Bernards Furniture reveals its strategy for 2023

HIGH POINT – Bernards Furniture’s 2023 strategy can be summed up in two words: Market share.

“Our strategy going forward is all about market share,” said Micah Swick, company president. “When you and everyone else have overstock problems, the only way you can grow is to go out and gain market share. We’re focused on growing, and we’re having some success.”

Bernards, a full line importer and distributor, offers a wide range of styles and categories. As a “one-stop destination” for retailers, distribution is key.

“We’re working to grow our distribution channel,” he said. “We’re doing more business with e-commerce dealers, but we aren’t doing e-comm directly ourselves. We’ve gotten some pretty large regional accounts. We’re focused on having the right product.”

Swick said high inventory levels remain a problem for much of the industry.

“Most of us have too much inventory at too high of a price,” he said. “All of it came in with high container rates. The challenge is to use a blended margin strategy. Product now is five times cheaper than what it was six months ago. It’ll be about whether people can get out of that inventory at a rate that allows them to stay in the black.”

He predicts things will improve by the end of the first quarter, but says it’s tough to say.

“Are sales robust? Are we seeing higher consumer demand over the holiday season? Or do economic and political uncertainty cause a pullback? In that case, it would elongate. But consumer spending has been surprisingly resilient,” he said.

In dealing with the earlier-than-usual closure of Vietnam factories for Lunar New Year, Swick isn’t concerned.

“As long as we have open lines of communication, it should be okay,” he said. “The factories are building product in advance of the shutdown. Shipping will remain consistent. Only production will be impacted.”

Regarding product trends, Swick predicts companies will continue introducing large groups, with a focus on more modern styling. He expects greater category expansion as companies consolidate.

Bernards sources product from Brazil, China, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan and Vietnam. The company sells to more than 2,500 retailers in the U.S., with its largest presence in the Southeast and Northeast.

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