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Canadian exhibitors hoping for a more robust Winter LVM

18 January 2022
Events, Furniture

LAS VEGAS – Last August, Canadian exhibitors made the journey to the World Market Center here participating what many already knew would be a Las Vegas Market (LVM) short on Canadian attendees. Now, with the event’s winter 2022 approaching, exhibitors are preparing for a more robustly attended show, thanks to somewhat looser COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

Some believe the event – which is slated to showcase more than 4,000 lines and over one million products during its five-day, which kicks-off this coming Sunday (January 23, 2022) – will attract Canadian buyers in droves.

“Absolutely we do [expect more Canadian buyers],” Angelo ‘J.R.’ Marzilli, president of Décor-Rest Furniture, the Woodbridge, Ontario-based upholstery house, recently told Home Goods Online. “We have had a few conference calls with people who are excited to continue on with shows. American contacts seem more excited and for Canadians, it’s their first time going to a show should everything say status quo.”

Angelo MarzilliWhether everything will remain status quo, however, remains to be seen.

The recent disease wave launched by the new Omicron variant, which some experts suggest could be more transmissible and perhaps more likely to reinfect people who have previously contracted COVID-19, has many countries – Canada included – rushing to reimpose some travel restrictions. Indeed, Global Affairs Canada is currently advising against what it terms “non-essential travel.”

According to the U.S. Embassy to Canada, anyone over the age of two who flies into the United States must now provide a negative viral COVID test taken within one calendar day of travel or proof that they have contracted and recovered from the virus within the 90 days preceding their trip.

As for returning home, fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents coming from the U.S. are not currently required to quarantine upon re-entering the country. That said, the Canadian government’s web site says Canadians who are out of the country for longer than 72 hours must submit a negative COVID test or proof of recent previous infection.

But with a two-week quarantine no longer required for residents returning from the U.S., more Canadians are more likely to travel for work and play, prompting Marzilli to expect seeing attendance at the upcoming show reach pre-pandemic levels.

“We’re expecting a normal audience,” he enthuses. “Most of our industry seems to be well-vaccinated and people want to get out. We are Canadians after all and if you want a vacation in warmer weather, you have to be vaccinated to do so.”

Marzilli also observed people have appeared more willing to travel over the past several months.

“A lot of people are starting to test out the travelling aspect now,” he said. “We recently had a mini-show and invited sales associates and dealers to visit us on a one-on-one basis and we had a really good turnout. When we surveyed them to ask about plans for Vegas, they said they’d be there.”

Other exhibitors also believe looser travel restrictions will make it easier for Canadians to attend the market – especially since many might be planning to be away for less than three days.

Sara Samieian,“Yes, we believe they will [go to market], especially now that a PCR test is not required for an under 72-hour visit,” says Sara Samieian, co-chief executive officer of full-line furniture resource, Moe’s Home Collection, which is headquartered in Vancouver. “We feel many customers will come for two days. Not sure if it will be record numbers, but absolutely higher than we’ve seen since COVID,” she said.

Others agree while record attendance is unlikely, Canadian retail buyers are likely to at least begin making a comeback.

“At the current state of things, we do expect more Canadians to travel this January to Las Vegas Market. With a large majority of individuals who have been vaccinated we suspect that buyers are eager to be back doing what they do best – sourcing new products and partners,” says Sumer Morad, senior marketing manager with the Toronto-based full-line furniture resource SUNPAN.

“Canadians will still have to juggle a few obstacles at the borders with testing protocols, however this process is now quite well defined and pretty straight forward,” she added.

Morad believes while people are warming to the idea of travelling, the unpredictability of the virus could prompt some people to exercise more caution in the not-too-distant future. “We have seen a steady growth in the attendance of our showrooms since last fall but of course this could change if the COVID numbers surge.”

Sumer MoradOthers say while it’s not necessarily going to be one of the most well-attended markets of all time, it’s coming at a time when Canadians are anxious to check out new products and enjoy better weather.

“I think it’s going to be a hot market. Will it be as busy as winter markets past? It really does depend,” says Gary Christianson, sales and marketing director for Mobital, the modern furniture specialist based in Laval, Quebec.

“Some buyers don’t decide until January, but the people who usually go say they’re going to go this time. I think people are wanting to get out there and see what alternatives there may be. For some buyers, it’s an excuse to get out of dodge and be in a sunny environment for a while and knock off some business at the same time,” he noted.

Christianson says attendance could be mildly tempered by the spate of between market mini-shows – where manufacturers and importers invite retailers to private events held in their own showrooms – that have recently taken place up-and-down the west coast.

