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Environmental Sustainable Products Council to Meet

By Home Furnishings Business in on February 2006 Started last October at the High Point Market, the Sustainable Furniture Council is making strides toward changes in the furniture industry by encouraging manufacturers to promote sustainable forestry and sourcing practices.

The council is planning a meeting during April market in High Point, but the time and place has not yet been determined.

Since the last meeting, Gerry Cooklin, chief executive of South Cone Furniture and the founder of the SFC, said all of the company's that attended have been contacted about membership levels and benefits.

"The response has been fantastic," he said. "We are also developing a memorandum of understanding with the Rainforest Alliance, that spells out the assistance and benefits they can offer to Council members."

The alliance works with companies and organizations in bringing responsibly produced goods to the marketplace.

"The Rainforest Alliance is very excited to see an industry led initiative to encourage and promote sustainable forestry and sourcing practices," said Daphne Hewitt, project manager for the Rainforest Alliance's TREES program. "We're looking forward to working with council members as they realize the benefits of this important initiative."

The SFC has two objectives – to assist manufacturers in adopting sustainable practices, and to promote sustainable products.

Cooklin said to meet the first objective, the SFC will guide members to full certification under wood harvesting standards established by the Forest Stewardship Council – the most respected sustainability standards in the world.

"Members who achieve certification will then join together to educate consumers about the value of sustainable products and show retailers how sustainable furniture raises their profile with a very desirable consumer demographic," Cooklin said. "The market for sustainable goods is growing quickly."

Leggett Declares First Quarter Dividend

By Home Furnishings Business in on February 2006 Leggett & Platt has declared a first quarter dividend of $.16 per share, a 6.7 percent increase over the $.15 dividend during the same quarter last year.

The dividend will be paid on April 14, to shareholders of record on March 15.

Leggett's first quarter results will be released after the market closes Thursday, April 20 with a conference call at 9 a.m. EST on Friday, April 21.

Havertys Declares Dividend

By Home Furnishings Business in on February 2006 Atlanta-based retailer Havertys has declared a cash dividend to be paid on the two classes of $1 par value company's common stock.

The dividend is payable Tuesday, March 21 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Monday, March 6. The dividend for outstanding shares of common stock is $0.0675 per share, and for outstanding shares of Class A common stock is $0.0625.

Harden Reorganizes Sales Management

By Home Furnishings Business in on February 2006 By Powell Slaughter

Case goods manufacturer and importer Harden Manufacturing has set up a new level of regional sales management with twin goals of stronger support for its sales network and more personalized service for its dealer base.

Lee Scott, formerly national sales manager, has been promoted to vice president of sales and will oversee three regional managers in addition to managing Harden's representatives in the southwestern United States.

Reporting to Scott are Danielle Grimes, sales manager for the Southeast region; Doug Pickard, Northeast and the Carolinas; and Brett Tilley, Midwest region.

Grimes recently joined Harden from promotional case goods manufacturer Higdon Furniture, where she had been national sales manager. Doug Pickard is another recent addition at Harden – he comes from Brown Jordan, where he was vice president of the outdoor manufacturer's division targeting home furnishings retailers. Tilley had spent a year in Harden's intern program, which develops recent college graduates for management positions in the company.

At this week's Tupelo market, Harden Mfg. CEO Craig Smith explained the reasons for the new sales management structure.

"When you have 42 sales representatives across the country, it's hard for one (manager) to get around to visit all our customers with them," Smith said. "We wanted to give each region a more personal touch. Our company has always been about service, and we felt that adding this new management level will improve that service."

Each regional manager has about eight sales representative reports.

"That means they can spend two or three weeks a year on the road with each rep and spend more time with our dealers," Smith said. "It gives our reps someone they can turn to at the factory who's really focused on their accounts."

In addition, Harden's in-house customer service personnel now support specific territories.

"This way our in-house customer-service group takes more ownership of each account," Smith said.

Developing new talent is a priority at Harden, and Tilley is the first graduate of an internship program that takes new college graduates with management potential through all aspects of the company. Before joining Harden, Tilley graduated from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, where he also played baseball, not far from the manufacturer's Haleyville, Ala., headquarters.

"We have another young man in training through the program, but he's a year away from taking a management position," Smith said.

Leon's Q4 Profit Up 15 percent

By Home Furnishings Business in on February 2006 Toronto-based furniture and appliance retailer Leon's Furniture is raising its quarterly dividend and making a special payout after reporting strong growth in sales and profit in its latest fourth quarter, boosting net income about 15 percent to $19.7 million.

The profit amounted to $1.04 per share diluted and compared to net income of $17.1 million or 89 cents a share in the same period last year.

Total sales jumped 8.3 percent to $224.8 million in the three months ended Dec. 31, from $207.5 million in the comparable period a year before.
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