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WEDNESDAY IN LAS VEGAS

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					    WEDNESDAY IN L AS VEGAS
                                                                                                                                                                        Jan.
                                                                                                                                                                      30
                                                                                                                                                                      2008
                                                                                                                                                                       Vol. 32
                                                                                                                                                                       No. 21b



Bedding sources ramp up Upholstery                                                                                       starts off strong
Spotlighting benefits of better sleep
By David Perry                                                              Activity defies business climate
AT THE MARKET — Facing the prospect of a challenging year                   By Gary Evans                         execs saw the atmosphere          manufacturer showing in
for mattress sales, bedding producers are ramping up their                                                        and traffic here as maybe         WMC B-1145.
marketing messages and putting the spotlight on the benefits                AT THE MARKET — Station-              an early sign of stabilization        Clark said some of the inter-
of better sleep.                                                            ary upholstery manufactur-            and a possible upswing.           est resulted from a fine-tuning
   They said their new lines offer the promise of reduced toss-             ers started the market here              “We found it to be very        of the company’s line — re-
ing and turning and cooler, more comfortable sleep, benefits                this week with strong atten-          steady. It was actually busier    scaling products for urban
that they hope will resonate with consumers and spark sales.                dance and order writing.              than we expected because          audiences, upgrading fabrics
   Retailers shopping the category here said they liked what                   The world within the               people usually start in Build-    and looks, and expanding its
they were hearing about the better sleep messages, according                World Market Center seemed            ing A and work their way          transitional frames.
                                                   see Bedding, p93         to defy what has been go-             here,” said Harold Clark,             Based on early results, he
                                                                            ing on in the outside world,          vice president of sales and       said, “We think we’ll have

Nationwide to liquidate?                                                    where business has long been
                                                                            mired in a tepid cycle. Some
                                                                                                                  merchandising for Nuance
                                                                                                                  Fine Furniture, a midpriced
                                                                                                                                                    more than a 20% increase
                                                                                                                                                              see Upholstery, p93

By Clint Engel

NORCROSS, Ga. — Nationwide Mattress and Furniture Ware-
house, one of Sun Capital Partners’ earliest industry acquisi-
tions, is set to be liquidated, according to industry sources.
                                                                            Bedroom brings out best
                                                                            By Jeff Linville
   The highly promotional chain, with an estimated 39 stores
in 14 states east of the Mississippi River, was cut off by Sun              AT THE MARKET — The
Capital, a private equity fund that acquired Nationwide out                 tough retail climate is bring-
of bankruptcy in 2002, said a key supplier to the retailer who              ing out the best in bedroom
asked not to be identified.                                                 sources as they play a game
   Steve Glucksman, Nationwide president, initially declined                of one-upmanship in search
                                                see Nationwide, p8          of business.

Big winner named tonight                                                       While some try to beat
                                                                            out the competition on pric-
                                                                            ing, many more are drawing
AT THE MARKET — Fifty marketgoers have a chance to get lucky                customers with new features
tonight at the $250,000 grand prize giveaway in the World Mar-
                                                                            and styles.
ket Center’s Fashion 500 Runway Rewards.
                                                                               Wynwood’s opening-day
    Celebrity host Robin Leach will announce the winner from
                                                                            traffic was up 5% over last
among the semifinalists. Sorry, the list wasn’t available at press
                                                                            January, said Lorri Kelley, vice
time, but you can check TV monitors in the buildings to see who
is in the running.                                                          president of sales. She said she      Wynwood says its traffic is up this week as dealers look
    The winner must be present to win. The drawing will be held             hasn’t heard retailers saying         for exciting goods. This canopy bed with weave-pattern
in the Building B atrium starting at 5:30 p.m., and semifinalists                       see Bedroom, p93          headboard is drawing good attention for the company.
must check in at the “winners circle” by 5:45 p.m. It’s right next
to the stage. Leach will announce the winner at 6:30 p.m.

