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Better finishes, new sources sell casual dining

HIGH POINT - Casual dining sources here reported that having a little something extra to sell consumers helped them close the deal with retailers at market.
     At A-America, something extra meant improving finishes and adding value. At John Thomas, it was program adding six elegant tabletop looks to an existing custom program. At Cramco, a new Malaysian import program in various styles and prices helped the company gain traction.
     Dave Shock, national sales manager for Cramco, said the Malaysian promotional price dining program won lauds from retailers.
     That introduction included

Chintaly ImportsChintaly Imports did well at market with this Vera dining set with tempered glass top and unique bent glass legs, offset by chairs upholstered in a rich camel color regenerated leather.
27 wood dining groups with contemporary designs and tables with better veneer treatments. One Malaysian factory in the program is offering good quality promotional groups with the ability to mix four sets on a container, he said.
     Randy Graboski, vice president of sales and marketing at Chintaly Imports, said the company had good response at market to glass and steel dining groups.
     Among the better received were tables using starfire glass on top, a milky look with beveled edge, he said. Graboski said Chintaly continues to believe that contemporary looks are gaining at retail and now make up nearly half of all case goods unit sales in stores.
     At A-America, finishes continued to become more important because they create depth and texture to help add perceived value to sell pieces at retail, officials said.
     Some of the company's pieces featured looks more common on high-end furniture. For example, the Malobar Grove group features water specking, and the Telluride group has a rough-sawn, wire-brushed bitter chocolate finish.
     "The more women become involved in the process of what to buy, the more color becomes important," said Crystal Nguyen, A-America vice president of merchandising.
     Nguyen said the company is trying to add value within its price points. For instance, a medium-priced product features a better finish to deliver an upper-end look, but stays within its price point.
     A big hit for A-America was the Kenosha dining program, a seven-table American oak design with mix and match chairs, she said. Also popular was Telluride, a rustic Arts & Crafts look with a chocolate finish and a sideboard with disco-fleck granite on top inset panels.
     The company also continues to get credit for a Parson's chair seating program that goes a step above Pirelli webbing and offers No-Sag seating with hand-tied knots, both of which help retain the shape of chairs longer, Nguyen said.
     At John Thomas, American Classics did well with retailers. The program offers six table top variations including a walnut burl shown at market. Crotch mahogany, bird's-eye maple and crackle finishes are among other tabletop options the company plans to offer, said Bryan Sprinkles, sales and marketing manager.
     Tables in the program sell for about $1,899 and are finished domestically. Upholstered seats also have domestic covers.
     John Thomas also did well with its Solstice introduction, with upholstered seats and wood detailing, starting at $799 retail for a five-piece group, Sprinkles said.
     At World Imports, three mix-and-match programs offering good, better and best stories did well at market, said Marc Luber, president.
     Probably the best received features 10 chairs with six fabric options and three tables, plus an additional two side pieces. Retail started at $499 on container-landed, five-piece dining groups in that program, Luber said.
     Jofran did well with a Vietnam mixing program allowing home entertainment and occasional with dining in the same container, said Joff Roy, president. A popular feature of the program is the minimum order amount of 460 cubes, or cubic feet of space in a container.
     Another well-received introduction was the No. 493 six-piece group with bench, which has a mixed container retail of about $699 and comes with cable draw, butterfly leaf storage, a chocolaty brown finish and fashion forward fabrics, Roy said.
     Bob Kelly, president of sales at Canadel, said retailers at market were eager to find solutions to improve their business, he said.
     "They want to listen and they want to try to implement things," Kelly said. He said the company did well with introductions including six chairs, seven case pieces and a new steel gray color in the Champlain Collection.

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