• Michael J. Knell

CFS gets mixed reviews from exhibitors

TORONTO — The first edition of the new Canadian Furniture Show ended here recently to mixed reviews, although almost every exhibitor surveyed said they not only booked reasonable orders from retail buyers but promised they’ll return in 2016.

Pierre Richard, president and chief executive of both CFS and its owner/operator — the Quebec Furniture Manufacturers Association — said although he was fairly pleased with the results of this year’s event, the work has already begun on 2016.

Richard said Sens Marketing, the Montreal-based consulting group, is already surveying and interviewing a wide range of exhibitors and attendees to measure their detailed reaction to the four-day event.

Richard said early indications suggest overall attendance for the 2015 show was roughly on par with the 2014 edition of what was then called the Canadian Home Furnishings Market. Insiders pegged retailer attendance at about 2,500 and total trade attendance (including designers and others) at slightly less than 5,000.

He also said he believes the drop in overall attendance seen over the past years has bottomed out. “We seem to have stopped the bleeding,” he remarked – an observation he made before opening day about the number of exhibitors participating in CFS as well.

According to Richard, some 250 new badges for members of the trade were issued on Sunday morning — the opening of Consumer Day. There was no breakdown by category, but organizers expressed the belief that the majority were retailers and decorators. “I think this shows Consumer Day really didn’t prevent the business of the trade from happening,” Richard said.

Exhibitors, however, didn’t seem to care for Consumer Day, and every exhibitor surveyed said they were unhappy with the results.

In addition to the turn-out being much poorer than anticipated, most indicated it took away from the show’s primary mission as a platform for resources and retailers.

None of the resources surveyed said it was an event that should be repeated in 2016, and CFS organizers later said next year’s event wouldn’t include Consumer Day. (See story below.)

While Consumer Day was not popular with exhibitors, CFS exhibitors were divided on the show’s performance as an order writing event,.

A minority insisted retail attendance was poor and that was reflected in the orders written.

“It was a good market — not excellent, but good,” said Adam Hofmann, president of case goods producer BG Furniture. “I had higher expectations for total dollar orders. Many dealers ... asked the sales rep to come back to the store to review and finalize. However, we had some very important leading dealers that wrote large orders and that gave us confidence in the new products we developed.”

“It was stronger for order-writing than January 2014,” observed Diana Sisto, creative director for upholstery specialist Brentwood Classics, one of nine ‘official’ outside showrooms participating in CFS.

“It was a good market for us,” she continued, adding, “We were very pleased with the outcome and felt it was an efficient show for us. We signed up many new accounts, as opposed to previous Canadian markets.”

“We saw our key customers and wrote business for significant new floor placements,” added Jason Harris, vice president of sales for stationary upholstery specialist Stylus Made-to-Order Sofas. “This is our only exposure to the eastern (Canadian) market so that is our prime objective for the CFS. Our written orders were the second highest total over the last five shows.”

Michael KnellMichael J. Knell | Contributing Editor

Michael covers home furnishings news in Canada.

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