Colorful fresh prints light up at Showtime
July 21, 2003-- Home Textiles Today,
High Point, NC — There's a glimmer of optimism for the home furnishings business for the balance of the year.
Buyers and exhibitors at Showtime Summer 2003 last week qualified their assessments by adding that no one expects the second half to be a barn burner — more likely a gentle uptick across more retail channels.
In fact, a number of exhibitors reported that some of their customers here were talking about sales increases in the last several weeks.
And for converters in particular, there appeared to be a slight upsurge in the decorative print business across all channels. That trend was reinforced by the garb of the attendees, many of whom wore prints.
The China issue that dominated conversations at earlier Showtimes has now become an accepted situation, and one that impacts the U.S. fabric producers in their dealings with the home textiles world more than other distribution channels.
"It's been good," said Roger Gilmartin, executive vp, Covington Inds., who added, "No one is opening a vein; the future is one of cautious optimism."
And equally as significant, Gilmartin added, is that "prints are no longer a dirty word. We made a conscious effort — in prints and across the line — to give more color and freshness, and it's been well received."
"We had a really good reaction to our line from both retailers and furniture manufacturers, especially our Island Life and Southern Charm collections," said Arthur Friedman, Waverly vp. Overall, Showtime was strong for the company, with nearly 120 appointments scheduled.
"It's been good, brisk," stated Mike Rice, executive vp, Barrow Inds. He added, "A number of customers said business picked up in the past few weeks." On the other hand, because of the China equation, "home textiles suppliers are reexamining their efforts."
For TFA, whose acquisition by Associated Textiles was announced earlier this month, "The week was phenomenal -— retailers wrote on the spot ‚ but no one's saying it's great out there," said Michael Day, vp.
Despite pegging the home textiles market "as extremely difficult and highly competitive," Mike Shelton, president of Valdese, said, "This is the best Showtime we've ever had. Our design and marketing team did an exceptional job."
Overall, Shelton remarked, "more than not there's been some improvement in business. Jobbers are buying new product, which is a positive business indicator; we have strong placements in retail, furniture is still tough, and contract is still in the doldrums, but we've gained market share."
For American Decorative Fabrics, "the show was very strong, and it was that way across all distribution channels," said Gary Stein, coo.
"There was a good positive attitude, and the tempo and mood were upbeat," explained Tom Notaro, director of sales for Wearbest. "Our appointment bookings were up, and we offered more diverse product for our non-furniture customers."
Analyzing the apparent drop in attendance, Larry Liebenow, president/ceo of Quaker, observed, "Attendance was dispersed among the furniture manufacturers because of the lateness of Showtime. There were a lot of showings in Hickory, NC, the week before." Nonetheless the general attitude was pretty good. "Our customers' business is OK, not brilliant, but everyone is hopeful for fall. We had great response to innovation, new constructions and color. It's precisely what's needed to come out of a less than brilliant market."
Jack Eger, vp, Craftex and outgoing president of Showtime organizer International Textile Market Association, noted, especially, "in the home textiles world, more and more retailers are coming in with their major suppliers to shop fabrics."
Evaluating the marketplace in general, Eger said, "People are optimistic. Retailers are writing and making decisions faster. We've been overbooked since Sunday, and we've seen more California representation."
At American Decorative Fabrics, "We did more business than we expected in bedding," said Tom Finneran, president, and "decorative pillows and furniture also were strong."
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