• Cindy W. Hodnett

Innovation, design drive upholstery in High Point

Lazar’s ParagonLazar’s Paragon Sleeper has a memory foam mattress and no loose cushions.
HIGH POINT - For upholstery suppliers, the fall High Point Market could be described as good, better and best.
     In some showrooms, attendance and order writing were up a little. In others, the increase was substantial. But the unanimous opinion was that innovation and design were center stage and driving orders at market.
   Natuzzi, Magnussen and Klaussner had significant introductions that underscored the importance of new forms, function and retail support. Natuzzi's Re-vive recliner has hundreds of patented parts, and the resulting product mix lived up to the "performance motion" description.
     At Klaussner Home Furnishings, the new Carolina Preserves collection designed with artist William Mangum was strong with retailers. The collection showcased Mangum's paint color palette in upholstery, as well as architectural influences in the case goods designs.
     "If there has ever been an artists' paradise, it's in North Carolina," Mangum said. "Everybody has a creative bent, and this is a line of case goods and upholstery that allows people to be artists in their own right."
     The Magnussen Home showroom was packed with dealers eager to see the company's new upholstery program. Officials said the initial introduction included 25 frames with the "features and benefits of a higher-end product."
     "We're very excited about the new product," said CEO Richard Magnussen. "Our vision and strategy has been to be whole-home, and we've got a very strong back-end of delivery. We feel if we have whole home we'll help our customers buy small quantities delivered quickly."
     Lazar Inds. introduced new upholstery as well as the Paragon Sleeper program. Company President Rob Luce said the response to the no-loose-cushions sofa-sleeper was "nothing short of amazing."
     "Our showroom traffic is up substantially," Luce said. "We have seen a 15-20% increase in traffic over last October and 32% over April. It's very strong."
     South wood Furniture changed ownership in January and officials said the 40-yearold 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."
     Mike Delgatti, president of Hooker Upholstery, said traffic was up about 10% from last October. Delgatti said several introductions provide a lot of customization options for retailers.
MagnussenMagnussen Home’s new upholstery program offers 25 frames, including this contemporary group in citrus fabric.

     "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."
     At Inter Hall, a new "old" exhibitor, MacKenzie-Childs, reported 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."
     J Henry showed in High Point for the first time after launching at the Tupelo Furniture Market in August.
     "Our attendance and order writing in High Point exceeded our expectations and we had great compliments on our showroom location," said Virgil Henry, a partner in the company. "Our visiting retailers said they are looking for $599 to $999 price points with better upscale looks in frames and fabrics with nice, fresh colors.
     "I think our furniture industry is looking at increases because consumers are looking for USA-made product, and it's growing because of quality-made products made by Americans," Henry said. "We wrote orders for customers in the U.S., Canada and the Middle East."
     Buyers also made 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 midto mid-high pricing."
      Genesis Artisan reported 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."
     Marshfield Furniture also returned to the High Point Market after an eight-year absence.
    "Our return to the market was very positive," said President Bill Mork. "We saw retailers we would not expect to see at Las Vegas. This exposure is our big take-home value from the High Point Market. We are working to visit the retailers who made their first visits to Marshfield at High Point, and establishing and growing business relationships with these new retailers will be the real measure of market success. I am very optimistic."

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