Supply chain slowing improving, Canadian HPM exhibitors say
HIGH POINT, North Carolina – For many of the 80 or Canadian furniture and furnishings resources expected to open for the Spring 2022 edition of High Point Market here this coming Saturday, the pandemic-induced slowdowns in the supply chain are finally starting to right themselves but many remain uncertain about how things will play out over the next year or so.
“We are seeing the [supply chain] get better and we’re getting excellent flow now but it’s still a bit crazy because we’re forecasting until the end of the year and into 2023 and we used to forecast out three-to-six months,” says Jade Merriman, vice-president of the Vancouver-based furniture and accessory distributor LH Imports.
“We’ve implemented better features for our customers to know what’s coming and what to expect. But now, instead of it being about what a product looks like, it’s ‘can you get it in stock and can you maintain the stock?’,” she continued.
“You won’t know if it’ll sell or be on everyone’s floor or just a few, but the risk is crazier because if you don’t place enough orders right off the bat, you won’t see more containers until 2023. The delays are better but are still happening. It’s also partly better because we’re able to translate that info better and faster. We’ll see a delay of one or two months but the ports have a better flow as well.”
As for what exhibitors will be showing at High Point Market, some companies are premiering brand new, never-before-seen collections.
“This market, we are launching our Con Amore collection which represents our 50th anniversary collection,” says Angelo ‘J.R.’ Marzilli, president of Décor-Rest Furniture, the Woodbridge, Ontario-based upholstery house.
Sofa bed specialist Sealy Sofa Convertibles is also launching new goods. "We’re showing our first sofa, loveseat and chair recliners with Zero-G technology that works well with Sealy and Posturpedic,” says Frank Rinella, sales and marketing director.
“It’s all brand new for this market. There are powered headrests and Zero-G comfort positions and USB ports and wireless chargers and swivel, rocker and lift chairs. Cupholders as well, etc. We’re getting into our first programming, and we’ll have additional introductions in the fall,” he added.
Others are showing relatively new goods retail buyers and other customers haven’t yet been able to see in person yet to due to COVID restrictions.
“We’re expanding our outdoor collection and putting emphasis on case goods,” Carl Lovett, vice president of sales for the Toronto-based Sunpan Modern Home, adding the contemporary furniture resource will boast a 40,000 square foot showroom at the market.
“A variety of mixed materials and lighter wood tones are on-trend. I think a lot of customers are going to see things for the first time, such as our rugs, our art, our lighting and our mirrors,” he continued, adding, “A lot of people have seen a line but they haven’t been able to feel it or touch it in person. Over 100 pieces will be on display. During COVID, it’s been hard to introduce new products because factories have been busy running regular product lines, so it’s almost like we’re getting two years’ worth of product at one tradeshow. We never stopped developing products, but customers haven’t seen these products live.”
Others are holding off on bigger introductions until High Point’s fall edition, which will be held from October 22 to 26.
“We have a minimal introduction for this market,” says Luke Simpson, president and chief executive officer of the Durham, Ontario-based solid wood case goods specialist Durham Furniture. “It is an expansion of an existing collection, adding new functional pieces. We are strategically focusing on October for a larger scale introduction when we expect attendance to be much improved.”
Despite many buyers’ willingness to make the trip to North Carolina, some are still opting to remain home for the time being and exhibitors are still doing their best to connect with customers who are less certain about traveling.
“There will be follow up with photo media and personal visits from our reps,” says Simpson.
Others are hosting customers at home.
“We have a home market in May for our Canadian customers who do not want to travel to the U.S. We’ve partnered with Stylus – the upholstery producer based in Vancouver – to create our own home market just for our customers so they can fly domestically instead of internationally and we’ll have 150 new introductions,” says LH’s Merriman.
Others are still offering customers a chance to view their goods virtually.
“It’s a mix of virtual and samples depending on who they are and what their interest is. We’ll send out a market preview and give our customers a chance to evaluate our new category and what we're offering vs what they currently carry and gauge their interest level,” says Sealy’s Rinella.
Others, such as Sunpan, are visiting customers where they are. “That was the purpose of my west coast trip – tell people what we have, what’s on the water, what we’re developing,” says Lovett. “We’re trying to convince people to visit [by visiting them in person]. A lot of customers weren’t allowing visits before. Just this year, customers started to feel comfortable with business-to-business visits.”
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