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  • Clint Engel

Retailers excited in Vegas

Primo International didPrimo International did well at the Las Vegas Market with a line of new sports-themed upholstery.
LAS VEGAS - Furniture exhibitors at the Las Vegas Market offered mixed reports on traffic, but reported an increase in excited dealers in the buying mood.
     While price remains an important driver at retail, this market wasn't all about price, as suppliers said retailers had an appetite for fresh designs and features, smaller scale and eclectic looks.
     "Based on who we've seen so far, I would have to say we are up this market over last summer and even better, they are not just looking, they are placing orders in response to the programs we've introduced," said Len Burke, vice president of marketing for Klaussner.
     Many of Klaussner's customers here were reporting strong July business, and "We've also heard many say they think the second half will be good," he added.
     "Since we are very strong with retailers east of the Mississippi, this show is an important way for us to touch base with our growing base of West Coast dealers," Burke said.
     Mike Cohen, vice president of sales at Coaster, said traffic was up about 3% from summer a year ago. "The people here were buying, making it a very successful market," he said.
     Coaster received "tremendous" response to new programs, he said, including an upholstery offering featuring feather down seating that retailers can offer at promotional prices - sofas for $599 direct or $699 out of the warehouse - and an expansive accessories wall presentation that encourages retailers to take advantage of their wall space to build tickets and gross margin return on inventory.
     Coaster's new bedroom and dining room programs were equally successful, including four-piece bedrooms that can retail for as low at $599 and up to $1,999 for "tastier" design- intensive looks, he said.
     Matthew Briggs, CEO of Four Hands, described traffic as "a little thinner than last time," but said customers visiting his showroom were writing orders. "We have a customer base whose appetite for our design-intensive products is as strong as ever."
     In terms of business, Briggs said that none of his customers are screaming that it is great. His sense is that among the retail community, "the bigger lifestyle stores continue to do well."
     John DeFalco, executive vice president of case goods, bedding and upholstery importer Primo International, said during the show that traffic was good for a summer market, about flat with this past summer if not up a few points.
     "Dealers are shopping earlier than in the past so it's a little more spread out," he said. "We've seen a lot of great retailers and we've written orders and taken hard commitments from dealers."
     Among Primo's hits this time was a new bonded leather motion offering dealers can retail for $499 at a full markup, he said. Many retailers also jumped at the company's new Kathy Ireland Designs by Chef Andre mattress collection, featuring Primo's trademarked IncrediFoam, a new synthetic latex.
     And the company got "big time" response from its new sports-themed upholstery - recliners, stationary upholstery, klik-klaks and futons featuring the names and logos of various NFL, NHL and MLB teams.
     "It's been a very good market," said Laurie Phillips, vice president of soft lines merchandising for AICO/Amini. "Tuesday was busier than Monday, and everyone is very upbeat.
     "The buyers' state-of-mind to look for something new and interesting is far more pervasive than it's been in the past. Eclectic has to be in everyone's plan for growth, and you have to present a commercial way of selling eclectic to the buyer."
Primo International hitPrimo International hit the mark with its new Kathy Ireland Designs by Chef Andre mattress collection, featuring IncrediFoam synthetic latex.

     AICO President Martin Ploy added retailers were enthusiastically buying both from its standing lines as well as the wide array of new home furnishings, including nine new living room offerings in its Mia Bella leather collection and five new collections of bedroom, dining room and occasional furniture.
     The latter, Ploy said, was a preview of smaller-scale furniture coming from AICO "that doesn't sacrifice the luxury that is synonymous with Michael Amini."
     Magnussen Home received strong response to an upholstery collection debuted at the Las Vegas Market, President Nathan Cressman said.
     "We're partnering with Michael Nichols Design and marrying every upholstery product to our tables," Cressman said. "This allows our upholstery to be mixed, and I can't underestimate the importance of this capability. It's a powerful tool, and I feel it will give us a niche in upholstery."
     He added that attendance in Magnussen's showroom "was up quite a bit on Monday, and moderately up on Tuesday."
     "Our first and second quarters have been good," Cressman said. "And at market, we've been so busy, it's been hard to get all our orders in."
     John Conrad, vice president of Bombay Merchandising at Powell Co., said an energized sales staff helped drive traffic at the show here. Having a lot to offer - specifically a big introduction in Bombay - was also a big driver in getting traffic to the showroom, he said.
     Jason Phillips, vice president and creative director at the Phillips Collection, said the market brings a good portion design savvy West Coast customers open to contemporary designs.
     "Most customers are familiar with our line. That's not the case at all markets," Phillips said. "Buyers are getting more brave about being different. We're becoming a more important resource to a more diverse group of customers."
     He added that Las Vegas drew a good amount of Latin American and Canadian customers.

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