 

Specific Activities 

The consultant is expected to complete the following activities: 

Conduct an audit on the (formal & informal) local furniture sector inclusive of: 

  • Demographics 
  • Economic Indicator Data
    1. Levels of sales, exports, other income streams, and employment levels.
  • Needs Assessment 
    1. Workforce Skill levels and deficits
    2. Machinery
    3. Technology
    4. Markets
  • Business Elements 
    1. Product mix 
    2. Processes
    3. Client base
    4. Production Capacity & Constraints
    5. Method of receiving payment
    6. Operating models 
  • Product Diversification
    1. Attitude/Potential to diversify product (Are you willing to diversify products)
  • Shared Use Arrangement
    1. Attitude to sharing machinery & equipment
    2. Attitude towards participating within a cluster arrangement


This study should generate the following three (3) outcomes:

  1. The development of a database of stakeholders in the sector, including a register of producers based on the collation of existing and new data generated by the project.
  2. The development of a profile of the Furniture sector in Barbados, highlighting its scope, size, structure, capacity.
  3. Benchmark economic indicator data for the sector, based on a representative sample of a cross-section of these businesses.  It should consist of sales levels, exports, other income streams, qualifications, and employment levels.


The successful consultant is expected to deliver:

  • a proposal outlining the methodology, timelines and cost of the study
  • an interim report indicating the outcome of the data collection process and preliminary data
  • a final report covering the entire research and providing the outcomes’ information.


The tender is open for submissions from March 30, 2022 to April 15, 2022

The BIDC proposes that the data capture be conducted during the period May – June 2022 and the final report be delivered by July 15, 2022.

To facilitate the evaluation of submissions, the selection and appointment of a consultant, the deadline for submitting proposals is on or before April 15, 2022.


The consultant should submit the final report in both electronic and hard copy format by July 15 2022.  At the time of submission, the consultant should also provide any outstanding data/information requested during the research project.


25% Mobilisation fee
25% Completion and submission of preliminary report
25% Submission of the Final Report
25% Review meeting


  • Your submission should demonstrate appropriate experience in market research related to the furniture sector and/or related sectors.  It must also show that you have the proper resources to meet the requirements outlined.
  • As part of your submission, you should provide a total cost in Barbados Dollars of meeting all aspects of this research project. 
  • We do prefer to make payments solely to the selected consultant.


  • Expressions of interest should be submitted with an outline Plan indicating how you propose to undertake the scope of work and accompanied by a Curriculum Vitae.  Candidates should submit proposals to on or before April 15, 2022, at 4:00 PM.
  • Applicants are asked to contact the Design Unit – Innovation, Research & Development Division at 427-5350 for further information or clarification with respect to submissions. 
  • BIDC does not bind itself to accept the lowest or any tender.