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Las Vegas Market Reports Strongest Attendance in Four Years

Furniture Industry News Update - Furniture World Magazine
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World Market Center Las Vegas reported that the Winter Las Vegas Market 2013, held January 28 to February 1 , exceeded expectations as the best attended market in four consecutive years driven by an influx of both new retailers and exhibiting lines—all against the backdrop of a number of strategic initiatives aimed at enriching the marketplace. Officials with International Market Centers (IMC), who own and operate Las Vegas Market, reported impactful attendance gains amongst retailers across all categories, as well as an increase among international buyers.

“This past Winter Market set new company records for an overwhelming number of manufacturers and contributed to a renewed, positive outlook for the entire industry. I can truly say it was the best Las Vegas Market in my tenure of five years,” said Robert Maricich, CEO of International Market Centers. Maricich was thrilled by the optimism he witnessed time and again throughout the week, in particular, the tens of thousands of new products, the high attendance numbers and the widespread order writing. Maricich attributed the optimism to the improving economy and referred to the upbeat attitude as a “force multiplier.”

“We’re getting a multiplication of better business, people playing to win and better buyer attendance,” Maricich said. “With the strength of this Las Vegas Market, recently released positive national housing reports, and clear industry momentum, we feel this bodes very well for a strong Spring Market. What we saw at Market is an encouraging indicator of what’s to come in 2013.”

Attendance Trends and an Infusion of New Exhibitors

U.S. retail attendance was up six percent over a year ago building on the strongest Las Vegas Market in recent years—with thousands of buyers attending the Winter 2013 show for the first time. International buyer attendance rose five percent year over year, most notably with a 15 percent increase among buyers from Latin America and Pacific Rim, respectively, as well as an eight percent gain in Canadian buyers over a year ago.

Las Vegas Market lived up to its name as ‘Today’s Total Marketplace’ and led retailers into the first major industry event of the year for product introductions and buying in the western United States—attracting retailers from all 50 states and 74 countries. Market officials reported that several key and complementary categories performed exceptionally well at the recent show. The most notable increases came from home décor buyers, which rose 39 percent, while home textile buyers grew by 26 percent. The categories of mattress retailers and contract hospitality buyers each increased by 11 percent from a year ago. Furthermore, Las Vegas Market doubled the number of floor coverings retailers due to the strategic partnership with Surfaces Expo.

“We have long nurtured the idea of a cross-over market vis a vis this ‘total home’ view. Without question Las Vegas Market opens up new doors and distribution channels for participating manufacturers as a result of a compelling and diversified platform that is unlike anything else in the industry,” said Maricich.

He cited at the most recent market that one in ten buyers seeking gift and home décor merchandise classified their business type as a furniture or mattress store, which he says demonstrates the cross-over appeal of the marketplace. “Essentially, this traditional furniture retailer is coming to the market also looking for smaller gift and décor pieces to enhance their product mix and reach more customers on a more frequent basis. This supports the notion that retailers have evolved their merchandising approach and are using Las Vegas Market as a means to accomplish a more diversified sales strategy. It’s not product dimensional, but rather, very lifestyle, consumer-centric. It’s exciting to see new interest in our industry and evolved business models in retail.”

In addition to dramatic growth across all buyer categories, the Winter Las Vegas Market, including Gift+Home, also drew more than 1,800 exhibiting companies across 5 million square feet of space in three buildings. The 2013 Las Vegas Market welcomed 200 new brands in permanent showrooms and temporary booths spanning every category of total home. Newcomers included: 27 permanent furniture tenants; five powerhouse designer brands in the Las Vegas Design Center; 38 permanent Gift+Home tenants; along with 30 furniture temporaries located on the sold-out floor of B2; and 107 Gift+Home temporaries located on C4 and C5.

“This Market was reminiscent of a building opening in terms of traffic, new tenancy, investment and overall energy,” said Tom Mitchell, IMC’s president of home furnishings, referring to 190 building permits to construct or improve showrooms in the last few months. “Among the strategic moves we put into motion, the home furnishings division leased 630,000 square feet of new space in 2012, including the renewal of 51 leaseholders such as Broyhill, Emerald Home, Lane and other major sources; delivered significant showroom expansions for such market leaders as AICO and Coaster; and successfully relocated a number of key exhibitors to create a more efficient and effective merchandising mix in all buildings. We also created a new 100,000 square-foot destination in Building C for bedding resources, which enhances Las Vegas Market’s position as the international hub for the bedding industry.”

For many furniture exhibitors, it was an unprecedented Las Vegas Market, in both showroom traffic and order writing.

“Market was fantastic,” said Phil Haney, CEO of Lexington Home, who opened a new 50,000 square foot showroom in Building B. “Traffic started off busy and was steady. Our measured count on day one was up about 40 percent over a year ago. It has been an amazing transformation and we feel a sense of new energy. We show our outdoor product in High Point and now we’re showing in Las Vegas, so it gives us four markets a year to present the most beautiful and the only consumer brand in the category.”

