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Wall Takes Helm at WithIt

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Kathy Wall has been named 2006 president of WithIt.

Wall is president of The Media Matters, a Lexington, N.C.-based marketing company. She succeeds Robin Campbell of Stanley Furniture in the WithIt role.

The organization also announced its board members. Members of the executive committee for 2006 are: Jackie Hirschhaut of the American Home Furnishings Alliance is the chairman of the board; Kelly Peterson of the Hearst Group is vice president/president elect; Brenda Plowman an industry consultant is secretary; and Darlene Leonard of BDO Seidman is treasurer.

New vice presidents/committee chairs are: Margaret Fontana of Anthem Leather heads up financial; Sev Ritchie III of FurnitureFan is the marketing chairman; Leslie Newby of Brand Communications heads up media; Mary Frye of HFIA is in charge of membership, Mary Frye; Sharon Kepley of Woolrich is in charge of mentoring; Jean Welch of Haverty's heads up education; networking is led by Phyllis Zaepfel of ProfitSystems; and, scholarship/foundation is headed up by Betty Lynn Eller of Country Living magazine.

"This board will be challenged to enhance WithIt's reputation for providing support to professional women in home furnishings careers by demonstrating tangible benefits for members," Wall said. "In addition to growing membership, communication efforts will include raising industry awareness about the wellspring of talent the organization represents."

Established in 1997, WithIt provides educational and mentoring programs to benefit hundreds of participants and corporate sponsors annually.

Regional vice presidents are responsible for organizing events and opportunities for members in their areas. They represent their membership to the board. Serving in this role are: in San Francisco, Linda Carey, Ruddell & Associates; in Atlanta, Christina Mairs, Bernhardt Furniture, in Texas, Lynn Gerber-Jenkins, Phoenix Art Group; in Florida, Liz O'Brien, Carter & Star International; in Los Angeles, Laura Weinhofer, GERS; in Chicago, Barbara Jenkins, Kincaid Furniture; and in the Virginias/Carolinas, Susan Inglis, From the Mountain.

Named as at-large board members, representing various segments of the industry, are: sales representative, Tracy Denton, Sealy; accessories manufacturer, Kae Pak, Toyo Trading; case goods/upholstery manufacturer, Kathleen Holterman, French Heritage; showrooms/buildings, Ann Richards, MMPI; retail, Deb Linkhorn, Morris Home Furnishings; and supplier, Patty Toler, MGM Transport.

Pier 1 Added to Dow Jones Index

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Home furnishings retailer Pier 1 has been added to the Dow Jones U.S. Select Dividend Index, replacing Hudson United Bancorp.

The change to the index will be effective at opening of trading on Feb. 1. Hudson United Bancorp is being removed because it was acquired by another company.

The Dow Jones U.S. Select Dividend Index includes 100 stocks derived from the Dow Jones U.S. Total Market Index, a broad-market benchmark index that represents about 85 percent of U.S. market capitalization.

NFM Hosts Survivor Tryouts

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Nebraska Furniture Mart in Kansas City, Kan. was flooded last week with about 200 hopeful "Survivor" contestants eager to prove they have what it takes to outlast others vying for $1 million on the CBS reality show.

The four-hour event, sponsored by the local CBS affiliate, was one of 48 casting calls being held across the country between Jan. 7 through Feb. 3.

Nebraska Furniture Mart isn't new to such tryouts. The mega-store has hosted auditions before for "Survivor" and has also opened its doors for auditions for "The Apprentice" and the "Amazing Race."

Furniture Brands Offers Dividend, Repurchases Stock

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 The largest home furnishings manufacturer in the country reported late Thursday, just one day after announcing fourth quarter earnings 33 percent lower than the previous year, its plans to repurchase more of its own stock.

Furniture Brands International Inc. authorized the repurchase of $50 million of its outstanding common stock over the next year. This comes in addition to an existing plan to repurchase $100 million of the stock.

The furniture manufacturer -- known for its Broyhill, Lane, Thomasville, Henredon, Drexel Heritage and Maitland-Smith brand names -- also said it will increase the quarterly dividend by 6.7 percent, to $0.16 per share payable Feb. 24 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 6.

Furniture Brands reported fourth-quarter earnings this week that were less than the previous year, but higher than expectations. The profits for 2005 decreased by $30.2 million from the year before.

Furniture Brands Reports Smaller Earnings

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Furniture Brands International reported this week its net income for the year ending Dec. 31.

The furniture manufacturer reported a net income of $61.4 million, a decrease of $30.2 million compared with $91.6 million reported last year. Sales for the year were $2.39 billion, a 2.5 percent decrease compared with $2.45 billion for the previous year.

In the fourth quarter, the company made $17.1 million on $593.5 million in net sales. That compares with net income of $22.3 million on $602 million in sales during the same quarter of 2004.

Included in the fourth quarter earnings were restructuring, asset impairment and severance charges of $1 million, compared with similar charges of $1.5 million during the fourth quarter of 2004.

Year-end results were impacted by restructuring, asset impairment and severance charges totaling $13.9 million, compared to similar charges during 2004 of $5.9 million.

Mickey Holliman, chairman and chief executive officer, said the company continues to see a difference in revenues across its brands.

"Weakness at Broyhill was partially offset by revenue increases at Thomasville and revenues were essentially flat at Lane and HDM," he said. "Lower volume at Broyhill combined with raw material price increases across all our brands contributed to the year-over-year earnings decline. The combined effect of these was partially offset by selected price increases and ongoing cost savings programs."

Holliman said the company is pursuing strategies to drive growth and profitability.

"Our senior management team is focused on building our brands through aggressive marketing, product development and consumer research," he said. "The consolidation of back office and manufacturing operations of our high-end brands is on plan. Our logistics and supply chain, procurement and retail development processes are being streamlined across all our brands."
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