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  • Warren Shoulberg

HFPA Annual Meeting Produces Slates, Stats and School

Norman SavariaNorman Savaria, ceo of WestPoint Home, is HFPA’s incoming president.
NEW YORK - There was business and textiles industry enlightenment on the agenda at last week's annual meeting of the Home Fashion Products Association, the industry's trade organization.
     Some three dozen HFPA members and guests were on hand for the event, which saw the confirmation of a new president elect and board members, as well as presentations from North Carolina State University's textiles program and the NPD Group.
     Keith Sorgeloos of Home- Source and the current HFPA president announced that Norman Savaria, president of West- Point Home, would be the next president of the group, taking over the helm in January 2014. In addition to reelecting eight existing board members, three new board members were added: Spencer Foley of CHF, Harry Kartus of Pem America and Jeff Kaufman of Avanti Linens.
     Sorgeloos said the association, after completing work on voluntary standards for terry towels and bed sheets, is now working on a measure for rugs, but no completion date has been announced.
     Other association business included a legal update from Bob Leo, the group's counsel, who brought members up to date on a variety of issues including the status of flammability legislation at the federal and state levels, care labeling requirements and trade developments.
     Next up was Dr. Blanton Godfrey, dean of the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University. His presentation - the first the school has ever made to the HFPA and part of its efforts to take a more high profile position within the New York-based home textiles community - touched on a wide number of programs and projects the school is currently involved in, in both the woven and non-woven areas.
     Dr. Godfrey said in addition to extensive testing and laboratory facilities, the school is actually doing some production work for textiles companies on a contract basis. It is also working with other schools around the world, including the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, to coordinate educational efforts within the textiles area.
     The final presentation at the meeting was from The NPD Group, the consumer tracking organization that specifically follows the home textiles industry. Carrie O'Connor, account manager for several home categories, gave an overview of the company and provided the findings of some recent research, gleamed from consumer interviews.
     Among them:
     • Consumer confidence in the economy is rising, from 36.6% of people who felt positive about things a year ago to 41.1% this past September.
     • NPD is expecting a better-than average holiday shopping season, citing "frugal fatigue" as a reason why consumers will buy more over the next six weeks.
     • The sweet demographic spot for home textiles remains people over age 45 making $75,000 or more. People who fit into those categories have increased their purchases more than the general population.
     • Online's share of the market continues to increase, depending on the specific product category. In bedding, 11.7% of purchases are made online; in windows 10.6%; in bath, 5.5%; and in kitchen and dining, 5%.
     She also outlined several broad trends NPD sees impacting the home textiles business: increased consumer preference for convenience; the do it- yourself economically movement; the need for little luxuries; consumers seeking well-being; and more growth in less utilitarian, more "form" products such as decorative pillows versus more commodity "functional" products likes sheets and towels.

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