Tim Ussery, VP of sales at Standard Furniture, comments on the wide reach of Las Vegas Market. “We’ve seen buyers from Florida to Washington, New York and obviously the West Coast. It’s a really big market, and I’ve noticed a strong international flair here, too. A lot of South American customers up into Central America, so it’s definitely coast to coast and you’ve got buyers coming representing the entire country. We show a lot of new product here, so our customers really enjoy coming here and getting to see what we’re developing and doing. It’s a really important market for us.”

Randi Wilson, director of sales for California-based Gotcha Covered, who showed in Building C’s new bedding destination said, “This has been the best of all the markets we have had here. We saw several people from Mexico, Russia, New Zealand that we are going to contact after market. Buyers are more serious and optimistic. Definitely more traffic due to creating a floor of all mattress suppliers.”

Design Powerhouses Debut

Four powerhouse brands within the design industry opened showrooms within Las Vegas Design Center at World Market Center in time for the Winter 2013 Las Vegas Market: Christopher Guy, Stanley Furniture, Julian Chichester/Mr. Brown and Norwalk Furniture. These four new-to-market showrooms, located on the first two floors of Building A, encompassed more than 26,000 square feet and drew tremendous buzz and traffic among the design community.

2013 is slated to be a milestone year for Las Vegas Design Center (LVDC), already regarded as the region’s premier resource for many of the best and most sought after design brands. According to Paul Watson, vice president of LVDC, “Las Vegas Design Center is currently experiencing a renaissance with the enhancement and diversification of its upper end resources to our already strong offering. These new brands each bring a unique design aesthetic and perspective to LVDC. We are thrilled to welcome each new showroom to LVDC, which is fast earning a reputation as the largest and most comprehensive design center in the west.”

These brands join the center’s existing design stars open year-round, including Robert Allen│Beacon Hill, Global Views, Four Hands, Capel Rugs, Palecek, and multi-line showroom LMS Design Group

At the new Stanley Furniture showroom in LVDC, representatives noted their pleasure at the turnout. “It's been absolutely remarkable. Traffic has been incredible and we were overwhelmed with positive response. We saw 200 buyers before noon on the first day,” said Randy Wells, vice president of North Carolina-based, upper end manufacturer Stanley Furniture. “We opened a showroom at LVDC to grow our design business for one. But the other piece of the puzzle is that this is the other half of the country. 40 percent of the furniture business and retail is west of the Mississippi, so if you’re not in Las Vegas, you’re not in the national or international furniture business. It’s really that simple. This is a world-class city that is built around hospitality, so it’s a place that given the choice is where people want to be.”

As part of its impressive design programming, Alexa Hampton—president and featured designer of Mark Hampton LLC, one of the country’s most prestigious and respected interior design firms—was named the 2013 Design Icon by IMC. Hampton joins the ranks of some of the greatest designers worldwide who have received this honor including Christopher Guy, Larry Laslo, Juan Montoya, Roger Thomas,Vincente Wolf, and Jamie Drake who are past recipients of the annual industry award.

Gift+Home’s Accelerating Momentum Fueled by Surge in New Resources and Buyers

Gift+Home at Las Vegas Market delivered a pivotal event with a surge of new retailers and suppliers—further shaping Las Vegas Market as the leading marketplace for gift and home décor in the Western U.S. The three-phase strategic evolution for Gift+Home began at the Winter 2013 Market with the debut of C3, a collection of 20 better home décor suppliers; improved density of gift resources on floors C6 and C8; reorganization of temporary exhibits into 10 categories; and the launch of a first-of-its-kind Gift & Home CEO Summit.

“Excitement and optimism at Market were palpable, with buyers and suppliers buzzing about the transformational changes introduced this Winter,” said Dorothy Belshaw, IMC’s president of Gift & Home Décor. “We recorded an unparalleled gain in gift and home décor buyer attendance. Our success in buyer attendance is directly correlated to the specialty home décor collections introduced on B3 and C3, and occupancy growth on gift floors during the past two markets. A combination of thoughtful resource expansion and targeted and compelling communication with prospective attendees enabled us to enrich both the exhibitor and buyer constituencies in tandem.”

“My expectations were fully surpassed,” added Todd Sawvelle, president and creative director of Couture Lamps, an exhibitor on the newly debuted C3. “It was a remarkable show, delivering more contacts/leads and orders than all of our previous markets - combined – since opening my business 18 months ago. 99 percent of the orders were from new customers across the West, including California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado and Hawaii. We also saw surprisingly strong attendance from Mexico - an equal mix of interior designers, design firms, design stores, and specialty furniture retailers. With continued expansion of the luxury, lifestyle-driven home décor category, Las Vegas Market will succeed in becoming the only home for home decor in the West.”

Maxine Burton, founder and president of burton+BURTON, showing for the first time in Las Vegas, said, “We are really encouraged by what we are seeing. The gift buyers are here and they are different gift buyers than we see at some of our other markets. We had been trying to decide what would be the best market on the West Coast, and feel like Vegas is the up and coming rising West Coast marketplace, and so we felt like it was the right time. There is a lot of traffic, and I think there are a lot of people that probably were not familiar with us that we were able to reach at this market.”

