HD Expo Exhibitors Positive if Cautious

Carole Sloan, June 2, 2008

Despite concerns, particularly about the U.S. segment of the hospitality market, exhibitors at the HD Expo here last month came away with strong feelings about future business.

The HD Expo, unlike other shows that draw home textiles exhibitors, is not a buying show, but more one where hospitality clients outline projects and work with suppliers on specific needs.

Typical of those exhibiting was Andy Pacuk, svp, strategic development of The Robert Allen Group, who said, "It was great for us; we had more than 600 visitors in our stand and it was a very effective venue."

As far as the macroeconomic situation is concerned, Pacuk remarked, "The people coming to see us were very up, and global constraints are not like the U.S. situation."

For Richloom, "The first two days were the most active and very encouraging both from the number of visitors and quality level," said Bruce Reach, manager, contract sales. Overall, Resch said, "The mood was upbeat."

"Our goal was to come home with swatches that we could create our fabrics for future projects," said John Rose, president of Textillery Weavers. "We were pleased, and were just fine with our location."

For Harvey Nudelman, president of Fabricut, "HD Expo is what the [home furnishings] industry should be — forward thinking, product innovation, awards, seminars and forums."

Looking ahead to September, Nudelman remarked that the HD Boutique in Miami "is different; it focuses on the avant garde, the newest, and capsulization."

Stan Fradin, president of Roclon, noted "Our hospitality business is holding strong both domestically and internationally. We were very satisfied from the perspective of going to that type of show — it's primarily for exposure. In one fell swoop we see 90% of our customers in this segment. The giants always are going to be there."

As for the macroeconomic influences on the business, Fradin noted, "We didn't hear of projects being canceled, maybe a bit delayed."

For Steve Palmer, co-president of United Feather & Down, "It was OK, not great. The first day was very, very busy, the second day OK, and the third day empty." Overall, he estimated there were fewer attendees per company and shorter stays because of the economy. But despite this factor, he said, "All the key players were there, but with more caution."

For Faribault, "It was the weakest of the six shows we've been to, but we also didn't send out booth location announcements in advance since we changed location and didn't have the space number in time," said Mike Harris, president.

Overall, Harris related, "The attitude was positive but cautious."

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