13840 Wed, 02/20/2008 - 4:57pm
NEW YORK–To hear the vendors exhibiting new products during the showroom phase of the February home textiles market, they have no choice but to pass along the cost increases they have weathered for raw materials, labor and the fall in the U.S. dollar.
“The costs are up for everybody,” said Frank Foley, president of CHF Industries. “The increases to us have happened, and they are going to happen for our retailers. How they get passed through depends on the individual case. But those retailers who are sourcing directly from abroad are aware of the situation.”
Perhaps because the retailers know the situation, some first-hand, some vendors have claimed success in boosting their prices. Pendleton Woollen Mills has already passed along higher prices and “the retailers have not been a problem,” said Robert Christnacht, blanket/home division manager. “It’s a reality for them, too.”
“Retailers are accepting price increases easily,” said Lorraine Maberry, vice president of sales and merchandising at Trendex. “No one’s freaked out about the economy now, and that’s encouraging.”
“The best news is that everyone is in the same boat,” said Tedd Smith, president of International Home Fashions. “We and the retailers are both in a tough situation with rising costs in China and the currency. Neither side has a lot of choice.”
For other manufacturers, the picture is somewhat clouded. “We have gotten increases from our suppliers, but there will be no passing it on,” said Rudy Schmatz, chairman of Calvin Klein Home. “We’re caught in a squeeze because of the dollar, but we’ve rarely been successful at raising prices.”
“It’s always a challenge to pass price increases on,” said Bob O’Connell, vice president of sales for Sleep Innovations. The answer, therefore, is that “we’ll try to keep our products cost-competitive, and our being vertically integrated gives us a cost advantage over those who source from outside the U.S.”
“Our job is to provide solutions to the retailer, either through sharp pricing or creating product with the best value,” said Hector Torres, vice president of marketing and product development for Perfect Fit. “Consumers are looking for value and we’re creating that through innovation.”
On another front, vendors were mostly pleased with the announcement by the Home Fashion Products Association of the move of the showroom portion of textiles market to March and September down the road. The move takes effect this year, with the summer market moving from August to September.
“The buying season actually starts in March, so we are pretty pleased with the move,” Perfect Fit’s Torres said. “February is when the Chinese New Year takes place, which creates the challenge of conducting a market while meeting customers’ needs on the spot.”
“I had a big smile on my face when I heard about it,” Pendleton’s Christnacht said. “It’s a good, good move. August was a terrible time because of vacations. February is good for retailers’ fall plans but terrible because of the weather and the travel disruption it caused. March is better because you’re not worried about getting out of town. I applaud the move.”
Others were more indifferent. “I don’t know if it has a lot of impact on us,” Sleep Innovations’ O’Connell said. “The schedule is what it is. If [the HFPA] did research and found the new schedule is better for the buyers’ time, I think it will be a good thing.” — David Gill