• Cindy W. Hodnett

Upholstery vendors report good results

AICO’s DetroitDealers responded well to AICO’s Detroit industrial-inspired collection.
Las Vegas - The crystal clear days and near-record high temperatures added to the sunny outlook at the winter market in Las Vegas. Upholstery showrooms were busy, introductions intriguing, and company officials pleased with the results.
     "Our business was up 20% this market versus the August Las Vegas Market," said Randy Spak, vice president of sales for upholstery supplier American Furniture Mfg.
     Spak said the strongest upholstery placements for American were sectionals and the "color story."
    "Retailers were looking for strong values, sectionals and better fabrics," he said. "We sold and placed the groups as expected, and we'll feature a continuation of strong values, sectionals and color (at High Point Market)."
     In the Emerald Home Furnishings showroom, Nettie, a Scandinavian-inspired group, generated excitement and orders. Vice President of Upholstery Jeffrey Katz said buyers were looking for color as well as "different and unique products."
     "Our strongest placements were in top-grain leather motion and mid-century modern styles," Katz said. "With Nettie, I was delighted to see dealers accept (the Scandinavian look) at midprice points."
     Klaussner Home Furnishings reported a 15% increase in showroom traffic from January 2013. President Bill Wittenberg said the positive dealer response reinforces the company's plan to bring major introductions in domestic upholstery and motion categories to the market later this year.
     "This was one of the best Las Vegas markets we have seen since we began showing here," Wittenberg said. "Our Carolina Preserves upholstery did very well, and we also had a strong showing in our import product which was very well received. Retailers continue to look for styling and color in stationary upholstery, and dealers seemed to be looking for ways to appeal to the up-and coming generations."
     David Ebbetts, president of Mr. Brown/Julian Chichester, said he saw more interest in "boundary-pushing pieces."
     "We had stronger orders and better recognition of the brand and interest in general this market," Ebbetts said. "Retailers were looking for something new to offer their customers, and we had more reaction to our boutique, higher-priced pi
Home Furnishings’ EmelineBest Home Furnishings’ Emeline custom seating collection includes a neutral chair with contrast welt for $599 retail.
eces. These pieces are more unusual, well priced for the category and stand out in a crowd."
     Natuzzi opened a new 13,000-square-foot showroom for the Las Vegas Market. Peter Halunen, brand manager for Natuzzi Editions, said business was good.
     "We experienced many existing and new retailers writing orders above average," Halunen said. "Overall, the reaction to our new Re-vive chair continues to be very strong and positive. We continue to gain new retailers committing to this new concept of performance recliners.
     "Our new collection of Natuzzi Editions product, which in October was focused on a new collection of loose seat and back, larger-scale transitional looks, continued to gain new placements. The B858 has been a huge winner with the open-cut welt design really being a home run. We also signed up several new dealers for Natuzzi Italia programs."
     At Best Home Furnishings, Eric Vollmer said business reflected continued momentum from 2013. He said the company expanded its custom seating program for Las Vegas in response to strong placements.
     "We added the Emeline collection this market, and we have 700 fabrics and it ships in five working days," Vollmer said. "It's really pumping volume and efficiencies into our stationary program."
     Best also had strong response to the Next Generation motion recliner line and to the accent chair program with Harbor Classics fabrics.
     "The Next Generation recliners are more streamlined, and they've done so well that we added matching sofas and loveseats," Vollmer said. "The Costilla loveseat has placed very well - it rocks, has a USB port and power and a more metropolitan look available in about 20 covers."
     LaCrosse Furniture President and CEO Chris Podschun said the new AHZ coil-cushion sofas did well and the company had a "good" winter market.
     "We had good attendance, but a little smaller orders," he said. "Our Trilogy - three-size sofa-sleeper - introductions did very well. The category is growing, and the dealers want more." In the Bassett showroom, response to the Xpress 2U upholstery customization program was strong. Tom Prato, vice president of sales, said the program, which launched in High Point, will be expanded.
     "This was one of our biggest product introductions in years," Prato said. "For Bassett, it is a quality story, a price point story and a domestic story. It bridges the gap between design flexibility, medium customization and premier customization."

Marshfield Furniture

Marshfield Furniture's Essentially Yours sectional includes a floating ottoman and ships with an extra seat cushion, allowing consumers to remove the chaise if desired. Retail is $1,799.

The Nettie collection by Emerald Home Furnishings featured Scandinavian style at medium price points and was a top placement for the company.
Scandinavian Style

     Marshfield Furniture observed the company's 70th anniversary at the market and celebrated a "very nice increase" in sales from last year.
     President Bill Mork said the Tatum collection, described as a "biscuit-back, retro-contemporary," was a strong placement at market, as was the Brandon sofa, chair-and-a-half and jumbo ottoman with "Western way fabric application." Brandon is Marshfield's longest and deepest casual sofa, according to Mork.
     The Baldwin three-by-two sectional also placed well. Marshfield designed the new configuration in response to strong sales of the Baldwin conversation sofa. Mork said the introduction of a swivel-glider chair led to "better than-expected" add-on sales, and that retailers also responded to faux leather products that appeal to price-sensitive shoppers.
     "Retailers were looking for American-made upholstery and strong value," Mork said. "In addition, many wanted unique product that afforded them exclusivity in their marketplace."
     Norwalk Furniture's vice president of marketing and merchandising, Reyna Moore, said that color continued to be a key attraction in the showroom and that buyers resp
Design Legacy’s Daniel armchair in Kachina fabric retails for $995 and was a strong placement for the company in Las Vegas.Design Legacy’s Daniel armchair in Kachina fabric retails for $995 and was a strong placement for the company in Las Vegas.
onded to a variety of digital prints, along with the new Blanche sofa and accompanying Edinburgh chair in pearlescent leather.
     "They also love the Sally chair in Houndstooth, and our Miami sectional dressed in leather," she said. "We're going to introduce a new color palette later this year that will include a lot of digital brights as well as clay and copper. We're even going to show a unique take on camouflage."
     New additions to AICO's smaller-scale Studio line did very well, according to Laurie Phillips, vice president of soft line merchandising. Phillips said the Marilyn sectional was a strong placement, along with product from the Detroit collection, an industrial menswear upholstery group.
    "Buyers want color, but you have to have intelligence behind the color story," Phillips said. "Color must be comfortable and you have to show the consumer where and how to use it. Home furnishings must be livable."
     At Abbyson Living, the new Monica Pedersen Collection attracted a lot of attention.
    "Everybody loved the colors and the line," said Yavar Rafieha, president of Abbyson Living. "We received commitments from many large retailers to carry the collection. Not only were they interested in carrying the product line, but they were excited to get design tips and videos from Monica Pedersen, which will be released with the product line. The first phase of the Monica Pedersen Furniture Collection by Abbyson Living will be available in April."

Cindy HodnettCindy W. Hodnett | Upholstery/Style Editor

As the Upholstery/Style Editor for Furniture/Today, I spend my work hours studying the sloping curves of sofa frames, the intricacies of fabric and the nail head trim and button accents that function as jewelry on a piece of upholstery. I research the companies that bring these things together for retailers, and ultimately consumers, and interview industry leaders about their business strategies and where they think furniture is heading in the future. And when traveling, I provide a sneak peek at what I'm seeing, whether at international markets or in High Point or Las Vegas.

I look forward to sharing what I see and I hope you'll feel free to do the same. Email me at chodnett@furnituretoday.com or follow me on Twitter @CynthiaWHodnett.

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