• Thomas Russell

Importer Folio 21 to debut

FolioHIGH POINT — Buyers at High Point's Premarket in two weeks will see the first products from Folio 21, a new company formed by three industry veterans to import case goods from Vietnam.

Bill Benton and Sean Slack, former executives at CR International and Powell Co., have teamed with Broyhill sales rep James Martin Jr. to form Folio 21.

They say their initial offering will include bedrooms with features and benefits that are aimed at younger consumers and others seeking a fresh and compelling value story. At Premarket, which runs Sept. 12- 13, the contemporary-leaning line will include five-piece sets are targeted to retail from $1,699 to $2,499, with the bulk of the groups at $1,699 to $1,999.

At Premarket and the Oct. 22-27 High Point Market, Folio 21 will show in about 12,000 square feet in the International Home Furnishings Center, space W-647. Corporate offices will be in High Point's Radio Building.

Product has already has arrived on the West Coast from Vietnam and is on its way to High Point, officials said. The initial launch will focus on bedroom, but the company also plans to offer correlating casual dining at the April market.

Benton, former president of CR International and president and CEO of Powell, is president and CEO of Folio 21. Slack is executive vice president of merchandising and product development, and Martin is vice president of major accounts.

Officials said they engaged in months of market research to prepare for the launch of the new company.

"We launched this company to address the void we've identified in the marketplace for quality features at affordable retails," Slack said in a statement. "Our target is retailers who are looking for the next level of product and our focus will be unique design and hip styling combined with all of the best construction standards, including full-extension side guides and English dovetailing. Our products emphasize high quality, multi-step finishing and unique veneers, which are not usually found in goods at this price level."

Benton said the company will have low overhead costs that will allow it to offer values that don't currently exist in the marketplace.

"We're coming to market with an edgier look aimed at younger consumers who have been proving indifferent to the me-too products that have characterized retail floors for the past few years," he said.

"The industry has been chasing cheap goods and we all know it's not working; the majority of average-unit-dollar sales are dropping while costs have continued to rise. Our goal is to give consumers a compelling reason to step up."

While Benton declined to say exactly how many groups the company will show in High Point, he indicated that there will be plenty for buyers to see.

"This is a very aggressive launch," he said, adding that the showroom "will be full."

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, FurnitureToday

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.

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