• Thomas Russell

Palliser returns to case goods category

Casana re-connection

marbleThese marble top dining tables are part of a new standalone dining program offered by Palliser Furniture.
HIGH POINT — Palliser Furniture’s return to case goods at the recent High Point Market resonated with dealers who, over the years, have traditionally shopped the line for its Canadian-made upholstery.

And based on orders and commitments made at market, the company said it is moving forward with nearly three quarters of the 350 SKUs it offered in bedroom, dining and occasional furniture.

The launch was Palliser’s first major showing in the category since its purchase of case goods importer Casana Furniture Co. in June.

In years past, the Palliser line included case goods. But more than 10 years ago, the Casana line was created as an independent case goods import resource following a restructuring of Palliser that allowed the company to focus on its upholstery line.

The launch included a broad mix of bedroom, dining and occasional collections as well as some freestanding product outside of collections. Roughly 75% of the mix was first-time-seen product with the balance being from Casana’s contemporary line.

Company Creative Director Paul Martens described the reaction at market as fantastic. In particular, he said, the merger of the two companies allowed Palliser reps to sell case goods to many majors that had previously purchased from Palliser’s upholstery line.

“We did get access to many more accounts through the merger,” he said, adding that there also was a lot of excitement among reps about how the showroom looked and felt. They, in turn, conveyed that sense of excitement to the dealers.

“Even though they (the new reps) had been working for Palliser upholstery, they didn’t know what we were doing down the hall,” Martens said of the previously neighboring showrooms of Casana and Palliser at 220 Elm. “They really embraced it and had a good reaction to it.”

While some groups will not immediately go into production, Martens noted that they will come out later in a new finish, for example, as dealers embraced the actual design.

The mix shown at market included six new bedroom, dining and occasional collections. The company also added some dining and bedroom pieces to existing lines to fill in with a more comprehensive product statement within each group or collection.

Most bedrooms are targeted to retail from $1,599 to $1,899, falling within Casana’s original $1,299 to $1,999 lineup.

There was also a standalone dining program with 11 table options, four chairs available in multiple fabrics and two sideboards. Four-piece sets in this program retail from $899 to $1,399 with the higher priced sets including marble-top leg tables.

Finally, there were 11 new occasional groups shown at market. With cocktails retailing from $399 to $599, the majority of these groups feature tables with casters, allowing them to tie in nicely with Palliser’s motion collections.

“This was all developed, looking at gaps in the line and to go with upholstery,” Martens noted.

Each category also fell largely within Casana’s contemporary and soft modern footprints and are made mostly with wood species that complement the style statements. These range from ash and quarter cut oak to birch and walnut, most of which are in low-sheen open-grain looks that help tell the wood story.

There were also new finishes developed specifically for the new groups, including a lighter tone frosted ash finish seen on its Alexandra collection.

bedroomThis bedroom is part of Palliser’s new Alexandra collection, which received positive reaction from dealers at market.
Thanks to Palliser’s use of Bluetooth technology in its upholstery line, a number of pieces in the case goods line now feature the same type innovation. For example, a sideboard and an upholstered bed both have built-in Bluetooth speakers that can be operated from a smartphone. The technology adds about $100 to each piece, or roughly $200 at retail.

The Palliser showroom also devoted about 2,200 square feet of space to a lifestyle presentation of the case goods groups shown with some Palliser upholstery, further illustrating the company’s new whole-home approach.

Groups that go into production are expected to ship early in the first quarter, hitting retail sometime in April, Martens noted. Made in Vietnam, the groups can all mix on containers shipped direct from Vietnam, and some product will also be stocked in the company’s domestic warehouse.

Palliser President and CEO Cary Benson said the launch of Palliser case goods marked a return to what the company was known for, for many years.

He believes the whole home approach that will eventually tie more case goods and upholstery together represents a major opportunity for Palliser.

“People who watch trends in the marketplace know companies are doing more collections,” he said. “Not everything is ‘matchy matchy,’ but it has to all work together.”

Roger Friesen, the former president and CEO of Casana, is now executive vice president of business development at Palliser. He said the acquisition of Casana will allow Palliser to create more lifestyle product presentations of case goods and upholstery as well as accent and occasional furniture.

“We ran as a separate company for 10 and a half years,” Friesen said. “I think as far as the sale of Casana to Palliser, it was a very positive move for us coming under the Palliser brand. And Palliser Holdings gives us the resources to grow the business in terms of the reach of the customer base. The combination of the two is very complimentary. It’s a very good next step for the case goods company.”

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, Furniture Today

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.

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