Main Menu
In the News
Special Contributors
Special Report - Bedding
Events Calendar
Contact HGO
2015 Product Guide
Merchandiser Spring 2015
Merchandiser Winter 2015
Research Store

Canada Counts
A survey of Canadian buying intentions.
Purchase Report


Gibbard Furniture to close next year PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael J. Knell   

NAPANEE, Ontario - After 173 years, the Gibbard Furniture Shoppes of Napanee, Canada's oldest furniture maker and one of the oldest continuously operating companies in North America will close its doors sometime early next year, the latest victim of a surging Canadian dollar, increased competition from Asian imports and the inability to find new owners.

Company president Bruce McPherson, Jr. broke the news to the company's 90 or so remaining employees last Friday. Many of them had been working in the plant for 35 or 40 years. "Friday was very emotional," he said. "Telling them was the toughest part of this thing."

The McPherson family, which has owned Gibbard since 1940, decided to put up the company up for sale in June 2007 in the hopes that new investment and management would give the traditional high-end heirloom case goods producer a renewed marketing and product strategy and with that the chance to survive. "However, we learned that trying to sell a furniture factory in the current environment is a pretty difficult thing to do," McPherson said in a telephone interview.

The family also wanted it to remain in Canadian hands.

McPherson said there had some interest expressed, but the right offer never appeared. "We've been told it's quite a complement to get that considering the way things are," McPherson said.

However, continuing decline sales forced the company to make a decision. "We couldn't keep waiting and waiting," McPherson said.

At one time, Gibbard had a network of 107 retailers across the country, including Eaton's, which was counted once - even though it had almost 100 stores across the country at one time. Gibbard was on the floor at every Eaton's with a furniture department.

Currently, Gibbard has approximately 60 active retail accounts. All were told about the closure after the employees were told. One of Gibbard's largest and most consistent customers has been the federal government. Gibbard signature cherry and mahogany furniture is featured in almost every Canadian embassy around the world.

"Quality is what we've hung our hat on all these years," McPherson said, adding he still receives two or three telephone or e-mails every week from a consumer wanting information about how to care for a Gibbard piece they inherited from a family member. Often the piece was made before the Second World War.

Some items in Gibbard's line - such as Canadian Legacy - have been best sellers for a half-century or more.

The shutdown will be staggered as the company will fill existing orders. "We put in our final cutting two weeks ago. That will balance our inventory," McPherson said. "We should be able to move our remaining inventory fairly well."

Although Gibbard is still operating its showroom at the International Centre in Toronto, no decision has yet been made about whether the company will be open during next January's Canadian Home Furnishings Market. McPherson said that decision will be based on sales over the next couple of months.

The company was founded in 1835 by John Gibbard, a Canadian-born cabinet-maker who leased a mill on a canal that still runs through the property.

In its early days, it was known as the Gibbard Cabinet Shop and in addition to making furniture, it was also known for its doors and coffins. The original mill burned down in 1864 and was rebuilt four years later.

A second fire ravaged the business in 1974, but the plant was rebuilt in less than a year.

<Previous   Next>



Please, update your HGO profile

BRIGHTON, Ontario – To improve the efficiency of our newsletter delivery service and to bring ourselves in alignment with current Canadian legislation, we need our loyal readers to update their profiles.

If you’re in big ticket home goods, you can’t be without Home Goods Online – the only business-to-business news and information service for those working in Canada’s furniture, mattress, major appliance and consumer electronics industries.

Update Your Profile Now
Picture of the Day
CNW Salvation donation (PD30Jul15)

Some 120 people from across the industry took part in the recent annual golf tournament hosted by Cantrex Nationwide at the Copper Creek Golf Course in Kleinberg, Ontario, just north of Toronto. As has become its usual practise the event benefits a local charity, in this case the Salvation Army. At right, Jeannine Ghaleb, CNW’s president and COO is seen presenting a cheque for $10,000 to the army’s Captain Rick Zelinsky.



Donald Cooper
My Turn!
HGO Merchandiser
Upcoming Events
There are no upcoming events within the search range currently scheduled.
View Full Calendar