Showtime Solid, Not Sensational

Carole Sloan, December 17, 2007

Despite a stagnant business environment, exhibitors at Showtime here earlier this month were generally pleased with the response to their introductions.

Many observed that attendance was down, a situation that has been noticeable for several Showtimes. While most of the appointments made prior to the event were kept, walk-ins were at a minimum, a number of exhibitors said.

Many companies reported some increases in business, but the marketplace in general is benefiting from business picked up as a result of the closing of Quaker and Joan, rather than from organic growth.

Looking ahead, there is concern that the dates for the June 2008 Showtime are concurrent with the giant Neocon contract show at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, causing acute scheduling challenges for many exhibitors.

“It was OK but attendance was definitely off,” said John Ringer, vp sales for Richloom. “Winter traffic is always less than summer, and it was even more so this time, but we have to continue even though it is becoming less and less important,” he said. As for the conflict in dates with Neocon, he said, “We have a separate team for contract, so it won't affect us directly.”

For Mike Shelton, president of Valdese, said, “Showtime was very busy for us, and orders were O.K.” Overall the company is experiencing organic growth, but this Showtime also marked the debut of the Home Fabrics and Circa 1801/Doblin businesses acquired from Joan during the summer. “Prospective orders look good,” said Shelton, “and we have growth in each of our distribution channels.”

On the conflict with Neocon, Shelton said, “I am very disappointed that ITMA [Int'l Textile Market Association] didn't plan accordingly; I wish they would change the date. I haven't figured out how to clone myself.”

“It's a good show for the investment we make,” said Tom Notaro, vp, Wearbest Sil-tex Mills. “I'm happy with the attendance and who we see — furniture manufacturers primarily but also jobbers and top of the bed suppliers.”

Highlights for Wearbest were silks — “still robust” — cut velvets, “a nice surprise,” and double beam constructions. As for the June date conflict, Notaro said, “It's not just Neocon, but a Jewish holiday, Shavuot.”

“It wasn't busy but steady,” is the way Michael Day, vp of Textile Fabric Associates viewed Showtime. “It was upbeat, retailers placed orders and jobbers made commitments. But we had seen many before Showtime, and there were few peripherals.”

“We didn't see the walk-ins we usually do, but we had a lot of appointments and everybody showed,” said Tom Leahy, vp, Waverly. But he added, “The time of year is questionable; we lost a lot of ancillary customers.”

“It was actually pretty good,” said Jack Eger, svp Craftex, who noted, “High end bedding suppliers were the strongest segment; retailers were not as strong as before and overall attendance was about the same as the last five markets.”

“We had low expectations and weren't disappointed,” said Jack Cobb, president, Westgate by adf. “We showed key people but it isn't a meaningful order-writing show, nor does it produce the lion's share of the showings we do. But it is still a reasonably necessary event and we'll continue to show.”

“Traffic was off, our appointments came but they were not in a big buying mood,” said Roger Burnim, sales manager for Heritage House. The biggest response was for its textured sheers, multi-purposes cloths, FR fabrics and light upholstery, he said.

As for Showtime dates, the company gave customers the survey being distributed by ITMA concerning December vs. January and “60% said they were not coming back again in December,” Burnim said.

Responding to the concerns about the Showtime/Neocon dates, Catherine Morsell, executive director, ITMA said, “We are addressing the question and should have an answer before the first of the year. Our dates were set so far out we didn't know about Neocon's date conflict.”

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