Aggressive intros keep motion hopping
Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, May 6, 2013
HIGH POINT - An aggressive round of product introductions and innovations kept motion furniture showrooms busy during market as buyers sought ways to keep the category's sales humming.
Many showrooms had buyers in their showroom several days before the official April 20 opening, and exhibitors said showroom traffic remained steady until the waning days of the twice-a-year event.
Buyers were, as usual, looking for motion products at hot price points that could be promoted, but exhibitors also said they saw increased interest in higher-priced goods that offer high perceived value and deliver better margins.
"There really is no bottom to the marketplace, so we have to make sure our story is all about comfort," said Anthony Teague, senior vice president of sales and merchandising at Jackson Furniture. "We want to sell comfort instead of price."
To that end, Jackson's Catnapper motion division touted a new gel-infused foam called Comfort Gel that will soon be in every seat cushion the company makes, while category stalwart La-Z-Boy broadened the memory foam offerings throughout its motion lineup and its iconic recliner line.
"Consumers understand the concept of memory foam, and we think we'll continue to do well with it," said Penny Eudy, La-Z-Boy's product manager for upholstery.
In addition to comfort, motion and recliner resources emphasized style at market, trying to wipe out the notion that motion and style don't belong in the same sentence.
Broyhill, for example, marked its return to the motion category with a lineup that featured stationary-like designs and hidden mechanism releases, while resources such as Southern Motion and Flexsteel emphasized colors other than brown.
"We've had a lot more interest in color," said Lee Fautsch, vice president of sales for residential furniture at Flexsteel, which unveiled 15 motion groups at market. "It certainly gives the category more appeal and higher styling."
The widest variety of colors was found in the showroom of Southern Motion, which introduced a colorful lineup of motion furniture and recliners with Solarium, the weather and fade-resistant fabric line from Richloom. The new line isn't designed to be used outdoors, but is aimed at bringing the look of outdoor furniture to the interior, said Jennifer Davis, Southern Motion's director of merchandising.
"This takes the motion category to a whole new level," Davis said. "We had excellent feedback from just about everyone who saw it."
Exhibitors said leather continues to be a popular cover choice for motion, and several executives said they saw increased demand for top-grain leather instead of bonded leather or similar faux leather products.
"We're finding a tremendous void in the marketplace for better leathers, and we need to give the consumer a reason to step up," said Chuck Tidwell, vice president of merchandising and product development at Franklin.
Tidwell's company featured new motion sofas retailing for about $1,199 in leather, while Flexsteel and La-Z-Boy had new models in the $1,799 range.
"I'm staying in better goods. That's the way to go," said Michael Parasmo, president of Prestige Motion. "There are a lot of (buyers) who want better goods."
Executives at Kuka Home, meanwhile, were enthusiastic about response to the company's debut in motion, which was the centerpiece of the leather upholstery producer's High Point showroom expansion.
"We started off with a bang," said Brian Parker, president of Kuka's U.S. division. "Retailers don't change vendors just for fun, but we hope we've given them a good reason to consider making a change."