Fabric suppliers see regionalization of NY show

Janice Chamberlain, Carole Sloan, November 27, 2000

NEW YORK -Decorative fabrics exhibitors gave high marks to the International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Supply Show held here earlier this month.

But they also noted that there seems to be a regionalization of this event, which takes place here annually in November at the Javits Convention Center, as the Las Vegas Hospitality Design show increases in importance during the spring.

And while there's been only slight slippage in new construction, the marketplace is extremely competitive. If there is a slowdown, it definitely is not at the upper end of the hotel world, exhibitors reported.

Nonetheless, with 2,000 exhibitors and 60,000 visitors, "there still was a 3 percent attendance increase over '99," said Barry Baron, vp, Robert Allen Contract. "We were very busy. And it's an interesting show. It attracts a different customer than Vegas-owners of hotels as well as designers. There also was a very big Air Force presence."

But, Baron pointed out, from the decorative aspect of the hospitality business-the fabrics, furniture, home textiles products, rugs, etc.-"there are 53 converters showing in Vegas."

Saying the Las Vegas show was "a more focused event and the design community can accomplish more, we still had a quality audience here," said Curtis Breedlove, vp, P/Kaufmann and director of contract sales. One segment of the business that Breedlove would like to see grow is attendees from the international contingent.

Overall, Breedlove explained, "there has been a choppiness in business in the last 60 days in contract as well as in the rest of the business."

"It was a good show for us, with about 250 visitors to our space," said Bruce Resch, manager of contract sales for Richloom. One reason, he felt, is that the fabric exhibitors were moved closer together, "not right next to each other. But it made it easier for customers to walk the show." But overall traffic, he said, "didn't have a tremendous West Coast representation."

As for contract business compared with the rest of the economy, he said that "the hotel end, especially the upper-end hotels, are not feeling the economic pinch."

For Fabricut, "there definitely is the beginning of an East/West show division for the hospitality market," said David Haseley, vp, sales. Despite this trend "it was a good show. But with Vegas expanding next year, it will be at least as design-driven as New York," he said.

From a business perspective, Haseley sees "a certain slowdown in the mid range of hotel construction. But it's still good in the high range. And for us, it should continue strong because we do a lot of refurbs-there's always a need for changing the window and bed coverings."

For Arnold Grodman, vp, contract for Kravet, the absence of the West Coast customers was noticeable at this month's event. "Vegas is more focused; the show here is moving too much toward restaurant, supplies, and those areas vs. home furnishings," he said.

With an expanded space and relocation within the complex, Gary Rosenthal, managing director, sales for the Techstyle business of Duralee, termed the show "very good." But he concurred with the consensus: "It is more and more a regional show," he said.

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