Dan Loughman president and CEO Roman Incorporated, also showing for the first time, says, “I have learned a lot of good things about the Las Vegas Market and how the ownership is really behind making this a successful show. I felt that this is a good time for us to get in kind of on the ground floor as this market gains momentum. There’s an overall vibe of excitement associated with this market. Buyers (in Las Vegas) are coming for furniture and home as well as a lot of the gifts. It’s a nice kind of market where we are all open at the same time with all the three buildings and they’re able to shop for something that can improve their store.”

Retailer Perceptions

Buyers across all categories were equally enthusiastic about market week in Las Vegas.

Jeff Harris, vice president of Furnitureland South, said, “This was my first Vegas market. I was impressed with the buildings, the layout, and the ease of shopping.”

Catherine David, senior VP of merchandising for Pier 1 Imports, says, “The Las Vegas show continues to be a great resource for the industry and allows us to get a lot of business done very efficiently. My time at Market this trip has been very valuable.”

Carlos Capó, VP of El Dorado Furniture, says, “I've been coming to markets since the 1970s, early 1970s— so I've seen a lot. It is the best market to shop, no question about that.”

Oscar Miskelly, owner and general buyer for Miskelly Furniture, says, “It was a great market for us! Bedding vendors were great as usual as well as other new vendors. As President of the FMG buying group, we had over 60 retailers at our symposium – retailers like Nebraska, Star Furniture , R.C.Willey, Steinhaufels and many other Top 100s.”

Salvador Jose, president of retailer Muebles Hochmann in Mexico, says, “The organization of the show is great. Las Vegas Market has grown so much that I need more time to look for more furniture and accessories.”

Sylvia and Ramon Sanchez, Owners of Habitat in Puerto Rico, commented, “The last time I attended Las Vegas Market was in 2010, so I am glad we came back. We found new providers, new great products, and high end quality. We placed so many orders and full containers. You could feel the energy. The shuttle was great, right on time, which helped us maximized our time. The food and the service were outstanding.”

In addition to packed showrooms, Las Vegas Market was bursting with energizing events and activities to stimulate buyers and designers. Focused speakers, trend-setting exhibits and networking events helped educate and prepare attendees for a year of optimism and growth.

First Look, a bi-annual seminar with HGTV personality Monica Pedersen and home products/trend editor Julie Smith, provided a glimpse of the latest trends and must-see products for the upcoming season. They led attendees on a high-speed virtual tour of new products at Las Vegas Market, including products in every category, from furniture to home decor to gifts. They told attendees to keep their eyes peeled for beautiful soft jade and nautical blue tones, mirrored accents, melodramatic shapes and finishes, zigzags and chevron stitches, gilded highlights and other innovative designs. “There is huge energy here,” said Pedersen. “People are hopeful and excited. The product is reflecting that. There is something for everyone.”

Another source of inspiration was fueled by the forward-looking trend exhibits. As thousands of buyers arrived in Building C, they were greeted with a dazzling Emerald City right here in Las Vegas. Emerald was recently named Pantone’s 2013 Color of the Year, and Las Vegas Market’s “Road to Emerald” exhibit, co-presented with Pantone and Houzz, featured products from 40 current and future Las Vegas Market tenants. These three vignettes drove 3,129 page views, 530 users tagged images to ideabooks and hundreds of comments on Houzz.com, in additional to a great deal of social media buzz and showroom traffic. Also, a local Artist Showcase on C3 –first-of-its-kind partnership between IMC and “18b,” a non-profit association representing the Las Vegas Arts District community of artists, designers, and makers—was showcased alongside a dynamic collection of home décor suppliers on C3. Las Vegas is well-known for gaming and other attractions, but the city also has a vibrant community of artists and designers.

To visit the online photo gallery for images from Las Vegas Market, visit http://www.lasvegasmarket.com/gallery/lvm-winter-2012-day-1/. To receive special updates on the Summer 2013 Las Vegas Market including registration and hotel booking information, visit www.LasVegasMarket.com.

About Las Vegas Market and International Market Centers, L.P. Las Vegas Market is an international furnishings showcase that combines style, inspiration and productivity in an unrivaled, world-class destination. Situated on World Market Center Las Vegas’ state-of-the-art campus, Las Vegas Market features a comprehensive array of new product from thousands of leading manufacturers and lines in furniture, mattress, lighting, decorative accessories, floor coverings, home textiles and more—delivering Today’s Total Marketplace. Retailers and designers can shop product offerings from trend-setters in all home furnishings categories as well as benefit from complimentary educational, networking and hospitality events. With two markets each year, Las Vegas Market is the only major home furnishings market in the western U.S. offering a unique cross-section of suppliers and buyers spanning the home furnishings, décor and gift industries. For more information, visit www.lasvegasmarket.com.

World Market Center Las Vegas is a property of International Market Centers, L.P. (IMC), the world’s largest operator of premier showroom space for the furnishings, home décor and gift industries. International Market Centers owns and operates 11.5 million square feet of world-class exhibition space in High Point, N.C. and Las Vegas. IMC’s mission is to build and operate an innovative, sustainable, profitable and scalable platform for the furnishings, home décor and gift industries. For more information on IMC, visit www.imcenters.com.

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