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New CEO of TCHFM ready to rebuild

Montreal - This will be Pierre Richard's first-ever Canadian Home Furnishings Market since he was named president and CEO of TCHFM and its owner and organizer, the Quebec Furniture Manufacturers Assn., this past October.
     He plans to spend most of the Jan. 11-14 event's four-day run in the halls of the International Centre talking and listening to attending retailers and exhibitors.
     This will be the 42nd annual TCHFM and remains the only national furniture industry event in Canada. The market has gotten smaller over the past few years and Richard acknowledges there's a lot of work to be done to make it more meaningful to both furniture and home furnishings resources and retailers.
     But the rebuilding effort will start from a surprisingly strong foundation, he says.
   According to the QFMA, which owns and operates the market, approximately 2,000 Canadian furniture stores attended the 2013 edition and some 6,000 people - including exhibitors, sales reps, retailers and designers - turned out for at least part of the event.
     "That was a decrease of approximately 5%," Richard said, noting that attendance at trade shows in general - both inside and outside of the furniture industry across North America - are trending downward.
     "However, TCHFM remains an extremely valuable event for the home furnishings trade," he maintained. "More than 95% of exhibitors are the company owners, which allows the attending buyers to make effective business transactions. Furthermore, over 700 businesses (including both exhibitors and stores) have been attending TCHFM for 10 years or more."
     For 2014, the show is "approximately 250 exhibitors this year, versus approximately 300 last year," Richard reported. "Again, the economic context is certainly not helping, but we will be welcoming a wide variety of exhibitors who will be showcasing new products and the latest trends in over 40 categories: from bedding to upholstery, dining room furniture to lighting and accessories."
     That will include about 46 exhibitors that are new or returning after being absent from the floor for a least a year. Of these, perhaps the most significant is Tempur-Canada, the Canadian division of specialty mattress producer Tempur-Pedic, which acquired bedding giant Sealy (and its Sealy Canada subsidiary) early in 2013.
     Richard also said the show has been reworked with a new floor plan designed to help exhibitors stage more effective product presentation.
     On the exhibitor front, the most noticeable absentee from 2013 are the divisions of the Bermex Group - including Jaymar, Bermex, Dinec, Mi-Di, Shermag and Bertanie. However, while not an "official" TCHFM exhibitor, the company will open a showroom, at least during market, in the space once occupied by Furniture Brands Canada at 80 Delta Park Blvd., a short drive north of the International Centre.
     Richard said his goal for this year's TCHFM is to hear from the industry about what they expect from the market and what they think should be done to make it better and more meaningful.
     He said that while the QFMA held a series of focus groups after the 2013 event, "the results were interesting but inconclusive."
     This is one of the reasons he's excited about the Town Hall meeting scheduled for Jan. 13 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in one of the Orion rooms in the International Centre ballroom. Every market attendee is invited to the meeting to voice their opinions about the future of the show.
     "We want to keep learning about people's thoughts and ideas in various ways, including the Town Hall," Richard said. "This will allow us to have an open conversation with various industry stakeholders and learn more about their opinions and recommendations." TCHFM will also introduce a show concierge who will assist market attendees with everything from navigating the halls at the International Centre to making dinner reservations.
     With the return from retirement of André Bergeron as show manager, TCHFM has a new management team.
     "In the weeks following TCHFM, we will send out a follow-up survey to build on the discussions and the feedback we receive during the show," Richard said. "We are working hard on gathering feedback and building on TCHFM's success."

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