Exclusive|Reports                                                           Soflex shows container-direct leather
                                                                            By Joan Gunin                         based company launched            1970s, Soflex began distribut-
Design Today                                   I N D E X                                                          its leather assortment at the     ing in the United States under
                                    Bedding Today .............. 46         AT THE MARKET — Soflex, at            Las Vegas Market in July          its own brand in mid-2007.
                                    Classifieds ..................... 88    the urging of a big customer, is      and has tweaked it to show            Earlier, the company was
                                                                            among the latest Asian manu-          at other markets, including       importing to PMD Furniture
                                    Kids Today .................... 84
                                                                            facturers to export leather up-       High Point and Tupelo. The        Direct, a Columbus, Ohio-
                                    Market events ............... 18
                                                                            holstery to the United States,        latest evolution is on display    based Top 100 store that sells
                                    Market parties ............... 94       offering container-direct, cus-       this week in its World Market     through a network of licensed
                                    Staff listing .................... 80   tom order and warehousing             Center showroom, B-960.           retailers and uses a low-over-
                        p58                                                 capabilities.                             A producer of leather seat-   head strategy. PMD sold the
              w w w. f u r n i t u r e t o d a y. c o m                        T h e Ta i z h o u , C h i n a -   ing in Taiwan since the late                     see Soflex, p54
54   FURNITURE |TODAY JANUARY 30, 2008

Industry News
                                          nese term that means “comfort-                     new tier of customers with our
     Soflex                               able seat.” But, Chiang jested,                    warehouse.”
                                          while leading Furniture/Today                          About 95% of the prod-
from p1                                   on a tour of the plant, that cus-                  uct Soflex sells in the United
upholstery under its Royal Heri-          tomers think the name means,                       States is stationary, comprising
tage brand.                               “The price is ‘so flexible.’ ”                     a 3-2-1 mix of traditional and
    In 2006, PMD President and                Soflex operates a 1.4 million-                 transitional sofa-loveseat-chair
CEO Jeff Hosking suggested to             square-foot production facility                    groupings. The company also
Soflex President and CEO Ar-              on a stark campus here. With                       produces ottomans, sectionals,
thur Chiang that a division be            120,000 square feet dedicated                      chaises and occasional chairs
created solely for the Americas.          to U.S. business and another                       for the U.S. market.
    Chiang has been producing             230,000 square feet devoted to                         At its Taizhou facility, Soflex
high-end contemporary leather             the rest of the world, about 1                     employs more than 500 work-
seating for European and Asian            million square feet remain for                     ers, about half of whom live in       Touring Soflex’s China plant are, front row, Joe Armetta, left, PMD
markets out of Taiwan for 30              expansion.                                         dormitories on-site.                  Furniture Direct, Columbus, Ohio; Arthur Chiang, Soflex; and Jeff
years. But in deciding to branch              Soflex can now ship 150 to                         The company is expanding          Hosking, PMD. In the back are Larry Mendoza, left, Rose Chiang,
out with “more mainstream,                200 containers per month and                       its leather warehouse, already        Tom Schmidt, Jack Chang and Desmond Tan, all of Soflex.
affordable furniture” geared              has the capacity to reach 300                      stocked with $2 million in inven-     Europe and yellow for Califor-     charge a 5% to 10% upcharge,
to the U.S. and elsewhere, he             if it adds a second shift or ex-                   tory with hides from Italy, China     nia, the most stringent.           but ship FR-approved on every-
turned to China.                          pands a building, said General                     and South America. Soflex car-           “Everything we ship to the      thing we make.”
    However, he did not follow            Manager Desmond Tan.                               ries about seven grades of leather    U.S. meets California FR stan-        Soflex aims to offer quality,
his competitors to the furni-                 By adding more supple                          as well as two types each of by-      dards,” Schmidt said. “Unlike      prompt delivery, reliable service
ture hotbeds of Dongguan or               leathers, softer cushioning and                    cast and bonded covers.               other companies, we don’t                          see Soflex, p56
Shenzhen, turning instead to              greater seating depth, Soflex                          In the factory, all of the
Taizhou in the Jianshu Prov-

