At present, the municipality of Yecla is an important industrial heartland, whose main activity is focussed on wood and furniture sector. There are almost 500 companies dedicated to the manufacture of furniture and upholstery, and occasional furniture in wood and upholstery.
This industrial thrust is embedded in the entrepreneurial spirit of the people from Yecla, dating back to the XVII and XVIII centuries and allowing us to appreciate the presence of a large number of professionals, such as carpenters, foremen and coopers in Yecla, attached to the activities related to artisan woodwork and elaboration of other products related to wood. Likewise, during the XIX century, there was an increase in the number of mechanical sawmills and as a result the creation of chair and table workshops, whose commercialisation was carried out in the adjacent provinces. These workshops were the starting point of the industrialisation process in Yecla.
In the XX century, in the 20's, with the availability of more modern machines, the commencement of industries related to cabinetmaking was founded. Pedro Chinchilla Candela and Rafael Azorín Fernández were first to establish as cabinetmakers in Yecla and sell their products throughout Spain.
Other skilled workers and artisans followed, such as Francisco Azorín Tevar, Beltrán Puche Súcar, Tomás Pou Alonso, José Cano Candel or José Villanueva, on the whole, whose small family companies gave birth to the industrial base that holds the economic structure of the local economy nowadays. However, the first great crisis occurred in the XX century which ruined these small workshops with a certain degree of industrialisation. At that time, the archpriest from the town of Yecla, José Esteban Díaz, launched the workers' Cooperative "Cooperativa de Obrera de Muebles, Comed", which employed 150 workers from all the surrounding areas.
The economic hardship endured by the Cooperative led to the closure of this grand business project. Majority of the employees, who were made redundant, established for themselves and became entrepreneurs seeking solutions to the critical labour and economic downturn and as a result created their own furniture manufacture companies and some of which are still actively doing business and exhibiting at the Yecla Furniture Fair.
Mr. Edmundo Palop, Doctor in Fine Arts, says that inside the town's outer walls, we could find crème de la crème of Yecla's cabinetmakers and also the most decisive temperaments; however, because of different circumstances, the Cooperative encountered financial difficulties and suffered a downturn in the normal running of the factory, which led to the final closure.
The concerns of industrialists from Yecla allowed them to move ahead towards the consolidation of the local economy as it was centred on the furniture sector. Therefore, in 1961, it was decided to establish the Local Furniture Fair, situating it in the premises of the Piarists, the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools of Yecla (los Padres Escolapios de Yecla). In that Furniture Fair, there were 15 furniture factories, 2 upholstery workshops and one veneered- furniture manufacturer. The Furniture Fair was a great success in terms of visitors hence an immense satisfaction for the exhibitors.
In 1962, the Fair was renamed "Feria Provincial del Mueble e Industrias Afines", and at the same time achieved an official recognition. At that exhibition, there was a participation of 24 exhibitors and 700 square metres of space. Hence the Exhibition in Yecla was established as the first Furniture Fair in Spain, such circumstances led to the national market to appreciate the furniture and the upholstered furniture manufactured in the country.
The requirements made by the manufacturers for more space and the industrial growth of the business sector in Yecla consolidated the Fair and henceforth in 1968 the present-day exhibition building was built, which has gone through remodelling and enlargements. At present, the exhibition building occupies 17,000 square metres of space in which we can find a total of 130 exhibitors.
Yecla Furniture Fair has not been detached from the furniture sector instead it has been attached to the sector throughout its history, showing its capacity to adapt itself to the prevailing socioeconomic changes at national and international level. Furthermore, the industrialists have constantly given their staunch support to the Furniture Fair. Since its creation 42 years ago, the organisation of the annual Furniture Fair year after year is the best example at hand. On the other hand, in 1995 the business initiative led to the creation of the Business Consortium "el Consorcio Exportador de Muebles de la Región de Murcia, Conexmu", which has been an important pull with regard to the promotion and internationalisation of the Furniture Fair.
In each new Furniture Fair, exhibitors and professionals have been backed by the Regional and Local Authorities, therefore contributing to the consolidation of this municipality as a key industrial area with great relevance in the Autonomous Community of Murcia.