Showtime receives solid reviews

Carole Sloan, July 19, 2004

Despite a softness of business in some sectors, and the impact of the growing Chinese fabric and fabric-product imports, exhibitors at Showtime here last week generally reported strong responses to their introductions.

Color, and lots of it, in fresh, vibrant shades, fabrics for indoor/outdoor use and designs that reflected a young spirited mood were among the major winners across the show.

"We had a fabulous response, particularly in our new textures as well as our faux suede, which is a growing and evolving category," said Larry Liebenow, president and CEO of Quaker.

Discussing business conditions, Lieb-enow observed, "There is the potential for a strong fall season, and I believe there will be a reasonable pickup for the balance of the year."

At Covington Industries, the strength of the show began on Sunday, which typically is a slow day, said Roger Gilmartin, executive vice president. "Generally, we have just a few appointments; this time we had more than 30, and it continued through the show."

Noting that the furniture business is difficult, especially in the lower-priced segment, Gilmartin remarked, "Jobber and retail was quiet at the end of May, then it picked up nicely." Overall, he added, "There is a lot of interest in color and prints."

New constructions and the recently introduced Destiny & Design cut order fabric program were hits for Costa Blanca here last week. The special-order program geared to retail fabric stores has scored especially well, according to Jack Korngold, vice president.

"Although we brought out a relatively small line, I'm really happy," said Mark Aizawa, president of Chris Stone. There was a lot of interest in color and in fresh, young feeling designs, "and it was well received across the board in all channels."

Overall, Showtime was strong for Waverly, with signature Waverly looks and more youthful designs sharing the spotlight, according to Tom Leahy, vice president of sales. "We've freshened our signature looks in color and pattern and added the influence of the younger consumer in designs in separate collections," he noted.

At American Decorative Fabrics, traffic was almost non-stop from the first hour, said Gary Stein, chief operating officer. Business was strong in all channels, from furniture to bedding to jobbers and retailers, he added.

For Jablan, this Showtime marked a major step forward, said Curt Gunsalus, CEO. Citing the company's Jay Yang's print and woven collections as "phenomenal" and its exclusive Sunbrella trimmings, Gunsalus said business was strong across retail, jobbers and non-furniture manufacturers — "our major distribution."

Indoor/outdoor fabrics as well as a special collection of youthful designs were among the winners at The Robert Allen Group, said Arthur Friedman, vice president. The color palette also was well received, he noted.

Similarly, Tom Hilb, president of Heritage House cited stronger traffic for the firm as well as exceptional response to the introductions.

Even with the showdown in the lower priced segment of the furniture business, Mike Shelton, president of Valdese, called Showtime "fabulous, and our business is very good overall."

At Cone Jacquards, a new approach and a dramatic change in the color palette proved successful, said Larry Wright, head of the division. "We're also growing out outdoor fabrics, it's one of our largest businesses." As for bedding, like some other mills, "We will help the bedding companies make bedding in Asia."

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