Has business experienced a turnaround, and is that turnaround sustainable?
April 15, 2002,
Chris Mooney, vp, design and marketing
A: "I think that consumer confidence has turned a sustainable corner. Does that translate to the necessary up-ticks in business for the wholesaler? With continued consolidation and newer tactics like product auctions being attempted, who knows? These things distort more traditional business prediction models."
Loren Sweet, president
A: "Absent another major disaster, the economy clearly has legs; interest rates are still low by historical standards, housing prices nationwide are largely holding or increasing and consumer spending rolls on."
Steve Goldberg, president
Brylane Home Lifestyles Group
A: "I think that we are seeing some positive signs in the economy and that this is translating into some improvement in customer demand. However, the economy still has a long way to go before we make any solid declarations about the business climate."
Peter Katz, director of marketing
Cecil Saydah Co.
A: "I believe that business has not made the turn yet, but will shortly. Increasing consumer confidence and a fear of the stock market has led to an increased investment in real estate and housing, which could be just the kick start we need when it comes time to decorate."
David Hollowell, director of marketing
Charles D. Owen Mfg.
A: "Our first quarter was on target, and in the past few weeks we've seen an upsurge in orders from all segments of our business; and it looks like we're on track to have a strong second quarter and a very good year."
Deborah Powell, director of marketing
A: "Retailers and manufacturers are still working through inventories; however, there is a cautious optimism among consumers that is starting to permeate the retail climate. The corner is soon to come, but it is my opinion that both manufacturers and retailers will operate more vigilantly than ever before."
David Record, vp, national sales manager
A: "Barring any further catastrophes, I believe the U.S. economy to be back on track, albeit a slow track. We see our customers restocking shelves after taking a wait-and-see approach to ordering."
Farley Nachemin, president
Domestications, Hanover Direct
A: "We are optimistic about the trend of business, and right now we're performing above budget, though we remain cautious under the unstable political situation."
Jeff Hollander, president/coo
Hollander Home Fashions
A: "There are companies that were lean and mean and strong to begin with, and they'll probably stay that way, but there are still a lot of borderline companies. Costs are going up in certain areas, and I see the loss in related savings. I don't think the turnaround will happen for 18 months."
George Matouk Jr., vp
A: "Until the shakeout of Enron-type accounting scandals is complete, I think that the U.S. financial markets will be unstable."
Jeff Jacobs, vp, textile products & global sourcing
A: "We have seen an upturn in demand across the retail distribution channel. The increase has occurred in products that offer a combination of newness and value."
Corey Faul, president
Newport/Layton Home Fashions
A: "Over the last 45 to 60 days we've seen a dramatic, very encouraging increase in business. I don't know that we've turned the corner, but we're certainly moving up the street."
Park B. Smith Jr., president and ceo
Park B. Smith Ltd.
A: "The fundamentals of businesses are finally more important than the 'quick buck,' due to the increasingly demanding environment we all now live and participate in. Those that should not be in business won't be."
Bob Christnacht, manager, blankets and home division
Pendleton Woolen Mills
A: "It sure has turned, and it is sustainable. We've seen an increase in blanket orders starting in January, and that indicates good fourth-quarter sell-through."
Scott Shimizu, executive vp, sales & marketing
A: "Pieces of the business are much better, but some are still struggling. Solid-color towels is a struggle for everyone. Is it sustainable? Who knows?"
Dan Harris, vp, mktg. and product development
A: "Business has definitely turned the corner. Most of our retail partners are already booking aggressively for the upcoming fall season. All indications are that it will continue for the balance of the year."
Tom O'Connor, executive vp
A: "Business has been strong for us from a reorder and a point-of-sale perspective since the beginning of February. So yes, we do think it's turned. And what makes us think it's sustainable is that point-of-sale data is holding up."
Eric Vergucht, executive vp, general manager
A: "Business in certain categories is picking up reasonably well. Especially in the better-quality products, we are getting nice reorders for at-once delivery."
Michael Day, principal and vp, design
Textile Fabric Associates
A: "Business is turning around more at the upper end, at the better-goods level. We're not down and dirty with the lower end, so business is great for us; and we see it as sustainable."
Thom D'Addario, general manager
The Linen Store
A: "For us, business has absolutely turned around. We recently did our month-end, and we were ahead of last year."
Stan Mieszkowski, vp, sales and marketing
The Northwest Company
A: "I don't think it has turned the corner. There's way too much apprehension at the buying level. I hear too many people telling me they're consolidating their assortments and their floor space."
Carl Goldstein, senior vp
S. Lichtenberg & Co.
A: "I think the home textiles business will continue to grow. People are still spending more time at home and when they're at home the easiest way to redecorate is through home textiles. There's no reason there shouldn't be a 5 percent to 7 percent growth rate."
Lorraine Ragland Maberry, vp, sales and merchandising
Trendex Home Designs Inc.
A: "Yes, we have turned the corner, and it is sustainable if everybody works in tandem. The bottom line is we all need to give the customer a reason to buy."
Dale Talbert, vp, sales
A: "It seems to have turned, but we're not over it yet. I don't know if it has totally, but I certainly hope so. I think it will keep going because I think so much of it is a mindset. Our mindset now is things are better and will be better, and I think that's very important."
Bob Dale, president, Bed and Bath division
A: "We're very pleased at the conclusion of the first quarter and cautiously optimistic as we head into the second quarter. Beyond that, God knows."