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Change In Market Dates Creates Buzz

New York — Suppliers exhibiting here during last week’s low-key and unofficial Mini-Market generally applauded the upcoming shift in market dates, although many worried about how they will handle next year’s schedule — which proceeds along traditional lines in the first half of the year and changes over in late summer.

Next year’s showroom gatherings in New York include a traditional Winter Mini-Market beginning Feb. 5, a spring market in conjunction with the New York Home Textiles Show at the Javits Center beginning March 31, and the new fall market show beginning Aug. 4.

“Next August will be bumpy because we’re cutting two months off the cycle. We’ll have to work earlier and faster, and next August we may only be able to come out with 10 to 15 designs rather than 20,” said Rick Lipton, director of bath coordinates for Baltic Linen.

One other point of concern, said Corey Faul, president of Newport/Layton Home Fashions, is that retailers will continue to expect previews — regardless of market timing.

“For August, we’ll have to preview late June or early July. It isn’t going to be easy next year,” he said.

Larry Price, director of U.S. sales for Hilasal, noted that June/July previews will conflict with his company’s beach towel business schedule.

“I understand retailers need to change the dates, and in the end it will work out better for us. But it will take some transitioning,” he said.

In 2007, market timing will shift entirely, with the New York Home Textiles Market kicking off on the first Friday of February and the first Friday of August. Among the nearly three dozen suppliers polled by HTT at last week’s market, most supported the change.

“It’s a realistic reflection of how the market works today,” said Kaela Forker, vice president of sales, American Pacific. “Having market in April and October was way too late and not very practical for any of the fashion companies.”

Shay Zamir, executive vice president of merchandising, Divatex, believes that once the schedule fully changes, suppliers will have more time to deal with their product lines.

“In August, you still have three crucial months left to get orders in. I think the shift will light a fire under the industry next year,” he said.

Aussino USA President Stephen Lewis said the new dates “will bring more meaning to the market.” He added, “I hope the customer will appreciate the shift in market because it will be about placing for the correct season and newness rather than just a review of new product.”

Barbara Wright, vice president, Veratex, offered: “Our industry is out of synch with the buyers. They’ve almost demanded minimarkets, which is why we have been participating in recent years.”

But the praise was not universal.

“We can adjust our production cycles, but can we impact retailers’ buying patterns?” asked Pavan Uttam, vice president, Milli Home. “Are they going to change when they have monies available to place orders?”

For Stellar Alliance — parent company of Dormisette — balancing obligations in the beginning of the year will be tricky because the company exhibits at Heimtextil in Frankfurt in January.

“I think the August market makes a lot of sense for the industry, but I’m not really sure about the February market,” said Alen Sands York, president. “But we are developing all year long and show a year in advance.”

Revman President and CEO Rich Roman, who favors the new dates, pointed out that the change won’t drastically alter the larger trends affecting the market.

“There won’t be more traffic. If anything, there might be less because of all the consolidation going on,” Roman said.

Baltic’s Lipton offered a bottom line positive for the new schedule. “People will know how to pack better. February we know is very cold in New York and August is very hot.”

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