Motion plugs in, turns on at High Point Market
Power reclining mechanisms seen as must-haves
Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, April 24, 2012
The Norfolk recliner from Mac Motion Chairs features an adjustable air bladder in the back of the chair that provides lumbar support.
With retailers now displaying as many as two-thirds of their motion frames with power mechanisms, exhibitors say it's essential to make power widely available throughout their product lines.
"The power mechanism is changing the face of the whole category," said Penny Eudy, upholstery product manager at La-Z-Boy. "It's definitely here to stay."
Flexsteel is making the same point by stringing real power lines across portions of its showroom, and adorning two showroom walls with murals of transmission line towers.
And Catnapper, the motion furniture brand from Jackson Furniture, has developed a kiosk for stores that demonstrates the ease of using power mechanisms.
"Our power program has been a huge success," said Anthony Teague, Jackson's senior vice president of sales and merchandising. "And I don't see that going away."
Executives say power mechanisms resonate with consumers accustomed to power seats and power windows in their cars, and also are a hit with older baby boomers that may have difficulty opening and closing standard mechanisms.
At market, several exhibitors are unveiling second-generation power mechanisms they believe will further increase their penetration on retail floors.
La-Z-Boy, for example, is introducing a mechanism that also adjusts the headrest and provides lumbar support, while Palliser has a power mechanism that allows the chair to rock and swivel.
"It has been the hit of the market," said Cary Benson, Palliser's president of sales and marketing, said of the new mechanism. Initially, it is available on four recliners, and also is battery powered, which eliminates the need to place the furniture near an electrical outlet.
The battery will last about a month and can be easily removed and recharged, Benson said.
"The battery pack has been very successful, and we're making it available on all of our recliners," he said.
For consumers who like to sleep while reclining, several producers have developed seats that recline a full 180 degrees to the so-called lay-flat position.
Franklin, for example, has incorporated no fewer than three lay-flat seats in its new Matrix sectional, and Catnapper has a new lay-flat recliner featuring gel-infused foam in the seat cushion.
In addition, Mac Motion Chairs is introducing a contemporary reclining chair that lies flat when used with a matching ottoman that can be raised to the same level as the chair.
The new entry also features an air bladder in the back of the chair that can be adjusted to provide varying levels of lumbar support.
Mac Motion Chairs President Butch McCracken said the dual air bladders, which are controlled by a button on the side of the chair, come from the same company that supplies a similar product for Mercedes-Benz and BMW automobile seats.
"This has had a very positive reception," McCracken said. "It gives a whole new perspective to the reclining chair market."
Home theater seating also remains popular in motion furniture showrooms, with Lane's new Dream Machine seating group heading the popularity list. The new group has a reclining seat on each end of the unit, and a loveseat in the middle that contains a queen-size sleeper mattress.
"This is all part of the fusion of home theater and motion," said Bo Morrison, Lane's director of home theater merchandising. "The reaction has been tremendous."
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