• Clint Engel

Las Vegas exhibitors say market rocked

Showrooms report strong order writing, attendance

LAS VEGAS — Aside from some grumbling over the earlier-than-usual start to the winter Las Vegas Market and some missing products because of the labor slowdown at West Coast ports, exhibitors were pleased with retailer response to their latest efforts here.

Primo John DeFalcoPrimo International’s John DeFalco demonstrates an easy-transport Primopedic Roll N Go mattress, packaged in a carton with wheels and a handle, which was a big hit at the Las Vegas Market.
Suppliers contacted for this story unanimously reported strong commitments, order writing and attendance. Some witnessed their best traffic in years, while others noted double-digit increases — improvements that appear to go hand-in-hand with the continuing upswing in the economy and retailer moods.

The bedding industry brought out the biggest collection of new products ever seen at this market, bedding exhibitors said, adding that they were positively received by retailers here, where the category dominates.

“I don’t think we’ve seen a market like this since 2007,” said Kurt Ling, CEO of organic bedding producer OMI. “Traffic in the hallways has been unbelievable. It’s interesting how positive everyone gets when the halls are full.”

Top 10 bedding producer Therapedic successfully launched its broad new Tommy Bahama Home mattress collection, and the response “exceeded our expectations,” said Gerry Borreggine, president.

Specialty bedding producer Dormeo N.A. also did well. “Market was fantastic,” said Jon Stowe, CEO. “Traffic was great. Instead of the shoppers we sometimes see, we had buyers this time.”

Case goods manufacturer and importer Standard Furniture had seen 22 of its top 25 accounts by Tuesday morning and said dealer attendance was up about 19% by that point of the market, which ran Sunday through Thursday.

Response to Standard’s new imported bedroom, dining and occasional introductions that made it to market was positive, said Tim Ussery, executive vice president of sales, noting that half of them are expected to go into production based on commitments and written orders.

“Business is pretty good and people are in more of a buying mood,” he said. “The bulk of retailers are pleased with what is happening on retail floors. It gives them a reason to buy.”

Chuck Reilly, executive vice president of AICO, said attendance was up about 10%, a factor he attributed to AICO’s push into more contemporary designs with its Trance and Studio lines. Click here to see a video on AICO’s design approach.

Cindy Hodnett MM Aico video“We are starting to attract more contemporary dealers,” he said, adding that the company had a strong fourth quarter. Reilly believes that momentum will continue, thanks to a strong backlog and positive response to new case goods introductions.

Jeff Wallner, president of Powell Home Fashions, also reported a 10% traffic increase, attributing it to factors including an improved economy, lower gas prices and an accelerating demand for goods due to the West Coast ports slowdown. He also said that the looming tax refund season is creating demand.

While the show is regional, it continues to draw attendance from the East Coast as well as its share of Top 100 and e-commerce companies, Wallner said. He said Powell gained more new accounts than usual at the show.

Traffic also was strong for importer Primo International, with plenty of buyers writing orders and committing to the company’s introductions, said John DeFalco, executive vice president.

One program Primo expanded was its year-old Roll N Go mattress line, featuring individually wrapped coil mattresses at modest price points and packaged in a carton with handle and wheels. The program now has 12 SKUs and was extremely well received, DeFalco said.

An improving retail climate had Ashley looking at attendance even or ahead of last winter’s show, which also was a strong market, said CEO Todd Wanek.

“It’s well attended, and attitudes are good,” he said. “Everyone’s optimistic, and it’s fun when that happens. Business has been good for (retailers) and they have moved on to looking for new ideas and creativity in their showrooms.”

Home entertainment specialist RowOne shared a showroom with Barcalounger, and President Robert Cribbs was pleased with last week’s show.

“Barcalounger is making all of my domestic product, which has been a growing part of my business,” he said. “When they’re bringing customers through the showroom, they’ll stop and point out RowOne.”

Buyers liked the fact that RowOne is developing stateside warehousing of product, especially in light of the containers piling up at West Coast ports, he said.

Home office resource Turnkey Solutions enjoyed a good market in its first permanent World Market Center space, said President and CEO Richard Olmeda.

“I’d be hard-pressed to find product here that buyers didn’t react to,” Olmeda said. “Our audio consoles have been very well received. They incorporate Yamaha 3D audio capability that allows surround sound without having speakers behind you.”

Caracole’s debut in a temporary Las Vegas showroom on the first floor of Building C attracted a lot of attention, company officials said.

“The traffic throughout market has been phenomenal,” said Cameron Ward, trade and showroom sales manager. “I think we have scanned well over 700 companies up until today. We’re in a prime location.”

Interior designer traffic was especially strong. “Everything we are showing here are in stock,” Ward said. “This is a design-oriented show, and designers want everything fast.”

Natuzzi’s “black floor” product line also drew attention from interior designers, said Scott Sullens, director of Natuzzi’s Design Studio.

“Interior designers are the biggest piece of the pie that hasn’t been tapped,” he said. “For furniture suppliers, it’s almost irresponsible to think that you shouldn’t be going after that market.”

Buyer attendance at Christopher Guy, was “record-breaking,” said Paul Watson, president of the Americas. Several new pieces did well, including the Faberge hand-carved chest and a bedroom chest with drawers hidden behind intricately carved doors, inspired by something founder and head designer Christopher Guy Harrison saw at Harrods in London.

For the Las Vegas summer show (Aug. 2-6), Christopher Guy said it plans to expand its space by 50%.

England Furniture President Otis Sawyer said traffic was “great” throughout the market. He said dealers were in a good mood and looking for domestic sources.

“The port strike makes dealers appreciate domestic sources even more,” Sawyer said. “We doubled our showroom space and came out with more frames for the West Coast.”

Complete coverage of the market and our editors’ picks of best products will appear in the Feb. 2-8 issue of Furniture/Today.

Associate Editor Thomas Russell, Senior Editor Powell Slaughter, Executive Editor David Perry and Upholstery and Style Editor Cindy W. Hodnett contributed to this story.

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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