Gary ChristiansonThat said, he also believes buyers are looking to peruse a wider display of product. “[In British Columbia, where he is based], we have a robust manufacturing and import sector for furniture and there’s been a lot of in-between market sales happening and it kind of liquefies the show, but people are hungry to see who they can source from,” he said, adding last fall’s edition of the High Point Market was slow for west coast businesses.

Others believe the pandemic will continue to keep attendance lower than usual.

“The pandemic recovery will be a slow process. I do not expect the same number of Canadian retailer buyers at the Las Vegas show,” said Simon Jervis, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Sealy Sofa Convertibles. “I do believe that we will see more buyers than we have in about two years. It is true that travel restrictions into the U.S have eased, but by no means are they at the same level as pre-pandemic. There is certainly a nervousness to business travel. I don’t believe that we will see markets return to ‘normal’ until we are clearly past COVID-19.”

New product and supply chain hot topics for Las Vegas Market

18 January 2022
Events, Furniture

LAS VEGAS – While not every exhibitor is to offer out-of-the-ordinary incentives to draw retail buyers to their showroom in the World Market Center here, almost all are excited to get feedback on their latest looks and product offerings. Indeed, the organizers famously maintain there are more than one million products on display during the year’s first major furniture industry event.

“We continually are in product development,” says Simon Jervis, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Sealy Sofa Convertibles, adding the company is still focused on going to the buyer rather than requiring the buyer to come to them. “In 2021, we introduced new Sealy recliners with Posturepedic technology. We are very excited about entering into this category,” he noted, adding, “In 2022, we will focus on the motion recliner and lift recliner category. We have many introductions planned for both the Las Vegas Market, as well as the High Point Market in the spring.”

Angelo ‘J.R.’ Marzilli, president of Décor-Rest Furniture, told HGO his family owned-and-operated furniture producer plans to showcase its new 2115 collection. “[This new model] is deep, lush, soft, comfortable and cozy. We’ve used recycled materials to be environmentally friendly. We’re one of the first ones who have infused leather particles in the seat to give it softness. People who see pictures are in love with the look, but they buy after they sit on it,” he says.

Expected to launch at the upcoming Las Vegas Market, the Model 2115 Angel is the latest addition to the Lovin’ Lounging collection from Décor-Rest. Designed for extreme comfort, this sofa boosts deep seating with high resiliency super soft foam topped with a leather-fiber blend for extraordinary comfort.Meanwhile, senior marketing manager Sumer Morad said SUNPAN plans to share teasers in its showroom of what potential buyers can expect to help “pique their interest and persuade them to come for the newness.”

As for what will be on display, Morad says SUNPAN is sourcing products closer to home and will be introducing pieces made in Mexico while expanding its outdoor collection. “Attendees will also find stylized pods within our showroom to help them ‘Shop-by-Style’. These same styles will be found on our web site in the New Year,” she added.

Gary Christianson, sales and marketing director, said Mobital is currently working to discern who will be attending the winter edition of the Las Vegas Market before deciding which pieces will be highlighted at the show.

“We have to look at the analytics of the year – it’s been a good year – and we need to see what we need to do to carry on and stimulate the purchasing. We need to remain innovative with SKUs and competitive with pricing and make sure quality control is staying where it needs to be,” he said, adding that, in terms of products trending right now, ceramics are performing well.

“One thing that’s huge for us is ceramics as a surface. Lacquer was once popular and it moved into glass and marble and woods,” he said, adding marble is more susceptible to cracks and stains. “Ceramic is the natural next movement in dining tables because you get the look but not the issues, so it’s a huge product line for us that’s been continually evolving. Shipping is a huge cost and when [marble] arrives damaged after a huge delay, you know, people will soon decide on their own whether they want to carry that in their stores anymore.” 

Supply chain remains a challenge
While the furniture industry has thrived amid the pandemic – especially since rolling lockdowns all over the globe prompted house-bound consumers to funnel their spending into home improvement projects – increased demand and disruptions to manufacturing have led to an inventory crunch, heightened costs and delivery delays.

Challenges aside, those exhibitors surveyed are working to secure in-demand products and some are even advising buyers on the best ways to keep customers happy. “Our issue isn’t manufacturing capacity, we have the capabilities to produce orders on-time,” says Sealy’s Jervis.

