Vegas Marketers Bet on Black

LAS VEGAS - Like their NYIGF counterparts, exhibitors heading for the Las Vegas Market, which runs Jan. 30-Feb. 3, have seen strong fourth quarter sales and many positive leading indicators, putting them in a hopeful but careful mood with respect to the upcoming show.
     Kami Navid, vp, Jaunty Co. Inc. is seeing upside potential. "Overall, we see people very optimistic about the economy. The rug industry has been slow in the last two years, if not longer, so I think everybody is now anticipating a better economy, better days, and for business to get back on track." Kami said. Jaunty's sales increased in 2010 versus 2009 and it had double-digit increases in 2011, according to Kami.
     At Hudson Industries, Q4 was "surprisingly strong" according to senior vp Lonnie Schepps, who is leaving the company this month for a new post elsewhere. "Being able to fulfill last minute volume -as we are a vertical manufacturer - helped immensely," he said.
Home SourceHome Source International is showing Pearl Finish sheets constructed from a patented formula using real pearls.

     However, recent developments are not enough to make Hudson double down just yet, "Q1 & Q2 of 2012 appears to be stable as we see it coming through. There's still inventory out there, so we think it will not be blockbuster business [in the first half]."
     Hudson will display its latest cool foams at the Las Vegas show, "Growth may be in new technologies-especially in the specialty foam arena. I see lots of changes with the newer foams coming on strong." Schepps said. He believes the lower end may be the surprise winner next year and that suppliers "absolutely must" keep feeding the low to mid-end customer in order keep the higher-end "halo" in place and available for lead-ins.
     Brian Berk, president of the Howard Elliott Collection said he also experienced a nice surge at the end of 2011 with increases in the company's line of pillows and occasional slip-covered seating collections. Yet, Berk remains cautiously optimistic about the first half of 2012.
     "The buyers are trending toward the conservative side, but there is open to buy," he said. Berk believes there is unlimited upside in the e-commerce space and has had success with many of the sites that other show participants have been using such as One King's Lane, Haute Look , Rue La La, Ideeli, and Joss & Main. The bullish outlook for online retailing is one that is shared by many of Berk's colleagues.
     At Softline, co-founder Jason Carr said the company is dealing with 90% of the flash sites offered today. Softline is presenting at NYIGF as well.
     Also, presenting at NYIGF and Las Vegas Market is Home Source International. The company's president, Keith Sorgoloos is similarly engaged in Internet opportunities. "Areas of growth will be centered on affordable luxury and ‘better goods' showing great value that will lead the way. Channels that present that story and merchandise mix will be winners for 2012 such as the membership only flash sites."
     Covering all the basis is Richard Sherman, president at Bedford Cottage/Kenebunk Home. Sherman had "a heck of a fourth quarter," he's attending both the Las Vegas and New York shows, involved in online, including flash sites and is reasonably positive about the future. Sherman also has a succinct take on the near-term outlook: "I feel pretty good about the first six months of 2012. People need inventory."

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