Dec Fabrics Exhibitors See Light Traffic

Carole Sloan, January 17, 2005

Frankfurt, Germany — Competition from Asian fabric suppliers and a definite overall traffic decline had significant influences on the decorative fabrics exhibitors at Heimtextil here last week.

For some among the declining ranks of American exhibitors, business was not bad; others, however, reported significant order writing declines compared with recent years.

For the two American companies with Chinese ownership, Heimtextil was an important plus.

“It has been better than I expected,” said David Li, principal of American Decorative Fabrics. “We had a terrific response to our line, many new customers and good orders.”

At American Century Home, the show was an opportunity to attract many new international agents, noted Jason Jiang, owner. Outside of the United States, where it has a strong cut-and-sew program from China, the company focuses on its fabric business, Jiang said. And agents will be the key to making business grow, he added.

“Wednesday (opening day) was very busy. Later traffic came in spurts — but overall it has been good for us,” explained David Klariskenfeld, vice president of Fabricut.

“We're preselling two programs which we typically don't — Vervain and S. Harris Hues — which has been important,” he added.

Lee Silberman, senior vice president of Duralee, said, “There's been a fair amount of traffic, and we've been busy.” Highland Court, the company's “super-high-priced fabric collection,” has been the driving force for export,” he observed, and Eastern Europe is the company's fastest growing export market.

“It's been a different feeling from years past,” Arnie Masarsky, export manager for Kravet, noted. “We've had steady traffic, although it has been lighter. I'm positive but conservative in my assessment.”

Trevor Halliwell, owner of England's Prestigious Fabrics, noted, “Traffic is a bit less, there seem to be fewer from the Middle East and more from Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia.”

Calling traffic “steady not packed,” Stewart Jervis, vice president of Crestmont, added, “I've been pleasantly surprised.”

“Traffic has been light,” observed Tom Leahy, vice president, Waverly, “but we've made a lot of new contacts.” The company returned to Heimtextil after a year's hiatus when it showed in a nearby hotel. Overall, Leahy said, “We see a definite renewal in interest in prints and bright color.”

“It's been sparse in traffic and not much business” was the assessment of Harry Blumenthal, president of Blumenthal. The company also was looking for supplier sources and agents which proved more effective, he said.

“It's not good, but we wrote some orders,” noted Warren Leshen, president of Dukane who added, “Our goods don't look Chinese.”

“I was surprised and pleased that we had a great first day,” said Stan Fradin, president of Roc-Lore, who added, “We had a big December export surge unexpectedly, so I was concerned it would affect Heimtex.”

Larry Liebenow, president of Quaker, noted, “Business and traffic is about the same as last year. But Heimtex has changed the adjacencies of companies that make no sense.”

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