New from Mobital at the upcoming Las Vegas Market, the W dining table has two manual extending leaves that are self-storing under the table. It is made with a black powder coated steel base and a ceramic and glass top that is laminated together. The ceramic top has a matte textured finish and is scratch and stain resistant which can be easily cleaned with soap and water.“The current issue retailers face is a shipping crisis. There is a real shortage of containers, and the price levels are significantly premium to those pre-pandemic,” he pointed out, adding, “Our retailers are forced to prioritize their shipments as they are squeezed by cost and availability of product from overseas. Domestic inbound freight has also significantly increased creating tough choices for retailers.”

Meanwhile, Sara Samieian, co-chief executive officer, said Moe’s Home Collection has been working to get ahead of the backlogs by keeping more product on hand. “Since the pandemic's beginning, we have been ordering at high volumes and are working with great partners to get as much as we can on time.”

Mobital’s Christianson also said keeping as much product on hand as possible is key to keeping buyers happy while the pandemic continues to affect shipping. “I started having these conversations with several buyers back in the spring. “You need to order and get in queue or you’ll never be able to sell something when you’re quoting 20 weeks for something to come,” he said, adding while the consumer understands delays can be inevitable, they might be choosier to avoid waiting weeks or months for a sofa.

“You need to open your wallet a bit and keep that flow of constant shipments arriving that you can sell from because people will continue shopping for a better ETA. Some things are selling very fast. With all of these retailers, nothing counts as a sale until it’s delivered to the customer,” Christianson continued, noting his company isn’t just dealing with pandemic-related challenges, but also shipping delays caused by recent wildfires and floods in British Columbia.

“The manufacturing sector is producing with lead times into March for anything custom in Canada and we’re oversold into March on several things as well,” he said. “You need to have diversity in what you carry to get different sales coming in. Heading into the New Year, buyers have an understandable scepticism or concern wondering how long this [demand] can sustain. The prices keep going up and ocean freight is a big part of that for importers. It’s been one challenge after the next coming our way.”

Christianson suggest some solutions to this ongoing problem includes finding different ports to receive goods in or finding alternative routes and carriers. “Sometimes you have to wait or juggle orders to ship to the person you can ship to. We’re able to weather it but for smaller stores who can’t stock too much inventory, they might be missing out the most.”

Décor-Rest’s Marzilli agrees having product in stock is crucial. “We decided to buy much deeper and increase our raw material storage. It is selling, so we’re okay right now. Our magic secret is stocking heavily all best-selling supplies,” he says, adding, “The new normal has been anywhere from four to eight months delivery. It can take six months to get a custom-made product. We encourage our dealers to buy heavier on best sellers and stock it so they can have it on hand. When we ask [buyers] if people wait six months or buy what’s on the floor and they say it’s 50/50.”

LVM exhibitors enthusiastic, particularly their U.S. business

18 January 2022
Events, Furniture

LAS VEGAS – It’s no secret the Canadian furniture industry, from manufacturing and distribution to retail, has been on fire, mostly in a good way since 2020, but do manufacturers showing at the upcoming winter edition of the Las Vegas Market expect the trend to continue into 2022?

“I do believe that furniture retailing in the U.S has been at break-neck speeds. However, inventory is low and in Canada, I do not believe that furniture retailing has been at breakneck speeds,” said Simon Jervis, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Sealy Sofa Convertibles, adding, “The addition of the tariff ruling, as well as all the other headwinds from the effects of COVID-19, has changed the furniture retailing landscape in Canada. The immediate need to solve the tariff dilemma is in process and we look forward to a more fruitful 2022.”

The Plank king bed from the Moe’s Home Collection features naturally finished solid oak to show off the organic appeal of the tree it’s made from. Available in both queen and king size, this bed revels in its unique wood grains and whorls, bringing an all-natural vibe to the bedroom. Can be paired with a nightstand for a complete set.Having said that, the seasoned industry executive remains excited for the New Year. “2022 will be a significant year of growth for us,” he said, even though the COVID-19 situation remains fluid and unpredictable.

“Our business plan, including new product introductions, is set for significant growth through 2022. We are focused on expanding brick and mortar distribution throughout the U.S and Canada. We are also excited about our e-commerce strategy.  We are introducing more UPS-able product in both recliners and sofa convertibles.”

Sumer Morad, senior marketing manager with SUNPAN is also expects 2022 to be busy. “We expect demand to remain strong in Canada and our other markets for quite some time, especially as supply continues to play catch up. We have been confined to our homes for the last two years and people have reconnected with their spaces,” she said.

“The housing market remains strong, and people continue to proceed with renovations. Our customers are looking for product that’s in stock and available to ship now, and we are working very hard to fulfil these orders,” she adding, noting the Toronto-based furniture resource is going through a digital transformation.

