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  • Clint Engel

Retailers want clarity from Heritage Home

Company has made changes, but hasn’t said much

HIGH POINT — Heritage Home Group has been busy over the past few months, although not very talkative.

The new parent for what had been Furniture Brands International companies has been changing and consolidating its sales force — placing multiple brands under a single, sometimes new rep, while greatly expanding the territories of others.

In addition:

• Heritage Home has been adding and reassigning new executives while losing others.

• It has closed a Thomasville plant, laying off 84 workers.

• It plans to move corporate offices from St. Louis to the High Point area, some sources say.

• Heritage Home’s Lane and Broyhill lines were a no-show this month at Nationwide Marketing Group’s PrimeTime show in Las Vegas, after booking a space there. No explanation was given.

And while some Heritage Home companies appear to be making strides in product fulfillment and delivery, others have failed retailers by breaking or drastically altering delivery commitments.

Heritage Home has been tight-lipped about most of these actions, not only to the media, but to the majority of retailers contacted for this story. Heritage Home executives and a spokesman didn’t respond to requests for comment on this story.

While a “no comment,” isn’t exactly unusual for the media, the lack of information sharing with retailers has some concerned about their future with brands such as Thomasville, Broyhill, Lane and Drexel Heritage. Many retailers are rooting for the brands’ success but are baffled by the silence and certain actions of the new owners.

Bill Bradley, merchandising manager of Lancaster, Pa.-based retailer Interiors Furniture, said he is frustrated by sparse communication from Heritage Home and its brands. Interiors sells Thomasville and Drexel Heritage.

He said the retailer saw decent growth in its Thomasville business in 2013, but started experiencing delivery slowdowns in the early fall. Deliveries were pushed months out, he said, which resulted in floor samples being sold off and put a crimp in Thomasville business.

That pattern has continued this year under the new ownership, he said, adding that Interiors has noticed inconsistencies and sudden changes when checking Thomasville’s systems for inventory level and fabric availability information. Delivery date information was changing by months “overnight,” he said.

“It becomes a real customer service issue, which puts a bad reflection on us,” Bradley said.

Interiors worked closely with its Thomasville rep, who tried to help, but “at the end of the day, we still couldn’t satisfy the customer in some cases.”

Changes in Heritage Home’s rep force now are throwing another wrench into the works and causing several retailers contacted for this story to question Heritage Home’s logic in the move.

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