Inaugural July 2005 Las Vegas MarketSM Declared Success Among Industry
Furniture World Magazine
The highly anticipated inaugural Las Vegas Market at World Market Center debuted July 25-29, 2005 by delivering extraordinary buyer traffic and a first class market experience beyond expectations. World Market Center, developed by World Market Center, LLC and The Related Companies, LP, is the largest new trade show complex in the country connecting all categories of the home and hospitality furnishings industry, including furniture, home accent, lighting, rugs, floor coverings, wall décor, floral, outdoor, bedding, mattresses, home textiles, gift, table top and more.
“This is the realization of a dream that has been five years in the making,” said Jack Kashani and Shawn Samson, co-founders and managing partners of World Market Center. “Not only did we deliver on the promise of a new vision for the industry, but we exceeded even our own expectations for the inaugural market. The industry has spoken and Las Vegas Market is the market of the future. We are grateful to our entire world class team for making this vision a reality, and we thank the industry for their overwhelming support. We are committed more than ever to fulfilling the totality of our vision, and along with our team, will work tirelessly to unveil the entire 12 million square foot campus on an accelerated basis.”
On opening day, Kashani and Samson, along with their partners Marty Burger and Ron Wackrow of The Related Companies, proudly welcomed attendees to the first Las Vegas Market with a spectacular ribbon cutting event. The opening ceremonies were held in the rotunda and featured a presentation by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman who declared the event as “a defining moment for Las Vegas,” and was followed by a grand opening celebration held on every floor of the 10-story complex.
An Unprecedented Debut
Exceeding all industry projections, Las Vegas Market attracted 62,000 attendees based on pre-registration and on-site registration figures for the inaugural event. With 1,200 exhibiting companies filling 2.5 million square feet of permanent and temporary exhibition space in three venues, Las Vegas Market was the largest show launch in U.S. history for any industry trade show.
Domestic attendance at the inaugural show covered all 50 states, with the following ten states delivering the heaviest traffic: California, Nevada, Texas, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Illinois, New York, Washington and Utah.
International attendance included representatives from 83 countries making the first Las Vegas Market a truly global event. In addition to attracting overseas buyers, a major initiative for show organizers was to infuse meaningful international “content and community” into Las Vegas Market, especially since the vast majority of U.S. buyers do not regularly attend home furnishings trade fairs overseas. Therefore strategic partnerships were formed with Messe Frankfurt and Koelnmesse to bring highlights of their European shows – Heimtextil, Ambiente and IMM Cologne, respectively – to Las Vegas. Together with Interior Lifestyle USA, the “show within a show” that ran parallel at Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas Market proudly hosted 161 international exhibitors which represents more than 12% of the total exhibiting companies.
Last week’s Las Vegas Market was a welcome addition to the city’s annual convention lineup for the month of July, which is typically a slower season for the tourism industry. Las Vegas Market generated well over 100,000 room nights for the city of Las Vegas, including the room nights attendees booked within the show’s host hotel block consisting of 18 properties.
The market’s free and continuous shuttle transportation program, which included vehicles shared with the collocated Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers (AWFS), ran 120 shuttles during the peak hours between 18 host hotels, Las Vegas Convention Center and World Market Center.
The total number of media registrations reached an impressive number with more than 350 members of the press from over 146 agencies worldwide taking part in the inaugural event.
New Buyers, New Products and Record Sales
The home furnishings industry buzz leading up to the inaugural Las Vegas Market was transformed into an air of excitement as buyers made their way through the showrooms and exhibits during the five-day market. Attendees lauded the state-of-the-art venue and amenities as they shopped new product and contributed to record sales for several suppliers.
The vast majority of Las Vegas Market exhibitors expressed their excitement in the quality of retailers and number of new buyers they were meeting, and how it translated into unprecedented showroom traffic, higher than expected sales and incremental business.
“We are pleased with the stellar reviews from exhibitors, buyers, industry observers, and the media which have established World Market Center as an overwhelming success for the global home furnishings industry,” commented Gerry Sawyer, Chief Operating Officer of World Market Center. “Moving forward, we are confident that we will deliver to our exhibitors and buyers the type of experience that will sustain the high level of energy and productivity at Las Vegas Market.”
Among the leading exhibiting companies who reported impressive traffic was Ron Wanek, Chairman of Ashley Furniture Industries, who said attendance was 50% ahead of traffic on any opening day in High Point.
According to Jeff Cook, President of Magnuseen Home, the number of buyers coming through the showroom set a one day record for the company, and many of those dealers were buying. “We wrote our first order at 8:15 a.m. (Monday) and it continued all day. We’re flying a couple more people in today to help handle the traffic.” 2
According to Harvey Dondero, Chief Executive Officer of Broyhill, “We had more appointments going into this market than we expected. The impressive part was the fact that these dealers – and many more – showed up and actually bought. The quality of the traffic and the amount of new buyers we saw will have meaningful impact on our business. This market proved itself as much more than a regional event. I believe Las Vegas has the potential to develop into a very important international market center.”
