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Textiles Exhibitors Open to Optimism

High-end Suppliers Seek New Accounts

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, August 13, 2007

Home textiles suppliers are looking for a good response at the New York Home Textiles Market Week that is held in conjunction with the International Gift Fair here this week.

For a number of exhibitors, they are coming off a good market in Las Vegas last month and based on firm appointments, see this week's activity as being on a par or better. And the opportunity to open new accounts also is viewed as a plus.

"I'm pretty optimistic about New York," said John Rose, co-principal of Textillery. Coming off a "good market in Vegas that was really strong the first two days," Rose hopes to open some new accounts here as well as build on existing accounts. "We're also hearing about more store openings, which is good, and there's more talk about getting away from the sameness that has prevailed."

For Traditions by Pamela Kline, "We have a lot of pre-show positives regarding attendance," reported Shari Kline, president, and the business conditions have stabilized in terms of orders. "It's been a tough business earlier this year, but we are looking for a strong holiday season."

A big change for Traditions, Kline added, "is that we now are almost 50/50 domestic production and imports." The company has manufacturing facilities in Claverack, N.Y., where it produces the special sizes and styles, and stocks the basics as imports.

"I have had terrific shows so far this year, and I anticipate a really good show at the Javits," said Mary Ella Gabler, principal of Peacock Alley. "Vegas was the least of the three, but it's a presence; Dallas was good; and Atlanta was really good." As with the other shows, there will be new couture and fashion introductions, she related.

Also buoying Gabler's hopes is that "this is the second round of markets with our own sales force." Previously the company used rep organizations "and now we're getting so much better information and feedback."

Also feeding the company's sales is the strength of its e-commerce business, Gabler noted. "It's growing 20% a year and is one of the most profitable areas."

"We're having a fabulous year and expect a great show," said Annie Selke, principal of Pine Cone Hill and its affiliate divisions. The company is showing both at Pier 94 at the Gift Fair, and at a separate showroom in Lower Manhattan.

"New York has been our largest order-writing show" among the markets for Company C, explained Walter Chapin, principal, "but I don't have any early vibes about how it will be. I look at markets in terms of business written, leads and a general overview."

To Chapin, "There is no doubt New York is important, even though it is regional. But we're color- and design-leaders so we need to be here for that as well."

Analyzing the Las Vegas and High Point, N.C., markets where Company C also shows, Chapin reported, "Vegas was a very good show for us, it was 60% better than in January — and it's regional with California, Utah, Colorado, Washington and Texas the most represented."

Las Vegas, Chapin related, almost equaled High Point, where his team sees major catalogs, more furniture stores, and designers.

Katha Diddel Home Collection has high expectations for the fourth quarter, "especially the holiday season from specialty stores," related Katha Diddel, principal. Noting that it's been a quiet summer, there's been "phenomenal activity" from the bigger retailers for holiday: "The larger stores are being aggressive about holiday business."

The company is updating its website, which will expand its potential as an order format for retailers. The site will transact no business for consumers, "just give product information," Diddel added.

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