Promise in Contract Sector
Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, December 5, 2005
New York — Although contract business represents a small piece of the total pie for many finished home textiles suppliers, several companies continue to see promise in the sector.
Exhibitors of home textiles products at the recent International Hotel/Motel and Restaurant Show here last month generally reported positive results.
For artist/designer Jonathan Adler, “It was really good. It was a new show for us, and we met some really good people,” said Michael Whitton, director of wholesale. The design company showcased its licensees, which included Croscill for bath accessories and towels, Rowe for furniture, and Franco for sheets as well as the self-produced ceramics and decorative pillows and its tabletop and paper lines.
While this show “is in our backyard in New York, we're now considering other shows,” Whitton remarked.
For Down Lite, “It was a very positive event, better than we anticipated, and even Tuesday (the closing day) was quite busy,” said Bob Altbaier, senior vice president.
For Down Lite, it was as much reinforcing positions with existing customers as seeing new potential customers, Altbaier explained. “The hospitality business has grown up to the luxury level even though it still is a small part of our business — some 7 or 8 percent of total.”
While there were “fewer military buyers in attendance, it was very good once again. It was well attended with companies that were buying,” explained Mike Harris, president of Faribault. “We wrote business and picked up new business potential.”
Noting that several “large bed-and-breakfast groups and large motels” attended the show, Bud Young, vice president, marketing for rug supplier Capel, noted, “This was our second show. Last year we attracted some good leads, and this year was very good. Contract could be a central profit center for the company.”
Highlights for Capel were the hand-crafted, tufted Indian rugs, available in custom sizes, as well as the new bath rug groups.
For Pacific Coast Feather, “We're pleased for the improvement from last year,” said Bud Pederson, vice president, sales for hospitality at Pacific Coast Feather. “The traffic and quality of buyers was a bit better.”
For Baltic Linen, a major change in the way product was presented “created a really good response,” said Adam Pinkow, Northeast sales manager.
Typically the company would feature one bed, and this year it featured three beds in a residential setting, “much like our retail showroom.” The change “went very well and attracted hotel operators as well as decision makers,” he added.
As finished products suppliers ramp up, decorative fabric exhibitors — long major mainstays of the event — have dwindled in number.
The catalyst, the two firms' executives explained, has been the concentration among attendees of regional groups, small hotel owners and bed-and-breakfast individual owners or groups.
For Kravet, “The show is so regionalized — from Virginia to New England, and we don't sell direct. We sell fabric to the interior designers and corporations,” explained Arnold Grodman, vice president, contract.
For Charles Cox, president of Northeast Textiles, the benefit of the show “is that it is local, we're local. There were a lot of people, but they were not the major hitters.”
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