Canadian-based manufacturer Dinec was off to an unbelievably fast start in Las Vegas. Pat Gervais, Chief Executive Officer of Dinec said, “The number of visitors who came to buy has clearly exceeded our expectations. Opening day set a record and our order book is now expected to grow over the next few months. Many factors explain this success, among which our product line and the fact that we carefully chose our location some two and half years before the building’s construction.”
Record-breaking reports filled the main building of World Market Center, and the action was as strong at the temporary venues as well. Mark Phillips, owner of The Phillips Collection, a high-end decorative accessory company with a temporary exhibit at the Las Vegas Convention Center commented that: “We’re seeing more and more traffic everyday and I’m overwhelmed. We did more business Tuesday than we did in one week at any other market. Buyers are extremely qualified here, and in Las Vegas, the average order value is higher than any other venue we show at in the U.S. We’ve seen new buyers in the West and a surprising number from Texas. There’s also a good South American presence of buyers, including Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico.”
Buyers were equally satisfied with the experience at Las Vegas Market expressing excitement over the category diversity at each venue, the ease of getting around and the new product introductions among the exhibiting companies.
Jeff Child, President of R.C. Willey commented: “Overall, it was a very successful market with a great building that was very easy to shop. The whole event certainly generated a lot of excitement in the industry, which was something that we needed. Everyone went out of their way to accommodate us and we were very pleased to see that most of the vendors brought new products, which was great, and we even met a few vendors that we don’t see at other markets.”
The AWFS show opened at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Wed. July 27, and the events’ collocation allowed World Market Center to give attendees and exhibitors the opportunity to visit both shows. The two events brought distinct, yet complementary, elements of the furniture industry together from equipment and supplies, to the manufactured end product available for retail distribution. It was the first time that the entire range of the furniture industry spectrum met concurrently and adjacently in collocated international events.
An Industry Re-energized and the Future of Las Vegas Market
World Market Center has created a new sense of purpose for the industry which not only manifested itself in big buying but also generated change on an emotional level. A visible and contagious excitement permeated the air during last week’s Las Vegas Market, which many in the industry say they hadn’t seen in decades.
Many buyers said the state-of-the-art venue and new product combined with hospitality of Las Vegas has made this among the most enjoyable markets they’ve attended in years, while exhibitors reported Las Vegas has given the industry a much-needed boost both in sales and image.
“Attendees of our market were truly inspired, and have shared that Las Vegas marks the beginning of a new era for the home furnishings industry. We believe this positive state-of-mind certainly played a role in terms of the record-setting orders our exhibitors experienced last week,” said Dave Palmer, General Manager of World Market Center. “All of the companies showing at our market deserve much of the credit for re-igniting the fire. The manufacturers contributed to this powerful movement by introducing beautiful showrooms, fantastic new products and an easy experience for attendees. They’ve absolutely given the buyers a reason to come back.”
Gene Hodges, President of furniture manufacturer Master Design, said “The buyers are really enjoying themselves here in Las Vegas. It’s easy to travel, hotel rates are reasonable, food is very good and the city knows how to treat its guests. Coming to Las Vegas to work, sell and buy is simply a good value for both vendors and buyers. World Market Center has regenerated the industry and has made market fun again. I strongly think Las Vegas is poised for success.”
“It gives us great satisfaction that Las Vegas Market generated so much positive energy and has, in one short week, created a whole new perspective for the industry amongst exhibitors and buyers alike,” said Samson. “We have received numerous reports of significant incremental business written here. So Las Vegas Market has actually increased the profitability of many of our exhibitors and enhanced their bottom line results. All of this is consistent with our vision for the last five years of building a state-of-the-art international platform for the industry to compete successfully in the global economy. For the first time, buyers and exhibitors are the stars of the show, and World Market Center is the stage upon which they will shine in the 21st century.”
Looking ahead to the future, Jack Kashani announced accelerated development plans, “Given the avalanche of support and demand for space, we along with our partners at The Related Companies have decided to shorten the construction schedule to seven years – from 10 years – for the development of the entire 12 million square foot campus. At the same time we have expanded the size of the next couple of buildings to address the backlog of demand. Upon completion, this will be the standard bearer for the industry and a world class facility that the industry will be proud of.”
The rebirth of the home furnishings industry is supported by another rebirth – that of downtown Las Vegas. Pre-development plans are underway on a site across the street from World Market Center, in which The Related Companies, LP, has been selected as the proposed developer by the City of Las Vegas to develop the 61-acre parcel. The site is designed to become one of the nation’s premier mixed-use urban centers offering high rise residential, office, retail, hotel, restaurants, a performing arts complex, a new City Hall and more. With the depth and breadth of its components, such a large scale project will expand the amenities and support infrastructure for market attendees, as well as draw tourists and residents of Las Vegas.
Marty Burger, President of Related Las Vegas, along with Ron Wackrow comments, “World Market Center not only represents a turning point for the industry, but also a turning point for the community of Las Vegas. We are proud to play a role in reshaping the future of downtown, and feel we are building iconic projects that, once developed, will truly be a ‘city within a city’ in which visitors and residents can work, live and play.”
The next Las Vegas Market will take place Jan. 30 – Feb. 3, 2006. On-line registration and hotel bookings will commence in the coming weeks.