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Decosit/TIP traffic down

A lower visitor attendance base, a lack of impact of the dollar's value and the conflict with the Jewish High Holy Days did little to sour the exhibitors at last week's concurrent Decosit, DecoContract and Textiles d'Interieur Premiere (TIP).

While many admitted that these events were not outstanding in terms of business, most exhibitors were positive in their analyses of why they were here and the kind of business they wrote.

Almost unanimously, the exhibitors said that the ebullient days of the 1990s were long gone and that fabric shows like this trio were important not just to attract new customers but for presence — a critical piece of global trading.

Product enhancement and differentiation in terms of quality, design and color were the key differences between positive and negative results from the show, many related.

Another important element for those thinking positively was the spread of the geographical reach for some companies.

Standing out from most of those American exhibitors that termed the shows "fair" or "not awful" was Rocco Simone, senior vp, of Sunbury, who said, "We had bets among us about the amount of sales in terms of pieces of fabric and dollars. And the results blew those estimates away."

Overall, Simone added, "We had restrained expectations, and the results were good. We didn't get a lot of customers from the Middle East — but a lot from South America and Australia. Our new constructions and our 11 new warp colors helped."

Larry Liebenow, president and ceo, Quaker, had similar thoughts. "We had the best Decosit we had in several years. The attendance in our stand and the written orders were very good."

But, he noted, "as I walked the halls, it was not as active as it should be." As for his international business, "I think we're taking market share because of our product and our global structure. What we tend to sell well internationally is the mid to upper end of our lines."

An interesting element in the overall picture was the apparent uptick in the print segment of the fabric business. Said John Ringer, vp, sales for Richloom, "The show was fair at best, but customers from Australia and Europe were definitely looking more at prints."

Arthur Friedman, vp of Waverly, added, "Prints created more interest both in new and old collections. As for global business, we're ahead in Europe vs. 2001."

Noting that "the customer mix for us has been more like Heimtex than Decosit, the week has been excellent," said Anne Swaffer, principal in British-based Anne & Robert Swaffer. "We seem to be spreading our global reach with customers here from China, Peru, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Norway. And the important thing has been the strong interest in prints, with our Java design being the major winner."

At American Silk, "it was okay until Monday, and then it was flurries," explained Robin Slough, sales director. "We saw the people who are important to us — and more Asians and lots of Australians."

Coen Tolboom, sales manager for Netherlands-based Swinkels, said, "We are very positive about the show. The quantity of people definitely was down, but we're very pleased with the results."

Looking at results from a different perspective was Stan Fradin, president of Roc-Lon, who noted, "We did okay — a little down from last year; but we began a year-long merchandising program at Heimtex, so those customers have no opening for product."

At TIP, a new location provided pluses and minuses, exhibitors noted.

Said B.K. Rathnakara of Bharat, "The show was better than last year. The new location is good. It's better in every way."

Patrick Geysels, the director of Decosit/DecoContract for the past 10 years, said it is the "first time that all the global economies have been down at once. Usually if some are down, others are stable or up.

"But I am not a pessimist. There's lots of opportunity if companies invest in themselves and their creativity. They will become winners."

Addressing the DecoContract situation, Geysels admitted, "We didn't reach our goal of equaling last year's exhibitor base for all of those economic reasons. Companies were not taking risks. But our ambitions for the future remain, and we still see that we need three to five years to make DecoContract on track."

As for TIP, Bill Davis, director, pointed to the new venue that many exhibitors have endorsed positively as well as the 124 exhibitors at this year's event — a record number.

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