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SOURCING HEIMTEXTIL; THE GERMAN TRADE FAIR IS INCREASINGLY BECOMING A PLACE WHERE SUPPLIERS FROM THE UNITED STATES GO TO FIND PRODUCTS.

Byline: Leticia Leizens

FRANKFURT, Germany-Heimtextil (Jan. 12 to 15) is beginning to look a lot like a sourcing show, said most U.S. suppliers heading here for the 2005 version.

"It is totally a sourcing show," said Gretchen Dale, director of design and marketing for Loftex Industries. "Everybody is going direct overseas. Heimtex is a good place to see a lot of people."

And as U.S. suppliers continue to look for cost-efficient sources of supply, they are inevitably lured to the growing number of Asian exhibitor booths, particularly from India, China and Pakistan.

Ten years ago, Jeff Hollander, president and chief operating officer of Hollander Home Fashions, said suppliers were looking to do business with Eastern European countries. Today, there are 30 different countries to source products from; Asia has become a key resource. "Heimtex is the place where a lot of people converge. It is a good place for upper management to conduct meetings rather than travel for weeks," said Salo Grosfeld, president of J.R. United Industries.

He said Heimtextil has evolved strongly from a trend show to a sourcing show in the last two to three years. "Nobody goes there to see trends anymore. Those who say they do are kidding themselves," Grosfeld said.

If there are still trends to see at Heimtextil, they are not as dramatic as before. Communications, including television and computers, has instantaneously relayed what is hot in Europe, Grosfeld said. "I really think there is not a lot of trend that you can get there," he added. "We are starting to see trends here. Trends are coming to the U.S."

Hollander agreed with Grosfeld, stating, "The biggest change I've seen ... it's the recognition that European suppliers used to be a year ahead or two of U.S. suppliers in what they are showing to the local market. But because it is a world market, we are seeing product introductions coming into the U.S. and Europe at the same time."

Hollander, however, rejected the idea of Heimtextil evolving from a trend show to a sourcing show in recent years. He said he goes to Heimtextil every year with a consistent approach: 90 percent of it is sourcing, divided into sourcing of raw materials and sourcing of design, and 10 percent of it is trend.

The 10 percent where he gets impressions of finished products offered by European companies to European retailers continues to be an important element of the international trade show, Hollander said.

"I would not say it is no longer a trend place," said Diane Piemonte, vice president of creative services of Revman International. "It is probably a bit of both."

For Revman, which has been sourcing globally for a long time, Heimtextil is a place to meet with existing vendors and check the status of projects. These days, the show is not only a destination for designers, it's also marked down in the calendars of operations and merchandising staff.

"I always felt that I do not have to go to Heimtex every year from a trend standpoint," said Piemonte, who is skipping this year's event. "There is definitely not much difference. There is no lag time. We are working on trends simultaneously."

Piemonte said that while Heimtextil is still in the mix of shows to go to, most people agree that Maison & Objet is much more cutting edge and inspirational.

Dianne Morris, president of Bay Linens, is also not going to Frankfurt this year. She goes once every three years. "Not all of the European designs are relevant to the U.S. market," she said. "There are other ways to see them. You can go to Maison & Objet."

2004 TOP 10 EXHIBITORS

1. Germany

2. India

3. China

4. Turkey

5. Italy

6. Pakistan

7. France

8. Spain

9. UK

10.Belgium/Portugal

Source: Messe Frankfurt

2004 TOP 10 VISITORS

1. Italy

2. UK

3. USA

4. Turkey

5. France

6. Spain

7. South Korea

8. Japan

9. Greece

10 Netherlands

Source: Messe Frankfurt

Caption(s): Some 48,000 visitors will trek to Heimtextil, the largest textiles trade show, this week.
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Author:Leizens, Leticia
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jan 10, 2005
Words:684
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