American Exhibitors Hopeful for Positive Mood

Carole Sloan, September 3, 2010

high blend linenImperial from Covington, is a feminine Chinoiserie-inspired floral on a high blend linen/viscose/cotton base cloth.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - Hopeful but not overly positive, American exhibitors at Mood, the former Decosit decorative fabrics show held here annually in mid to late September, point to a small uptick globally in this segment of the business.
     In several past years, timing overlaps with Ramadan kept many Middle Eastern buyers from attending. But this year, the observance ends three days before the show's Sept. 12 kick-off.
     Compared with the show here in 2009, exhibitors feel that business generally has improved and will result in better business. There also are companies that stayed out of Decosit or Mood to show in nearby hotels, and now have returned to the exhibit. Still, the American presence among exhibitors is significantly smaller than in the last decade or more.
     One plus that most refer to is that it is a strong point of assemblage for many of their global customers in a venue that is visitor friendly, offers a good climate and is timed right for their businesses, whether jobber, retailer or product manufacturer.
     Add to that, several noted, is the focus on a single element of the decorative fabric business as in the burgeoning outdoor fabric segment or slightly recovering contract business which is seeing some signs of pickup.
     "One of our bright spots is our international business. It took a dip but not like hospitality," said Stan Fradin, president, Rockland. "In fact, international is pretty damned good." Residential business, he termed "pretty good."
     As for the customer base expected, Fradin sees strong groups from South America, Mexico and Canada, all economies he said that "are pumping along."
     "We have a lot of new product from our facility in China that enables us to offer a broad new spectrum of product - dyeing and printing on cotton, cotton/ linen and embellishments," noted Mike Czarnecki, senior vp, Microfibres. The program will be stocked in the United States and will be prepackaged for top-of-bed and juvenile bedding in wide and narrow fabric constructions.
     This, he pointed out, is an addition to Microfibres' new flocks with different base cloths as in the Teahouse Collection - "a niche business of fl ocked prints on linen/cotton."
     As for visitor expectations and business, Microfibres sees Western European business as ahead about 50% - bringing more of this region to the show. "Most other areas are way off," he said.
     For Robin Slough, president of American Silk, this year's Mood marks a return. "We'd been at a nearby hotel, and we're excited to be back. We think the timing is good. People are resetting their business plans and buying new things."
     Covington sees Mood "as one of our biggest shows," commented Tom Bruno, vp, "with a major base of European and South African customers." As for attendance from other areas, Bruno sees it "as the same as '09 - and they come in spurts."
     "We're continuing to support the show," remarked Tom Notaro, vp, Sunbury, a longtime supporter of predecessor Decosit. "We'll see how it morphs." But overall, Notaro says, "There are too many shows and are the promotional efforts here enough?"
     P/Kaufmann still views Mood as a good show. "It's another opportunity to see people more frequently," president Neil Paladino pointed out. Mostly, the company sees a core group of good customers internationally "but we also get a few new ones - and our export business is growing."
     Looking to this Mood specifically, Paladino said, "We have appointments set, and there is a business pickup in Europe. We had second thoughts a few years back about continuing here, but we changed our minds."
     "We're expanding our international marketing efforts," said Natalie Scott, vp, marketing at Shuford/Outdura - "and we really see it better than it was in '09."
     But given the state of the business then, "we really had a good show, considering. Australia was big; Asia and Europe were OK." For Mood, "our design team took a residential approach for our outdoor fabric. We're relatively new to the market, but this is a good opportunity."
     "We have high expectations for Mood," said Robert Lachow, vp, J.B. Martin. The company has two major advantages, he pointed out - "the lack of quality velvet capacity world wide and the large amount of new product we're offering."
     Mood this year has switched to a three-day format from four days and with a mid week start, which most exhibitors applaud. "It forces concise thinking and seriousness in visits," Lachow noted. For American Silk's Slough "the dates are fine in terms of expense and just time waste, and we hope for more European customers with the mid week timing."
     Covington's Bruno is also in favor of the three-day event, commenting that "every show seems to be shortening its timing. Buyers are more frugal and are bringing fewer people."

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