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Larry Thomas

Updates keep motion hot at Hight Point Market

New power mechanisms, quick ship popular

AT THE MARKET — Blend a heavy dose of power mechanisms with a fast-acting shipping program while adding a splash of color, and you have created the recipe for successful market in motion furniture showrooms.

Vendors say the vast majority of their product introductions are doing well here, although sectionals, console loveseats and just about anything with a power reclining mechanism appear to be leading the pack.

And they say it's no coincidence that their most popular intros are not necessarily the items with the lowest price - a power mechanism alone will add about $100 to the retail price. Instead, those that deliver the most value are the biggest winners.

"If it comes down to just price, we're not going to win," said Chuck Tidwell, vice president of merchandising and product development at Franklin. "People will pay more for a product that offers good value, if it makes sense for them."

And when it comes to motion furniture, value is taking many different forms at market.

Besides power mechanisms, enhancements such as iPod docks, improved foam cushioning, hidden storage units, cupholders with chiller units, built-in reading lights and articulating headrests are among the goodies available on a number of products - not to mention the fashion-forward cover choices that eschew the so-called "commercial" looks that often dominate motion displays.

"This is where motion needs to go if we're going to continue to grow the category," said Don Hunter, senior vice president of major accounts at Catnapper. "The low end commercial customer is out of the market."

Added Lee Fautsch, vice president of sales for home furnishings at Flexsteel, "The motion category continues to be the dominant category in terms of growth."

The fashion-forward elements also give many items the look of stationary upholstery, which executives say appeals to female consumers who are still skittish about having motion furniture in their homes.

"We want to provide the look of stationary and the comfort of motion," said Greg Morgan, merchandise manager for motion upholstery at Lane. "And the things we have done in this area have been very well received."

Among Lane's biggest new product hits are three motion groups with high-leg designs and optional power mechanisms. Catnapper, meanwhile, is enjoying success with a pair of sectionals that accommodate iPods and Bluetooth technology, while La-Z-Boy is receiving positive response to a new power mechanism that allows the back and the footrest to operate independently with a remote control unit.

The new La-Z-Boy mechanism initially is available on 10 recliner models - including four that are new this market - and may be expanded given the positive feedback it is receiving this week, said Paula Hoyas, vice president of upholstery merchandising.

"It has been a very exciting market for us," Hoyas said. "People love the new mechanism and all the point-of-purchase material that we have to go with it."

Klaussner also has a new power mechanism with an improved motor and a five-year warranty. It will be implemented throughout the company's motion line in the coming weeks.
Klaussner and La-Z-Boy are among a half-dozen vendors that also have major recliner rollouts at market.
Flexsteel has eight new recliners available with a leather-like fabric cover called Nuvo Leather, while Lane is introducing 16 domestically produced recliners retailing for $599 to $999.

Franklin, meanwhile, is showing new foam cushioning for its recliners that features a layer of memory foam blended with high-density foam that is chamber cut, while Klaussner is adding more than a dozen domestically produced recliners to a special order program.

The Klaussner effort promised 21-day delivery and allows the consumer to choose from among six mechanisms and dozens of covers. "We think there is still room on the sales floor for a recliner department," said Len Burke, vice president of marketing. "And we think our special order capabilities will be a very attractive option."

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