Eyeing October

Carole Sloan, August 22, 2005

Now that all the summer home shows are over, it's time for everyone to hunker down and get ready for the New York Market in October.

That it will be the last of its kind in October — and perhaps a hint of what might be happening across the home textiles world in the future. One of the key topics of discussion between buyers and sellers is certain to be the ongoing changes taking place in the procurement of home textiles products.

As the exclusive Home Textiles Today study on Page 8 indicates, the situation in procurement of products is more than fluid.

More than anything, retailers are using the term “speed to market” as a key piece in their merchandising and marketing mantra. Almost as much as price is essential, getting the stuff into the stores in a speedy manner can make or break a season. And in a business where there can be 10 or more pieces to a bed ensemble, the trick is to get them all to their destination at one time.

And with today's supplier base configurations changing almost daily, both sides of the buying equation are doing a bizarre dance. There are few pros on either side, and the newcomers to the global fray have to be quick studies.

We're talking about accounting procedures at retail that would mystify most accountants in the way they offer retailers a plethora of options, all legal and above board, but increasingly complex in allowing how product can be bought and sold.

And then there is the supplier side with pure domestic manufacturers trying to figure myriad ways to work to the retailer folks they've been dealing with for years.

Adding to this dilemma is the influx of offshore suppliers that are adding an even more complex dimension to the buying/selling equation.

It's a phenomenon that has been building since 2000 when the Asian presence at Heimtextil was a prime indicator of things to come. To date, things have progressed at speedof-light pace. There are those who predict another decade of shake-out. My vote is with the textiles exec who last week predicted an 18-month window until things settle down.

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