Value, variety woo buyers in diverse home office arena
Thomas Russell -- Furniture Today, November 7, 2011
HIGH POINT - Many home office vendors showing at the October market here focused on their core strengths in order to offer buyers the greatest value in the category.
The result was a mix that offered something for nearly every consumer, ranging from executives who like large-scale office setups in their homes to younger professionals who rely on smaller, laptop-friendly desks or workstations.
Sligh Furniture, recently acquired by Lexington Home Brands, showed for the first time in a space in Lexington's showroom. The new location generated an increase in traffic, particularly among Lexington dealers that had not seen the Sligh brand in some time, said Rob Sligh, president.
Among Sligh's most popular additions was a new soft contemporary group called Longboat Key.
Dealers liked the selections available in the 10-piece group, which includes three desks, a credenza and deck unit, a bookcase and a two drawer lateral file. With a 68-inch executive desk and 60-inch writing desk retailing at $3,195 and $1,699, respectively, dealers liked the concave shape and movement on desks and bookcases, which can be displayed individually or as bunching units.
"The whole contemporary aesthetic is very popular," said Sligh. "There are a lot of curves and softness in it, which creates broad appeal."
Retailers also liked innovative features associated with the Sligh brand, including laptop docking/data port stations on the top of the credenza and cord management on the executive desk.
Expanding the styles available in its popular modular library wall systems, Parker House received strong dealer response on new soft contemporary models, each available in one of three finishes.
Priced at about 25% below its more traditional library walls, a 10-piece unit, including a corner block that allows it to fit along an L-shaped corner, retails at $4,000. A companion 60-inch writing desk is also available.
Dealers liked the multitude of storage options and the mix of finishes including merlot, burnished cherry and cottage white.
"We try to put every piece in those library walls that a customer would need," said Roberta Woodard, vice president of merchandising. "This is a style departure from anything we or other wholesalers have to offer. It will appeal to a more youthful consumer."
Turnkey Products received strong response on two 12-piece office groups, Blair and Barton Park. In particular, dealers liked the wire-brushed finish on Blair, which includes a 48-inch writing desk that retails at $499 and a 70-inch half pedestal executive desk that retails at $899.
"Nobody is doing that brushed look in home office and we decided to do it in a big way," said Ken Levi, a partner in the company. "We got a tremendous amount of placements on that group."
Both groups, expected to hit retail in December and January, also received high marks for features such as iPad storage areas and modified work surfaces that extend to create a larger desktop. They also are the correct height for those who use today's electronic devices, Levi said.
"We do all these things that create a product that is unique and hopefully will be a success at retail," he said. "For me, the most reassuring thing was that the people who were in here in April came back and bought more."
Golden Oak by Whalen showed a host of new and existing home office SKUs ranging from L-desk and hutch configurations to its Space Saver Suites that offer pieces such as single ped desks with mini hutch units and companion bookcases. Also receiving attention in the showroom were smaller scale, laptop-friendly units including drop lid desks with hidden storage, pullout work surfaces and built-in data ports.
Dealers liked the variety of options in the line as well as the mix of styles ranging from the more traditional Breckenridge collection to the more transitional, soft contemporary Cappuccino collection, both of which offer desk and hutch units and companion bookcases.
AICO Office Systems revamped its lineup this market with 28 SKUs of smaller scale product aimed at the work-at-home professional.
"We are trying to make dual use furniture, commercial grade office furniture that looks like residential," said Joe Mathieu, national sales manager for AICO Office Systems. He said a key goal is to appeal to work-at-home professionals in careers ranging from sales to information management and information technology.
"Everyone is more tech savvy now and we are trying to reduce (scale), streamline and make it look cool at the same time," he said.
Dealers liked the clean contemporary looks and variety of the line, which includes desks, meeting tables and credenza hutch units made with walnut veneers and featuring contrasting metal bases.
They also responded well to eight new adjustable-height, ergonomic office chairs, many of which are available in a variety of bright colors.
Kurio King, which made its debut appearance in High Point, received strong response to its solid wood bookcases, including a new line of contemporary cube footprints that retail from $189 to $499. Dealers like the flexibility of the program, which allows them to select varying sizes and finish options.
"Buyers tell me it is going to work because of the flexibility, the quality and the price," said Sergio Zorio, marketing director.
The company also had strong response on its new rustic/Mission inspired JR collection, which offers a 60-inch writing desk, rolling file cabinet and two hutch units, including a bookcase and two-door version. Dealers like the solid oak construction and features such as dovetail drawers and full extension drawer glides.