Koala Mattress Company Faces Backlash After Moving Manufacturing to China

October 12, 2020 Updated: October 13, 2020

Australian furniture retailer Koala, famous for its signature mattress and sustainability ethos, has faced backlash for moving the manufacturing of some of its products to China.

Koala is a Sydney-based company that found success by marketing itself to millennials through social media as an ethical and sustainable bedding option made in Australia.

Following the announcement, Australians took to the company’s Facebook page to complain about the decision. Many of the comments were questions about how Koala could remain environmentally sustainable or supportive of Australia once it moves manufacturing to China—which has been in the news recently over concerns that exploited Chinese labour may be used to build trains for Victoria.

One person, Melanie Martin, wrote: “What’s environmentally conscious about sending more freighters into the oceans or planes in the sky to deliver these products? I personally don’t give a toss where a product is designed; I care where it is made.”

Another person, Tina Walters, wrote: “With the current climate every business should be promoting Australian made products, but I guess your bottom line is more important than helping Aussie families keep their current jobs with your company and more about promoting slave labour with Chinese workers for more profits.”

Others questioned the decision to go to China instead of Taiwan, India, Bangladesh or Indonesia.

Responding to the backlash, the company wrote on Facebook: “We hear you, and understand.”

It wrote that it already sourced components from a global network of suppliers and manufacturers that it works with to bring its products to consumers across Australia and Japan and wanted to consolidate its manufacturing in more strategically supportive locations.

“Our rapid global growth has led to the decision to consolidate the manufacturing of a number of our products in more strategically supportive locations, creating synergies that will help to drive our continued growth across Asia Pacific,” it wrote on Facebook.

A spokesperson for Koala also told The Epoch Times on Oct.12  that it would be doubling its workforce this financial year, creating an estimated 120 new jobs in Australia.

The spokesperson did not confirm how it would maintain sustainability into its product after the China move, but said: “We remain committed to bringing the best products and experiences to our customers.”

Started in 2015, Koala established itself as a retailer of Australian-made furniture with a strong focus on sustainability. It also became known for its competitive pricing, four hour delivery time, and conservation work with koalas and sea turtles.

It is now worth about $500 million and has expanded its product base include bed bases, linen, desks, and lounges. However, only two of its products, the mattresses and the desks, were made in Australia.

According to News Corp’s The Australian, the company deregistered itself last year from using the Australian Made trademark.