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  • Jennifer Marks

Hospitality Segment Beckons

The most frequently asked question in conversations lately: "Who's doing well in home?"

In the big box retail world, nobody.

Here's a sampling of headlines from last week's HTT Extra e-newsletter:

  • Soft home, national brands downtrend at Kohl's

  • Big Lots big Fishman slams home textiles sameness

  • Home missing out on Wal-Mart gains

  • Textiles weaken at Tuesday Morning

And so on.

But as noted in Carole Sloan's page 1 story on the upcoming HD Expo in Las Vegas, the $109 billion lodging business stands out as a bright spot in the home furnishings industry.

(To see photos of textiles introductions that will be taking place at the show, visit hospitalityfurnishingstoday.com/textile.html. The site also includes information on the green trend in hospitality, as well as stories about how suppliers in the furniture, home accents and outdoor furnishing segments are approaching the industry.)

Hospitality, as suppliers from several sectors of the home furnishings industry note, is a unique selling proposition.

"The reality is that the contract business is a very different animal from the retail channels that we are currently selling," said Bob Ulrich, vp of sales for Currey & Company, a home accents supplier, in one of the articles on the hospitalityfurnishings site. "The product requirements, sales collateral materials and the internal support necessary to actively pursue contract business must be treated as a business and not an 'add on' if you are to be successful."

Despite the economic downturn, "hotels are still pretty confident," according to Peter Homestead, vp of design and marketing for Tropitone Furniture, which focuses on pieces for poolside in the hospitality business.

In addition, hotels appear to be far more dedicated to buying green products than the average box at the strip mall.

"They seem to be wrapping their arms around it much quicker than the residential side," said Kevin Crahan, furniture maker Flexsteel Hospitality's vp of sales and marketing. Tax credits for green products also are a motivation, he noted.

Hospitality is also very much a global business, with hotel development mushrooming in India, China, Thailand and smaller regions of Asia as well as in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which Fortune magazine calls "the richest city in the world."

There is a big world out there beyond the suburban shopping center. And it's as good a time as any to go exploring.

Other Home Furnishings Sites

Casual Living
Gifts and Decorative Accessories
Home Accents Today
Kids Today
Furniture Today