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High End Suppliers Upbeat on New York

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, January 28, 2008

Exhibitors attending the New York Home Textiles Market here later this week in conjunction with the New York Int'l Gift Fair expect that the high end of the business will continue to be strong, much as it was in Atlanta — and that interior designers will be a strong part of the attendance.

For some, 2007 was a struggle at the end of the year, but a number managed to grow their revenues. Various factors helped sales: growing interest in green products, stocked inventories and enhanced product development.

The proliferation of home textiles shows is a rising concern for exhibitors who, along with their customers, are picking and choosing where to show. For Pamela Kline, ceo of Traditions by Pamela Kline, there seems to be a growing geographic demarcation among buyers. "They seem to be picking and choosing. California and north of Maryland is stronger for the New York show, while the Midwest and south of Maryland seems to focus on Atlanta," she remarked.

The recent Atlanta show, she said, "was very good for the linen stores and designers, but we didn't see a lot of gift buyers."

Kline sees a growing interest in "green products in home textiles, but they need to be certified." Traditions, she noted, is doing a line of organic cotton blankets and throws that are certified and a chemical-free throughout the manufacturing process. The company is working on a collection of organic cotton sheets that should be ready to launch next year.

Business at Peacock Alley was down last year, "but not by a lot, and was mostly in our quarter from November to January" said Mary Ella Gabler, company principal. "The high end definitely is stronger than the better segment of the business." Reflecting on the recent markets in Dallas and Atlanta, she said, "Traffic was off in both, but we wrote more business in Dallas than last year, and Atlanta was 10% ahead."

For this year, Peacock Alley "will be bumping up our sales and marketing efforts as well as bringing on more product development efforts," Gabler noted. Part of these efforts will be "a more moderate priced line based on our own aspirational price points. The relationship with Homestead — for a more moderate price point collection — didn't work. We need to work directly with the retailers."

"We have a positive outlook, but we're also realistic," is the way Textillery Weavers views this year, according to John Rose, president. "It should be OK to good, based on response in Atlanta, which was mixed." Overall, he said, "Business is OK, but I would like a bigger backlog." On the schedule for later in the spring is a new website, "which should be a plus, especially in the hospitality segment," he added.

For SDH, "We have high hopes for New York," said Catherine Stemmler, national sales manager. The company's experience in Atlanta was: "super busy at first, then slow, then busy — and we ended up ahead. As for Vegas, we anticipate seeing new customers."

Business is up 30%, said Ann Gish, head of her namesake bedding company, "and our goal for this year is to maintain that level of sales." But as far as luxury is concerned, Gish related, "People are going to be more careful about spending, and I don't think things will change 'til after the election."

"We're very excited about the New York Gift Show, since we have a new booth," said Jennifer Chused, national sales manager for DwellStudio, noting that Atlanta was slower than expected. The company is featuring its baby introductions now rather than in September as it had done previously. For home, there is the new Botany Collection that reflects 18th and 19th century inspirations, she said.

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