follow us
Jerry Cohen Law and the Business of Furniture blog.

In the Wake of Furniture Brands Sale, A New Era with Key Questions

December 2, 2013

I'll be attending the Furniture Today Leadership Conference this week, and look forward to talking to people about what the change of Furniture Brands to Heritage Home will mean for them. The change in name is not just cosmetic. A new management team and a new strategy will be in place to navigate the uncertain market and pressing questions I've mentioned before.

It's too early to know all the details, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about what to watch for as Heritage Home charts its course:

First is the selection of Ira Glazer as CEO and President. A seasoned turnaround expert, he previously headed WireCo WorldGroup, a wire rope manufacturer. Will this outside experience be a blessing or a curse? Fresh ideas may be just what a tired company and stagnant industry needs to move forward. But turnaround experts from the outside do not always succeed (many cite Apple retail veteran Ron Johnson's rocky tenure at JCPenney as an example of this). And as we all know, the furniture business has quirks and nuances that Glazer will have to learn like the rest of us.

There are also key questions involving design, manufacturing, sourcing, and retailing. Nobody knows for sure what Heritage Home will do in these areas. Will the brands change design direction? Will any be retired or sold? Will some manufacturing be returned to the U.S., or will more migrate overseas? Many are relieved to see brands such as Lane and Thomasville survive, but nobody knows how they might change, and whether customers will be as loyal after an uncertain time.

And how will other companies respond? Some businesses have benefitted from the uncertainty around the Furniture Brands bankruptcy. Now that the business is back with a new owner and new name, how will other companies move forward? The attention on licensing I saw at Market, and the pronounced change in strategy for Heritage Home, suggest that the industry will continue to reorganize and that there's still a lot of change to come.

What do you think? What's on your mind as Heritage Home Group charts a new course? What will you be watching? If you're at the leadership conference this week, let's chat in person, or you can email me at jcohen@ctswlaw.com.