Traffic Down, But Business Steady At Decosit

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, September 20, 2004

Overall, the American exhibitors at Decosit reported good business activity.

And Decosit, according to some, is one home furnishings-fabric exhibition where commitments really “stick” — meaning they result in firm orders.

But from both the American perspective and that of other countries' exhibitors, attendance was down, both at Decosit and at nearby Textiles d'Interieurs Premiere (TIP).

For the Americans, the value of the dollar in relation to all other currencies encouraged visitors to take a look at companies they perhaps would not have shopped, several exhibitors remarked. For many, this “look” produced orders based more on product than dollar value, they reported.

And for other American exhibitors, renewed efforts in the export arena, as well as fine-tuning of collections shown at Decosit, produced strong results.

Geographically, exhibitors reported an evident absence of customers from the Middle East, but noted that customers from Latin America and the Philippines were back at the show. England, Australia, New Zealand and Asia continued to be at the show in significant numbers.

Interestingly, the number of American customers appears to be increasing, a phenomenon that puzzles, but also pleases, some American exhibitors. The American customers, some believe, respond to the ambience of the exhibit presentations here better than to showings in their own offices.

Robert Lachow, director of sales for J. B. Martin, noted that the acquisition of new agents over the past several years has strengthened its international business by bringing in their clients. But, he added, “We also have developed a good relationship with European jobbers for the upper part of our line, and with a few manufacturers for the mid to lower prices in our line.”

By focusing on its launch collection of WeatherWize indoor/outdoor fabrics and its silk program, Weave's President Roger Berkley called Decosit's business “just great.” Overall, he said, “U.S. mills have a more compelling look compared with the European mills.” And the strong business activity came despite “the fact that there is no question attendance is off.”

Larry Liebenow, president and CEO of Quaker Fabric, said, “This is a market where people actually buy fabrics,” adding, “our work in Europe continues to develop very nicely, broadening our reach.”

Calling its results very good, Rocco Simone, senior vice president at Sunbury, broke down the day-by-day performance. “Saturday was spectacular, Sunday slow, Monday very good and Tuesday slow.”

The company brought 85 new fabric designs that had not been shown anywhere as a major launch event. In addition, “Sunbrella is increasing in Europe. It's a brand name that is meaningful both indoors and out.”

Simone added, “There were virtually no customers from the Middle East, but the Far East was strong.”

For Valdese, “We had an incredibly strong response to our line both from our core international customers and the new customers who came to see our line because of our renewed export effort,” said Mike Shelton, president.

Roger Gilmartin, executive vice president at Covington Industries, said, “Saturday was the biggest single day we have ever had at Decosit — almost 50 percent more than any previous opening day.” In fact, he added, when the results all are tallied, “This may be the biggest Decosit in the company's history.”

Noting that traffic was “lighter,” Irwin Gasner, president of Wearbest Siltex, said, “We wrote more business by Sunday morning that we did in the entire 2003 show.” Key market areas for the company were Japan, the Philippines, South American, New Zealand and some from Saudi Arabia, England and the United States.

From a non-American exhibitor perspective, “The show was slow, there were less people, but overall, it was not bad,” said Nicola Colangelo of Magniareddo, based in Italy.

At TIP, Asif Kamai of Woodson, based in India, said, “Traffic was much less than last year, but the show was good for us. We did business with people we already were with and had lots of inquiries.”

Chhapeeria of Vinayak, based in India, said, “While we wrote business, it was quieter than last year. There was not enough traffic.”

For American Decorative Fabrics, showing under the name of its European arm, “It was really slow,” said Jack Cobb, ADF president. “Buyers do TIP after they shop Decosit.”

Calling it “an interesting and challenging time,” Andy Green, new managing director of TIP, said, “Attendance is about the same as in 2003. Bookings are very good.”

Bill Davis, TIP chairman, added, “The show has been okay, reflecting conditions in the marketplace.” He added that he is considering a home furnishings fabric show in Shanghai in November with European and Asian exhibitors.

Traffic at Decosit was equal to 2003 but spaced more evenly across the four-day duration, said Patrick Geysels, managing director of Decosit. “The show was good,” he said, referring to reports from exhibitors.

Responding to comments about the admission of two mills from China, Geysels likened the situation to a similar one 10 years ago with the admission of companies from Turkey. “This is similar to our Turkey strategy, we do it step by step. Turkey now has 14 exhibitors.”

Geysels admitted, “We took a risk, but we are giving the sign to the market that we are a world show that brings the world together.” He added, “We have standards and the companies involved agreed to abide by them. If by the end of the fair, we have no copying problems, for example, it will prove the standards work.”

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