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Demand Greeting Attendees at HD Hospitality Show

1888 Mills1888 Mills will launch a new sustainable terry program featuring the Coca-Cola brand at the HD Expo
LAS VEGAS - Heading into the International Hotel/Motel and Restaurant Show in New York six months ago, many home textiles suppliers were optimistic about a backlog of demand in the supply line. Based on conversations with those preparing for the Hospitality Design Expo and Conference taking place here May 15-17, it seems they were right.
     President and ceo of Welspun, Barry Leonard, reported, "There's a more positive feel in the business. Purchases seem to have picked up from pent-up demand."
     The United States is Welspun's biggest hospitality market, but the company also does a lot of business in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, which he indicated is a growing part of what it is selling in the hospitality space. Business has increased in Europe, Leonard said, adding, "It depends on the country."
     At the Vegas show, Welspun will maintain a focus on sustainable products and continue new product introductions in this area.
     JS Fiber introduced a new booth at the New York show in the fall, but president Morris Long said Q4 was slow. He attributed that more to cyclical factors inherent in the industry rather than a slow environment and said JS Fiber was up 12% year-over-year.
     Through its purchase of Creative Bedding, the company is now marketing the Fossfill pillow, which has a worldwide patent and is a known brand in the hotel business. "If you're a Foss fill customer, you're always a Fossfill customer," said Long, adding, "The washability is great and makes a great healthcare pillow as well."
     Positive reports on business seemed universal, but some suppliers reported larger gains than others. Brian Berk, president, Howard Elliott Collection, told HTT, "Our Q4 showed a 20% increase over Q4-2010, and Q1 followed similar suit. Based upon commitments we are beginning to receive and production planning we are currently processing, we see the balance of 2012 resulting in very strong sales."
JS FiberJS Fiber will market the FossFill pillow at this year’s HD show.

     Berk said he sees a lot of progress in working new construction projects on an international basis.
     As one would expect, both construction and renovation help drive demand for hospitality textiles, and many exhibitors are finding potential in both.
     "We are seeing new construction projects enter the pipeline. While the numbers may not be as big as they once were, they are still very positive indicators that our industry is strong and moving in the right direction," said Ken Koneck, public affairs manager at Valley Forge Fabrics. "We have seen tremendous pent up project demand exploding in our industry now that the supply of credit has been loosened. Projects are also moving very, very quickly as concerns still linger over a tightening of the supply of credit."
     Valley Forge focuses on sustainable products, with its Fresh and Living Fresh collections making up more than 50% of its running line products, which are priced in line with non-sustainable counterparts.
     Valley Forge will be introducing several new collections at the Las Vegas show including: Earthshine 3 & Earthshine 4 drapery, Delicious Blackout, 2 International Specifier Textures Collections and Rockstar Texture both for upholstery and Captivate & Mesmerize Collection for drapery.
     Bruce Cohen, owner of Boca Terry, agrees that there is an increase in construction and also sees a positive trend in renovation. "Many new construction projects that were put on hold in 2009 and 2010 have received financing, so we do see a trend of new construction, especially overseas. Deferred maintenance occurred in 2009 and 2010 as well, so there is a major push for renovation."
     Boca Terry saw double-digit growth in Q4 2011 and in Q1 2012 and Cohen believes the hospitality business is doing very well. "Rack rates are up, occupancy rates are up, and there is new construction. In addition, our spa business has expanded."
     Standard Fiber's vp sales and marketing, Shawn Berry said: "The hospitality renovation pipeline is growing, while the new build sector is still having issues regaining its form in the U.S., especially the larger projects. Most of the big franchisor groups are looking to Asia for a larger share of new construction projects and have numerous planned/funded projects. Since we are focused on private label, growth in the various segments helps our partners grow, and our hospitality business going forward."
Standard FiberStandard Fiber will showcase its new mattress protection options in Vegas.

     At the Vegas show, Standard Fiber will be showing its new mattress protection options, with both DreamTec mattress encasements and hypoallergenic, waterproof mattress pads and protectors. The company will also highlight some operational savings for hotel operators by developing its products to "quick dry," via additional technologies that Berry believes are now gaining interest in hospitality, especially for fill type products.
     With the laser-like focus on price waning somewhat from the worst days of the recession, eco-friendly and sustainable products seem more in demand, exhibitors said. But price and sustainability aren't necessarily incompatible according to Karen Nilles, hospitality product development manager for 1888 Mills.
     "Sustainability does not always mean that you have to pay a premium. Properties can purchase linen products that reduce overall chemical, water, and energy costs in laundering which is good for the environment as well as their own bottom line," she said.
     1888 Mills will show the Whole Solutions terry program "that eliminates the need to launder before first use," she added. "The towel is treated with a proven, safe anti-microbial finish that ensures a clean and fresh product out of the box."
     The company will introduce a new line of textiles made with recycled PET plastic. "Our biggest product launch at the HD Expo will actually be a new sustainable terry program featuring the Coca-Cola brand and recycled PET yarns. Our booth will feature both terry and sheeting product that has been woven with these RPET yarns," Nilles said.
     Jannice Cameron, vp of marketing, at Hollander Home Fashions agrees that reasonable prices and sustainability aren't always in tension. "Price and service remain the drivers but customers are interested and seeking both value and green options simultaneously."
     She also told HTT that Hollander had a solid Q1 and expects continued growth throughout the year. As part of that growth goal the company will be marketing its Memorelle, Superside, Arctic Fresh Down and Crypton products at this year's show.
     Keith Sorgeloos, president/ceo, Home Source International, expressed many of the same sentiments as his colleagues as HD Expo approaches. "Renovations are leading the way in 2012," Sorgeloos said, "and one of the least expensive ways to refurbish, rejuvenate and renovate a property is through the guests' experience of seeing, sleeping and bathing with new and fresh bed and bath textiles. So we are beginning to see movement in re-decorating and providing a facelift with fresh linens."
     Like many of his counterparts, Sorgeloos reported that construction is strong in Asia.
     Home Source will be highlighting a patent pending rocking bed at HD Expo, a regenerated lighting series, and believes its bamboo bedding and Microcotton towels will continue to lead the way for hotel textiles. The company will also unveil a "Made in America" manufacturing platform in the second half of 2012 that will cater to the hospitality industry.

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