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Cantrex, dRSG and Mega set to make presence felt at 2012 TCHFM PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael J. Knell   

TORONTO (09 January 2012) - The buying groups will have a strong presence at this weekend's Canadian Home Furnishings Market (TCHFM), accounting not just for a large share of the retail buyer attendance but an equally important share of the orders written by participating exhibitors throughout 2012.

TCHFM 2012 will open at the International Centre here this coming Saturday (January 14) and run until January 17.

According to Statistics Canada there were about 2,700 ‘non-chain' or independent furniture stores operating in this country at the end of 2009 - the last year for which figures are available. The combined furniture buying membership of the four major industry buying groups, which includes Cantrex, Mega, Dufresne Retail Solutions Group (dRSG) and Home Furniture, is estimated at about 1,300 stores. Approximately 2,100 furniture stores - both independent and chain - are expected to attend TCHFM when it opens for its annual four-day run on Saturday.

Although specific numbers couldn't been determined, anywhere between 700 and 900 group member stores should be found in the halls of the International Centre after spending most of Thursday and Friday in meetings with the groups' senior executives and merchandisers being briefed on their plans for the coming year. This means the groups will continue to account for the single largest block of TCHFM attendees.

dRSG

For dRSG director Steve Braniff, TCHFM is his group's most important annual function as it's here where they kick-off their programs and promotions for the year. "We'll have really good attendance this year - we even have a new member from British Columbia coming who hasn't been to Toronto for more than a decade," he said. "We usually have 90% attendance from our members."

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Steve Braniff
At last count, dRSG has 63 members operating some 93 storefronts across the country - a number Braniff expects to grow over the coming months. And with the exception of Ashley, dRSG sources product only from Canadian manufacturers, giving this event heightened importance.

dRSG will be headquartered in Orion ‘D' of the International Centre where market will be kicked-off with a full-day meeting on Friday. Although he won't unveil specifics until after the market, Braniff said "We're planning something that will radically change the profile of our members and could even drive their sales up by 20% this year."

Friday evening, dRSG will be feted as the 2012 Retailer of the Year by the Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance.

While he didn't reveal specific sales figures, Braniff said dRSG members have been outperforming the industry for most of the year. "We're gaining market share across most of the country," he said, adding exhibitors shouldn't expect these merchants to buy during the market.

Braniff explains this is because dRSG is a program-based merchandiser and members are encouraged to follow the plan as part of the effort to maximize sales and profit potential.

It's also why even though more forecasts are not predicting great things for furniture retailing in 2012; he's confidence "our member stores will outperform the industry.

Cantrex

Cantrex is also planning big things this market and Pat Kelly, director of furniture networks and retail programs, is confident a majority of the group's 652 member storefronts will be represented at TCHFM. In addition to a meeting area and display in Orion ‘A' of the International Centre, the group will also have mattress and appliance product presentations at the nearby Airport Holiday Inn.

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Pat Kelly
Meetings will take up most of Friday while the group's market dinner will be held on Saturday evening. TCHFM is the only event at which Cantrex is expected to show a comprehensive product line-up to its members this year.

Cantrex is planning to a major shift in its merchandising and marketing program in 2012 with the rollout of its new private label furniture and mattress programs. Both follow the launch of the private label appliance program Cantrex launched at last year's TCHFM which is now being flooring not only a majority members across the country but also by members of the Castle Buildings Centres Group in a deal that was inked just a few weeks ago.

Kelly points out independent retailers need exclusive product they can sell at a good margin without being shopped, so this is where Cantrex believes the group can make a difference.

Although Cantrex is looking for growth in 2012, Kelly said he expects his members will come to market with a "limited" open to buy as business for most of them has been uneven for most of 2011, although there were some signs of life in the last quarter.

"I think our members are optimistic about 2012 - they're very interested in the idea of private label product and they seem to be ready to try new things," Kelly said. "They're looking for alternatives and that's what we're trying to give them."

Mega Group

Mega Group is also seeing TCHFM has the starting line for 2012. Michael Vancura, the group's executive vice president of retail, is expecting a reasonably turnout from the members particularly for the banner meetings on Friday. The highlight of that day will be the ‘Mad Dash' - a 60-minute sale of show specials from a variety of the group's suppliers. The group's annual dinner the next night will be in support of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Canada.

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Michael Vancura
Vancura said TCHFM is the only market Mega actively supports. "Our show policy is we don't dilute our efforts by having meetings at any other show in North America," he said.

"It's been a tough year for our typical members," Vancura said. "It's also been an inconsistent year although November turned out to be a really good month."

He points out falling price points in two key categories - mattresses and major appliances - have eroded both top line sales and profitability for most independent retailers, meaning they're going to be looking for profit opportunities throughout the market. Vancura says his members are going to be more focused on specialty bedding and equally innovative product in their other categories.

"Everyone is going to be tight on his open to buy," Vancura said.

Although it will have a presence in Hall 5 of the International Centre, Mega Group's main product displays, meetings and social functions will be held at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel.

Home Furniture is also listed as a TCHFM participant. Traditionally, the furniture and appliance division of Home Hardware has its own private market at its headquarters in St. Jacob's, Ontario a few days before market opens where it unveils its plans for the year. Requests for information for this story went unanswered.

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