Upholstery thriving on innovation at High Point Market
Cindy W. Hodnett -- Furniture Today, October 23, 2013
HIGH POINT — For upholstery suppliers, this week's High Point Market can be described as good, better and best.
In some showrooms, attendance and order writing are up a little. In others, the increase is a lot. But the unanimous opinion of company representatives interviewed thus far is that this is a vibrant market where innovation and design are center stage and driving orders.
Southwood Furniture is showing a 131-inch sofa at market, underscoring the company’s domestic manufacturing capabilities.
"Our showroom traffic is up substantially," said Rob Luce, president for Lazar Inds. "We have seen a 15-20% increase in traffic over last October and 32% over April. It's very strong."
One of Lazar's introductions is the Paragon Sleeper program. Luce said response to the no-loose-cushions sofa-sleeper has been "nothing short of amazing."
"There are larger programs with no buying limits for many companies, and they are looking for fresh, creative designs," he said. "We are known for fun, difficult design execution and we delivered big time this market. We are seeing a definite trend towards creative family-friendly contemporary design."
Southwood Furniture changed ownership in January and officials said the 40-year-old company has been updating inventory to provide additional options to retailers.
"We have had good traffic so far," said Vanessa Majma, president. "We introduced over 25 new pieces this market and they have been received well. We also updated our fabrics and added more than 120 for clients to select. The response to the new, fresh and relevant fabrics and product has been amazing."
"The buzz this market has been in not just talking about our versatility, but actually showing it," said Dan Minor, Southwood's chief operating officer. "We're showing updated reproduction pieces and some surprises in our inline upholstery, like the 131-inch sofa. Surprisingly, our reproduction product has seen the most reaction and replacement. We have been told time and time again that no one else is doing this and that there is still a demand for this style."
Acrylicore’s Paris chair is generating showroom traffic with a unique combination of rich velvet fabric paired with an acrylic frame.
Mike Delgatti, president of Hooker Upholstery, said traffic was up about 5% compared with last October as of Monday. Delgatti said several introductions provide a lot of customization options for retailers.
"At Bradington-Young, we've introduced a domestic leather program called So You! that allows a retailer to offer to the consumer the opportunity to create completely customized leather chairs, sofas and sectionals.... Retailers say they expect this program will allow them to increase GMROI, sales per square foot and customer satisfaction.
"At Sam Moore, we have displayed our new introductions in trend sections with corresponding mood boards that illustrate the style and color trends we are addressing with our introductions. The retailers and designers appreciate seeing introductions in the context of current trends."
Reporting an impressive increase in business at market is Sonny Cassady of Beckham Home/Cassady Closeouts, who set up a temporary showroom of sorts in the lobby of The High Point Plaza Hotel.
Genesis Artisan eschewed matching upholstery groups for eclectic style and says dealer response has been strong.
At the Michael Thomas showroom, response to a new upholstery group with metal frames was strong.
Massoud Furniture is showing a mix of on-trend colors and fabrics. Violet and tangerine leather ottomans complement a vintage-inspired linen look on a small-scale sofa.
"My traffic is up 300% because of my new location," Cassady said. "Order writing is up 300%. Our retailers like our Bed in the Box, which includes a twin headboard, storage ottoman, two bedside cubes and two accent pillows. The customers reacted very positively to our in-stock program of sofa/loveseat, cocktail table, two end tables, two lamps and four accessory items for $399, all in stock and ready to ship. Our new introduction of a teal sofa, loveseat and coordinating accent chair and ottoman has placed very well."
At InterHall, MacKenzie-Childs also reports good traffic.
"We're back for the first time since we showed in the '90s," said Mark Bergadon, the company's director of sales. "Our upholstery category has grown tremendously and expanded, and this is the market to introduce our line to furniture buyers and the design market. Inter-Hall has been very busy, and I think part of the appeal is that it's curated very well. We'll definitely be back for spring market."
Buyers are also making the trip down Main Street to visit Aria Designs.
"We relaunched the company a year ago after we decided that our biggest opportunity was in stationary upholstery and since then, we've been on a very fast track," said Richard Olmeda, executive vice president. "We have a domestic program and a direct container program, so we give dealers mixing options. We're a high-fashion house at mid- to mid-high pricing."
A Tiffany gift box-inspired color palette is attracting buyers to Sklar-Peppler/Alan White.
"We've been busier this market than in several years," said the company's Sheila Siegel. "We deal primarily with majors, and our sales have tripled from what they were a couple of years ago. I think it is part of the trend of people coming back to domestic."
Genesis Artisan reports a positive reaction to showing eclectic style in a promotional price range.
"After studying stores and showrooms, we decided to create value by creating an environment," said Mueller, executive vice president. "We added extra accent pieces like ottomans and settees in contrasting, complementary fabrics and we have a variety of frames and styles. We're taking chances at the promotional level to offer our retailers the looks seen at higher price points."
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