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ACCESSORY VENDORS FIND NEW AVENUES AT MARKET.

HIGH POINT, N.C.-Lighting and accessory buyers had plenty of new looks and suppliers to work with at last month's International Home Furnishings Market here.

Across the spectrum, exhibitors made forays into new product categories and made bold moves to target added retail distribution.

At the mass level, promotional lamps and accessories, particularly bonus packs, were in abundance, as suppliers attempted to break through retailer reluctance and spark sales, offer added value, and raise the average ticket on retail shelves.

Multipacks of candlesticks, buffet lamps and other combinations, from contemporary to traditional, were abundant from a variety of sources. Several back-to-school combo packs will include better clocks, frames and candlesticks.

Cheyenne's multipacks offered tremendous value, with furniture, mirror and lamp combinations all in one box.

"We had good reaction to the shade treatments featuring beads, fabrics, colors, etc. We also had good reaction to the furniture/mirror/lamp combinations," said Alan Long, Cheyenne president, who added that there are some difficulties.

"Things are tough right now," said Long. "It is hard to get commitments. Everyone is conservative. We will weather the storm and be even stronger when things start to pick up. Unfortunately, this may not be until mid-2002."

That sentiment was echoed throughout the market by suppliers of low-end to high-end accessories.

Many vendors said they're watching their retailers' financials carefully while aggressively pursuing other avenues of distribution.

Having taken a hit and lost sales through several major retailers, Alsy Lighting, for one, has gone after food and drug chains, and expanded its product line to include fixtures and more value-added products.

"We think we can make up the difference by the end of the year," said Michael Dene, chief executive officer of SLI Lighting, Alsy's parent. "We've seen all our majors, with the exception of Kmart, who didn't come, and we've made great inroads, opening up 10 new major customers this market."

Walker Mirror, a vertical manufacturer based in Montreal, has aggressively pursued major U.S. retailers over the past year and a half, and has been making inroads with department stores and furniture chains.

"This will be our biggest market ever because we have more key buyers and we're less dependent on the independents," said Charlie Royce, director of marketing at Walker Mirror.

Jerry Strickland, president of Mastercraft International, said he was pleased with the success of his company's new division targeting furniture chains with value-priced imports.

"Most of the major furniture stores were here," he said. "We had an amazing response from a lot of furniture stores that felt they could not do direct imports. They were surprised after seeing the prices and savings they could achieve compared to out-of-warehouse."

Mastercraft had particularly strong interest in its contemporary and transitional glass lamps, large brushed steel lamps, hurricanes and ceramic lamps in decorative finishes that resemble similar hydrocal looks.

At the high end, suppliers are becoming as aggressive as their mid- and mass-market counterparts.

George Kovacs Lighting unveiled Simply Kovacs, a new division featuring modern lamps at its lowest prices ever, featuring some under $100 retail, but most under $200.

The imported line includes geometric table and floor lamps designed by Robert Sonneman, functional desk and floor lamps by Alecia Wesner, and the folding Flat lamp by Andrew Schloss.

Several other upper-end producers targeted lower price ranges. Rachel Simon, president of Lights Up, said she has found ways to alter the manufacturing process without compromising quality or design.

"We're focusing on our best-selling products and sourcing them in a way to be more competitive," Simon said. Innovative packaging that can be re-used, such as her popular Lamp in a Can, in which both items are made of stiff wave paper, have become more important as well, she said.
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Article Details
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Author:Meyer, Nancy
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Nov 5, 2001
Words:622
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