Furniture Brands International is teaming with America's Research Group to develop for a program of consumer research that will be incorporated into the development of products from FBI companies Broyhill, Lane and Thomasville.
Studies will include research on new product lines before they are introduced at market, along with post-market retailer and consumer evaluations.
"Until now, furniture manufacturers have done little in the way of consumer research," said Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group. "Manufacturers bring product to market twice a year hoping that retailers and the consumers will buy them, but without having done the research in advance to assure that outcome. This step by Furniture Brands International is indeed visionary."
MARCH SHIPMENTS INDICATE SLOWDOWN
Manufacturer shipments of residential furniture in March increased 6 percent to $2.368 billion from $2.237 billion in March 1998, according to BDO Seidman. That increase fell well short of the 18 percent increase in shipment in March 1998 over March 1997. "The rate of record increases of shipments during the past two years are probably unsustainable for this year," said the BDO Seidman report.
March shipments rose 15 percent from February 1999. For the first three months of 1999, shipments increased to $6.176 billion over $5.911 billion in the same period of 1998.
BENCHCRAFT EXPANDS FACILITY
BenchCraft broke ground on a 250,000-square-foot expansion of its distribution center in Blue Mountain, Miss. The expanded facility will total 623,000 square feet. "We're proud to continue to maintain a high level of customer service during this period of rapid growth," president and chief executive officer Tom Cunningham told HFN. The upholstery producer's business grew by 30 percent in 1998 and is on pace for its anticipated20 percent growth this year.
LEVITZ CREATES NEW POSITION: VP OF STRATEGIC RESOURCES AND HR
Levitz Furniture has named Nick Masullo to the new position of vice president of strategic operations and human resources. He was previously vice president of human resources and labor. In his new position, Masullo will provide operational leadership and strategic direction for the company's overall operations, including corporate headquarters, stores and sales support centers. He will retain responsibility for human resources and labor relations for the 64-store chain.
AMERICAN LEATHER OFFERS AD PACKAGES TO ITS RETAILERS
American Leather is offering its retailers a crack at advertising. The company will provide participating retailers a package that includes full-color and one-color ads that can be customized extensively. The retail package is an extension of American Leather's 1999 consumer advertising campaign, "Immerse Yourself." Each ad features a piece from one of American Leather's top designers and aims to evoke a particular mood. The ads began running in shelter magazines such as Architectural Digest and Elle Decor early this year and in the Wall Street Journal's weekend section in March.