“We are focused on continuously improving our customer’s shopping experience,” she says. “We are anticipating a strong year ahead.

Angelo ‘J.R.’ Marzilli, president of Décor-Rest Furniture is yet another Canadian furniture executive expecting a busy year ahead. “We have been pedal to the metal, full speed ahead, receiving more orders than we can handle on a daily basis for a good solid year and a half. We’ve increased output, but inbound is way over what we were expecting, but by next year, everyone should have a brand new sofa in their home or cottage,” he said just before the recent Christmas break.

“We’ll be busy until next year,” he added at the time. “We’re building the best we can, not sacrificing quality. It might slow down in Q3 and 4, but there will be a backlog to clear. I think it'll be a strong 2022 based on our current backlog. If we can ship it out faster, we’ll have an even better year.”

However, Gary Christianson, sales and marketing director for Mobital admits he’s a bit nervous about what the New Year might have in store for the industry. “I wish I had a crystal ball and I’d love for it to continue the way it’s going, but if prices keep going up, there’s going to be a sustainability issue in terms of what people can afford. If you’re house poor in Toronto or Vancouver and a $3,000 or $4,000 couch is now $5,000 or $6,000, what’s leftover? Will everyone start spending on going out and vacations again? Will that directly impact our industry?” he asks.

“I’d say I'm approaching 2022 with some trepidation,” he continued, “What I’m looking for is stability with a little bit of growth. This pandemic has forged new business opportunities and relationships and we expect those to flourish in the New Year, such as with new buyers that are buying on larger scales.”

Trepidation aside, Christianson says that no matter what happens, people will always want – and need – furniture. “Your home is your nest and maybe people forgot that but when they had to slow down, they realized they deserved better in their home and they went out and got it and they’re still getting it. If you don't have your nest to go back to, what do you have?”

Small group of Canadian firms to show at winter Las Vegas Market

18 January 2022
Events

LAS VEGAS – Roughly 27 Canadian furniture, home furnishings and giftware resources are expected to open their doors at the World Market Center here for the Winter 2022 edition of the Las Vegas Market (LVM) which will begin it usual five-day run this coming Sunday, January 23.

Thanks to the ongoing complications driven by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian delegation to the first major furniture trade event to be held in North America this year is somewhat smaller than it has been in recent years.

The World Market Center is home to the Las Vegas Market.Held twice each year, the Las Vegas Market is owned and operated by the High Point, North Carolina-based International Market Centers (IMC). While travel and business opening restrictions to combat the pandemic have largely been lifted in the United States, it was unclear at press time how many of the permanent showrooms within the 31 floors of World Market Center would open for market.

It should be noted the Government of Canada continues to advise against what it calls ‘non-essential’ travel outside of the country. Canadian industry professionals wishing to attend the market are advised to contact Global Affairs Canada and their local health authorities before making travel arrangements. Click here to review the current federal government guidelines concerning international travel.

The last pre-pandemic edition of the Las Vegas Market was held in January 2020 event saw some 50 Canadian companies exhibit.

The market is divided into three broad categories: furniture (including upholstery, case goods, mattresses and related products and services sold both by and to furniture retailers; home décor (mainly accessories such as mirrors, lamps, area rugs); and giftware. The event attracts retailers in all three categories as well as interior designers.

According to the organizers, the following furniture producers have permanent showrooms in the World Market Centre and are expected to show at the Winter 2022 edition of the Las Vegas Market (their showrooms are identified where known):

Bellini Modern Living – B670
CabinetBed – B220-12
Cannabeds – C1565
CorLiving Distribution – A547
Decor-Rest Furniture – A554
Magnussen Home – A730
Minhas Furniture House/Flair Enterprises – A1000
Mobital – B775
Primo International – C1412
Reemka – B350
Sealy Sofa Convertibles – B1028
Sunpan Modern Home – B700
Tailbase – B1050
XSENSOR Technology – C1579

The following are listed as home décor exhibitors and are scattered throughout the World Market Center: 

Chive Inc. – C1001
Elite Home Theater Seating – A238
Giftcraft – C639, C644
LH Imports – C485
Mercana Furniture & Décor – B306, B316
Northwood Collection – A430
Picture Deport – B349
Mood Dekor – B365
RENWIL – A425
Streamline Art – B346
Vertuu Design – B365

The showrooms will be open Sunday to Wednesday from 8am until 6pm and will close at 4pm on the last day of market. The Summer 2022 edition of the Las Vegas Market will run from July 24 to 28.

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Home Goods Online.ca and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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