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Store fixture manufacturers branch out.


According to Bernard Whalen, Executive Director of NASFM, store fixture sales are down about 10 percent because retailing is down. "With retailers putting their work on hold, it is affecting the suppliers." Many members are looking towards non-retail fixtures to offset their loss. "The retail industry was hit so hard we have learned we can't put all our eggs in one basket," said Whalen.

Diversification into institutional fixtures has kept some NASFM members busy. "Schools, hotels, casinos and prisons - there will always be a supply in institutional fixtures," said Whalen.

Store fixture manufacturers are also looking towards the foreign markets. Some firms are targeting as much as one-third of their business overseas, including Kuwait, which needs much rebuilding. Also, as American retailers expand to other countries, they will most likely keep their American suppliers, according to Whalen.

However, the evolving global economy means that foreign firms are entering the domestic market, too. "It is important to compete with the foreign companies," said Whalen. "The Europeans and the Japanese are supplying fixtures now. Foreigners who buy retail chains will use their own suppliers because they have already established a relationship. There's lots of cross-ownership in this industry. In the future it will not be unrealistic to see a British company that owns shipping chains in the U.S. that uses Japanese design firms and has its fixtures built in Germany."

"The foreign trend will increase in years to come" and store fixture manufacturers "will have to learn to deal with it," said Whalen. Some major issues affecting trade include the solidification of the European Economic Community and the negotiation to create a North American free trade zone with Canada and Mexico.

Other areas of concern for store fixture manufacturers include environmental compliance and increasing the automation in manufacturing. Also, the shortage of skilled craftsmen "is a constant problem," said Whalen, adding that it is becoming hard to find new employees with woodworking training.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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