                                                                                                                                   U.S. market is familiar
                                          is attuned to American seat-                       leather defects are marked by
ince, an emerging commercial              ing comfort, said Tom Schmidt,                     hand and then hand-cut with
region first settled more than            president and CEO of the com-                      scissors “to manage the edges
5,000 years ago. Located north
of the Yangtze River, Taizhou
is a three-hour drive from the
                                          pany’s U.S. unit, based in Farm-
                                          ers Branch, Texas.
                                              Buoyed by the August open-
                                                                                             and provide better shaping
                                                                                             for a more tailored product,”
                                                                                             Schmidt said.
                                                                                                                                   to Taiwan entrepreneur
bustle of Shanghai.                       ing of a 120,000-square-foot                           The facility’s work stations      TAIZHOU, China — Although          well as high-end catalogs in
    Under parent Milano Sofa              warehouse in the North Dallas                      are color-coded by fire retardant     leather upholstery producer        Europe.
Co., Chiang created the “Soflex”          Design District, Schmidt said,                     regulations: red for the United       Soflex may be new to the               He also is involved with
brand as a variation on a Chi-            “We can now address a whole                        Kingdom, green for the rest of        United States, owner Arthur        a case goods factory in Viet-
                                                                                                                                   Chiang, a self-made, Taiwan-       nam.
                                                                                                                                   ese-born entrepreneur who              Before producing affordable

       Have you received                                                                                                           settled in Singapore, is not.
                                                                                                                                       Involved in export and
                                                                                                                                   manufacturing since his
                                                                                                                                                                      leather seating for the U.S.,
                                                                                                                                                                      Chiang already was making
                                                                                                                                                                      upscale contemporary leather

       editorial coverage                                                                                                          graduation from university in
                                                                                                                                   1977, Chiang’s first job was
                                                                                                                                   with a consumer trading com-
                                                                                                                                                                      upholstery in Taiwan for more
                                                                                                                                                                      than 30 years, marketing it in
                                                                                                                                                                      Europe and Asia.

       in Furniture/Today ?                                                                                                        pany in Taiwan. There he sold
                                                                                                                                   home accessories to such U.S.
                                                                                                                                   mass market retailers as Price
                                                                                                                                                                          He also operates two high-
                                                                                                                                                                      end contemporary leather
                                                                                                                                                                      specialty stores in Jakarta, In-
                                                                                                                                   Club and Kmart.                    donesia.
                                                                                                                                       In 1988, Chiang estab-             In 2002, Chiang acquired
                                                                                                                                   lished Woodpark Furniture, a       an industrial tract in Taizhou.
                                                                                                                                   five-factory operation in Indo-    He said he opted to build an
                                                                                                                                   nesia specializing in upscale      upholstery plant there be-
                                                                                                                                   Java plantation teakwood and       cause case goods plants were
                                                                                                                                   wicker furniture for outdoor       already abundant in China,
                                                                                                                                   use. These high-end contem-        and upholstery “represents a
                                                                                                                                   porary pieces are sold to Crate    high percentage of the retail
                                                                                                                                   and Barrel, Smith & Hawken         selling floor.”
                                                                                                                                   and Restoration Hardware as                         — Joan Gunin




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                                                                                                                                   Soflex owner Arthur Chiang stands amid a sea of sofas.
56   FURNITURE |TODAY JANUARY 30, 2008

