Entertainment walls on rise at High Point Market
Heath E. Combs -- Furniture Today, October 21, 2013
HIGH POINT - Wall units continue to gain ground in home entertainment this week at the High Point Market, especially if they offer piers and bridges to complete the look.
Market traffic is decent, suppliers report, adding that buyers continue to visit this market earlier.
They also report a growing need to tweak SKUs within groups to solve distribution issues - not necessarily a bad problem to have.
Consoles continue to drive the entertainment category. Walls are growing in opularity but are more often shown with piers or hutches - and those groups need to fit up to a 70-inch television.
Hooker furniture is getting a good response to this two-piece 5247 entertainment group.
At Legends, 62-inch models continue to be the bread and butter of console sales, according to Tim Donk, director of marketing and product development. That said, 72 inches and more is a growing area, while heights are popular at 34 inches-plus, he added.
Legends is having success this market with Restoration, a wall unit that fits up to a 70-inch television and comes in a rustic walnut color, with prominent knots and exposed joinery. The wall retails for about $1,799.
It has also been doing well with its recently introduced Ambiance gallery program, which was introduced in Las Vegas and offers five contemporary consoles with fireplace inserts.
West Port Home continues to see success with shallower-depth entertainment consoles, according to Gene Head, a marketing official with the company. That means pieces that are 14 to 15 inches deep, which Head said makes sense since flatter televisions need less space.
Retailers also like the company's telescoping back panel on consoles that provides a solution for concealing cable boxes in the thinner format.
Twin-Star International has been doing well here with its Enterprise group, which has a contemporary look, integrated sound bar, mobile docking station and Bluetooth wireless access. Also popular is its recently reengineered six-piece Delray wall - which now ships as a knock-down unit - for $999.
Marketing has been a growing focus. Twin-Star is rolling out more point-of-purchase marketing materials for dealers and recently began national advertising with ABC affiliates before and after college football games.
The company also has done more product placement on home-oriented television programs on channels like HGTV, produced more online videos and more recently, done placements in movies, according to Brian Brigham, director of marketing and public relations.
He added that the company is doing more consumer surveys and that while ambiance used to be one of the biggest factors driving fireplace purchasing, space heating is rapidly becoming one of the main drivers.
With more exhibit space in its larger showroom here, Magnussen Home says it's getting good response to entertainment furniture this market, which it added to some bedroom introductions and to round out whole home looks. The company offers several consoles and some wall units with bridge piers and fireplace units.
Hooker Furniture is getting some dealer requests to put consoles between larger bookcases in whole home collection - thus creating a grand scale pier and console look.
This week, Hooker is getting good reaction to its Grand Palais wall, with a $7,000 retail or a console hutch for about $4,000. Dealers like the group's marquetry, hand-detail work and Champagne tipping. The European traditional styled wall is 94 inches tall.
"The consumer in that price category is feeling more confident," said Hank Long, senior vice president of merchandising. "It still looks good in a 10-foot ceiling but it fits an eight foot."
Long also said it's still important to offer center sound bar cavities, since the quality of speakers in some flat screen televisions has been downgraded to keep prices competitive and sound bars become more affordable from retailers like Costco.
Sunny Designs is getting good reaction this week to its Savannah and Crosswinds collections, according to West Allen, vice president of merchandising.
Also getting a lot of attention is its Vintage White wall, Allen said. The group can be a console and hutch, or can be purchased as a wall. The piers can come as either a unit with bar storage and pull-down tray or as traditional piers.
The piers sit on top of console-height side cabinets. Those side cabinets allow the console to look more like the 70-inch-plus units gaining in popularity, but are easier to ship, he said. Allen said consoles between 52 and 62 inches continue to be the most popular.
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