New options and ‘qualified optimism’ on tap for upholstery exhibitors in Vegas

LAS VEGAS —The Las Vegas Market offered new options in upholstery and some qualified optimism among manufacturers attending the show.

Even after consumer’s furniture buying spree during the past two years and the ensuing race for inventory build, retailers signified a willingness to buy again.

Getting the right product

One refrain among manufacturers was that, even if retailers did not struggle with inventory overages, some still do not have the “right” product mix.

“It’s retail specific in terms of how they handled inventory,” said Mark Weber, CEO of Southern Motion/Fusion Furniture. “Some have taken a hit to sell off excess inventory. Some are afraid to do so given the freight rates they paid for this stock. Overall, we see inventory rationalization getting better for Q2.”

Lending a note of optimism was Rick Lovegrove, president of upholstery for Four Hands. Rather than “gloom and doom” around retail inventory, he said Four Hands’ retail partners have been bettering their inventory positions and are currently more balanced.

Retailers are “taking the opportunity to refresh their floors,” Lovegrove said. “They are focusing on core vendors or core suppliers, narrowing the scope to more select partners.”

Regardless of inventory issues, Diamond Sofa continued its program of introducing products at Las Vegas as its customers have come to expect, according to Charles Song, marketing coordinator, who added that its catalog launches are a major anchor to the company’s marketing efforts.

Kuka Home North America president Matt Harrison said, “It’s been a mixed bag for retailers with high inventory that are stuck with higher priced production, and now there’s lower priced product coming in, so they’re struggling.”

He added that Kuka Home’s focus on fresh new designs has been a bright spot for its medium to medium-high priced product lines, and there is still a lot of money out there for upholstery products at these price points.

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Manwah’s gemstone-colored stationary sectional.

Some manufacturers noted that retailers are looking to them to fill the void left by United Furniture/Lane. Gabriele Natale, president of Manwah North America, said that Manwah offers a financial safe haven for retailers, with its robust vertically integrated production and production capabilities in a host of locations including Asia and Mexico.

Manwah’s stationary seating launch was well-received as it worked to provide value-priced seating in a space that was normally not part of its product portfolio.

Value drives development

“Value proposition” was a big refrain at Las Vegas, with a need for greater product features and inputs to help retailers sell as much value in a product as possible at varied price points.

“Abbyson retailers are looking for value for their dollars. They want to know ‘What story can I tell to get a higher return on product placement?’” said Rodd Rafieha, chief sales officer.

Abbyson’s focus is on collections of complimentary finishes on the company’s living room, bedroom and dining room furniture that is pulled together but not “matchy-matchy.” One of the company’s biggest hits at market was its Cloud sectional, now covered in a matte aniline-dyed leather.

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Abbyson’s popular Cloud sectional, now covered in matte leather, was a standout hit for the company at Las Vegas.

Southern Motion’s Weber said, “We’re focused on our retailers’ success. We’re driving more value in our products for their price points.”

Along the same lines, its sister company, Fusion, introduced a Luxe Living collection with a sofa MSRP of $1,000 in a choice of 15 fabrics and a higher density foam than is normally found in this price range.

Several manufacturers noted that this is an opportune time for retailers to move their customers along to a more upscale product.

Nathan Mathies, national accounts manager at Best Home Furnishings, said its new power rocker enables the RSA to upsell customers. “We now have power and rocking together, and it’s a decent point of upselling for the RSA.”

At Four Hands, Lovegrove is seeing a demand for products at a higher price point. “We see customers willing to invest in better quality. Four Hands has been pushing its pricing to accommodate the quality and original designs that we offer,” according to Lovegrove.

lv uph - omnia leather, Breckenridge, GrandCanyon sofa
Omnia Leather offered its latest collaboration with Sunbrella for its Pendleton collection, offering a luxe mixed fabric and leather look for retailers looking to add more upscale options to their selling floors.

Elevated looks and more luxurious fabrics were one of the approaches for Omnia Leather. In partnership with Sunbrella, Omnia introduced its Pendleton collection, an American style that supports a more elevated price point.

“With Pendleton’s leather/fabric combinations, we find that the customers for this look have … homes where money isn’t an issue,” said Katherine Skinner, merchandising manager. Similarly, Omnia added new covers in a grade 3 distressed leather to some of its more popular frames providing a “great look for the dollar.”

Newest trends?

As for trends in scale, the direction is unclear. For Best Home, the company had been producing a condo-sized, smaller scaled upholstered collection that it will continue to produce. But now, its dealers are asking for more larger-scale products, and the company accommodated this request.

Coaster Fine Furniture featured promotional price, flat pack, e-commerce friendly, smaller space upholstery at Las Vegas. “We thought we’d do well with e-commerce and wanted to bring in something to fit that need,” said Marlene Vidal, corporate sales and marketing manager.

Southern Motion’s Fusion Furniture introduced a custom program, “Grab a Seat,” that had a mini test market just prior to the pandemic. For Las Vegas, the company did a full rollout for West Coast customers and said the response was very positive. MSRP for a custom-covered side chair was $500 to $700, depending on the cover and swivel vs. stationary.

Abbyson continued its emphasis on producing goods that have “aspirational” looks that are attainable for consumers, citing as example its Cloud sofa in leather, which retails for approximately one-third of a similarly configured RH sofa, according to Abbyson.

Manwah’s Cheers stationary upholstery introductions offered both sofas and sectionals, with various fabric choices for each, with an MSRP in the range of $999 to $1,900. In addition, it completed its product “grid” with the introduction of its Edge motion upholstery.

Introductions from Kuka Home included its Mediterranean collection and a line that uses sustainable performance Valdez fabric, among a host of other introductions.

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