Industry News


Texas warehouse supports
Soflex’s quick-ship program
FARMERS BRANCH, Texas                 CEO of Soflex’s U.S. division.     containers’ worth of furniture
— Leather upholstery maker            “The main sprinkler valve          per month, said Operations
Soflex supports its imported          broke underground at 4 p.m.        Manager Larry Mendoza.
product with a 120,000-               on a Friday and we were back          Some of the shipments go
square-foot warehouse here            in operation (in a temporary       to a key Soflex customer, PMD
featuring quick-ship delivery,        space) by Monday morning.”         Furniture Direct, a network of       Larry Mendoza of Soflex stands in the 120,000-square-foot
optimally within three days.             At the warehouse, “We           more than 100 licensed deal-         warehouse in Farmers Branch, Texas, that distributes the
    The facility, located near        have the capacity to keep          ers selling upholstery and           company’s leather upholstery. Soflex offers same-day shipping
the North Dallas Design Dis-          product here or, with credit       mattresses under the Royal           for the Chinese imports with delivery in three days.
trict, opened in August and           approval, to ship it the same      Heritage brand.                      dealers in 35 states, that’s a      “It allows retailers to see in-
replaced a warehouse and              day anywhere in the (con-             Jeff Hosking, president and       critical element. My business    ventory in real time,” Schmidt
showroom that was flooded             tinental) United States with       CEO of PMD, based in Colum-          is based on turning inventory.   said. “Dealers can check and
in April.                             delivery in one to four days,”     bus, Ohio, said, “Especially in      Without that, we would not       see if the product they need is
    “We worked through the            Schmidt said. “Our warehouse       today’s economic environ-            be able to achieve that level    available.”
night to retrieve merchan-            staff and management strive        ment, we rely on quick-ship. It      of business.”                       Retailers can order by fax,
dise from water that was two          to have no backlog — no open       ships out the day of the order           The warehouse relies on a    computer or Internet. No min-
inches deep or more,” said            orders, only shipped orders.”      and gets to my dealers within        computer system built by an      imum orders are required.
Tom Schmidt, president and               Soflex ships from 40 to 50      three days at the latest. With       in-house team.                                    — Joan Gunin


     Soflex
from p54
and competitive pricing “to give
our customers a selling edge,”
Tan said. “A trademark of our
product is its high quality and
the ability to meet the strictest
specifications for contract and
commercial furniture applica-
tions. We have instituted and
maintained stringent quality          At the end of a workday, employees head to dormitories.
                                      About half of the factory’s more than 500 workers live on-site.
control measures.”
    Each frame is bench-made
by one person. Upon comple-                                                                                   Sewing is done according to company specifications.
tion, finished frames are put on
a rolling trolley and transferred
to the quality control area for fi-
nal review. Every sofa is tagged
with the names of the individual
cutter, sewer and upholsterer in
case of quality issues.
    “Basically we know who the
parents are,” said Tan.
    Built on hardwood frames          Workers use scissors to cut leather hides, resulting in an
with additional padding, Soflex       efficiently tailored product.
offers a good-better-best story to       Several sofa styles feature     truck or rail to retailers. Custom
the U.S. market:                      removable backs, allowing for      orders are shipped in the same
    At the promotional level,         about 160 seats, rather than       container as a basic order.
the Italiano line features Pire-      110 seats — equivalent to 45%          In addition, 12 “very sale-
lli webbed seating, 1.8 density                                                                               Each Soflex product’s frame is built top to bottom by one person.
                                      more product — to fit inside       able” sofa styles are stocked in
foam and sofas priced to retail       containers.                        Texas for same-day shipping,
from $699 to $899.                       The removable backs also        Schmidt said.
    The midpriced Americana           provide help in moving the up-         Beyond brick-and-mortar
line offers No Sag seating and        holstery and in flat-packing it    players, Soflex has found a
1.8 density foam with pocketed        for warehousing purposes. Us-      niche with online retailers.
coils for added comfort and du-       ing vertical clamps, the detach-       “Every major e-commerce
rability. Sofas are priced from       able back tucks neatly into the    player visited us in High Point,”
$899 to $1,199.                       underside of the frame. Dealers    Schmidt said. He said informed
   For the higher end, the Royale     can assemble the sofa in sec-      consumers like to order online
line offers eight-way, hand-tied      onds for a consumer.               because it affords “a better shop-
drop-in coil seating with spring         Within eight weeks of an        ping experience. … It provides
down cushioning. Retail pricing       order, Soflex containers are       access to a lot of information.”
is $1,199 to $1,599 depending         shipped from Shanghai to               Soflex is developing its Web     A worker builds an entry-level frame using Pirelli webbing
on leather choice.                    Long Beach, Calif., then sent by   site at www.soflexfurniture.com.     construction.

				
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