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Fabric firms enjoy Hospitality show

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, May 13, 2002

It was a terrific market, whether you were an exhibitor or a supplier to exhibitors at Hospitality Design Expo 2002.

The visitors, whether specifiers, designers, owners or purchasing agents, appeared to be moving ahead with purchases for hospitality areas.

It was a very busy show with representatives from the very largest hotel chains to mom-and-pop hotels, most fabric exhibitors agreed. And as important as the traffic was the mood. "It was very upbeat," said Gerry Kane, principal of Samelson-Chatelane. "We saw designers, owners, purchasing agents, and we did a lot of business."

Also important to Kane was that "our Tussah fabric — a flame-retardant polyester that looks like a raw silk in 30 colors — won 'best of show' even with competition from the high-end design houses like Brunschwig et Fils."

A significant edge for this year's show, according to Joe Feege, executive vp of sales for Valdese, "was the number of principals from the specifiers and design firms that attended." Specifiers are now releasing projects that had been on hold when hotel attendance began to drop last year. "There's lots of interest in jacquards for bedding, and either bold colors or vintage colors."

"It was an incredibly attended show," related Mark Grigalunas, senior vp, styling and design for Sunbury. "It was far more than anyone expected. It even took me more than an hour to register."

"But it was amazing," he noted. "All of our customers were featuring our Crypton fabric products." Another interesting development at this show, Grigalunas observed, was "that there are a lot more outdoor furniture people showing for the hotel market. It's like going to a small casual furniture market."

Sunbury, like Quaker and Valdese, among others, is a supplier to many of the fabric companies exhibiting. The level of exhibitors included the blue bloods of the fabric world — such as Scalamandre, Brunschwig and Clarence House; designer showroom/converters, like Robert Allen and Kravet; and converters like Covington, Richloom, Lanscot-Arlen, P/Kaufmann and Samelson-Chatelane. Fabric companies specializing in the contract world included Design Tex, Maharam, Peachtree and Valley Forge.

For Richloom, the show was "wonderful, very active for two full days," said Bruce Resch, manager, contract sales. Even with "a tremendous number of fabric exhibitors, we did a great business."

A significant point for Shelly Delsack, senior vp, corporate communications for the Robert Allen Group, was that "people were very decisive about the direction they were following and the value and the ability of suppliers to deliver."

The company had two well-received lines — the Chelsea Square and South Beach Collections, Delsack remarked. "Designers today are looking for packages — not coordinates, but patterns in prints and wovens that are companions."

Another change that Delsack observed "is that there is more reliance on suppliers for timing of deliveries and cost. Both the procurement companies and the design channels are going in this direction."

The upbeat mood was impressive to Maria Pardo, national sales manager, contract for Covington Inds., who said, "projects on hold are opening up; there's been a strong pickup since January.

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