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Google Sits Atop Branding Poll

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Would it be difficult to imagine Google furniture in our future?

Don't laugh too hard -- remember Thomas Kinkade, Norman Rockwell, Bill Blass?

The home furnishings business has seen its share of efforts to cash in on brand names with a perceived draw, so why should a search engine be any different?

This week, Google retook first place in a 2005 global poll of the world's most influential brands compiled by online branding magazine brandchannel.com.

The latest survey was compiled from votes from 2,528 branding professionals and students responding to the question: "Which brand had the most impact on our lives in 2005?"

Google, the Internet search engine which has expanded regionally and moved into new markets, last topped the poll in 2003, and reclaimed its top slot from Apple Computer, which came in second this year.

The poll does not take account of economic brand value, which regularly puts Coca-Cola Co. in first place, and disregards a brand's positive or negative public perception (Arabic-language television news network Al-Jazeera was a top finisher last year).

Brandchannel also breaks down results by region. In North America, the top three brands are Apple, Google and Starbucks Coffee Co. The list largely reflects global results. The poll's fourth- and fifth-place finishers in North America are, respectively, retailer Target Corp. and uber-cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Anyone pondering a Google home office brand might want to keep the following in mind: Last Friday, several news reports told of the Internet search engine's stock's largest one-day loss ever over investor concern about the future of Internet advertising and a Justice Department lawsuit regarding Internet searches – all part of the risk that goes hand in hand with the opportunities of hooking up with a name everyone knows.

Ethan Allen Shareholders Learn of Quarterly Dividend

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Nearly a week after announcing sizable second quarter profits, Ethan Allen reported this week that its shareholders will receive their quarterly cash dividend in April.

The oldest dedicated store network said in a release Tuesday that shareholders of record as of April 10, 2006 will receive $0.18 per share on April 25, 2006.

Total sales for the Danbury, Conn.-based manufacturer and retailer rose to $276 million from $245 during the same period the year before, Ethan Allen representatives announced last week.

Quaker Fabric Inks Deal with Chinese Supplier

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Quaker Fabric has signed a deal with a leading Chinese fabric producer to manufacture Quaker's designs in Asia.

Under the terms of the agreement, Hangzhou Zhongwang Fabric Products Co. will also become Quaker's marketing arm for distributing the company's U.S.-made goods to the upper end of the Chinese furniture market.

"This new business relationship represents an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to reshape Quaker's strategy and market position to reflect the realities of today's global market," said Larry Liebenow, Quaker president and chief executive officer. "We have been working on this project for a considerable period of time. Our objective is to recapture that portion of the U.S. and world markets that has moved to Chinese sourcing over the past few years by offering a unique program to our worldwide customers – one that provides a differentiated product range to them that they can count on to meet U.S. and international quality standards."

Liebenow said the company plans to build a sourcing program that allows it to offer both roll goods and cut-and-sewn kits to its customers. Quaker will provide Hangzhou Zhongwang with the fabric designs along with technical and technological support in the manufacture of the product.

In addition to the partnership, Liebenow said the company will continue to manufacture a variety of fabrics in its Fall River, Mass., facilities. Products that will remain domestically produced include custom fabric for quick delivery and new fabrics for the outdoor and contract markets.

Vaughan-Bassett to Open Vegas Showroom

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. will open a permanent showroom in the second building of Las Vegas' World Market Center, scheduled to open in time for the January 2007 market.

When complete, the WMC's second building will give the venue around 3 million total square feet of permanent exhibition space.

"We attended the inaugural Las Vegas Market in July 2005, and we were very impressed with the large number of small- and medium-sized dealers who attended," said Doug Bassett, vice president of sales at Vaughan-Bassett. "We have over 3,000 accounts in the United States, and we need to reach those dealers. We look forward to our first market in Las Vegas when our showroom in Building Two opens in January 2007."

Bassett said the Vaughan-Bassett showroom in Las Vega will be 6,000 square feet.

World Market Center officials say they are excited to have Vaughan-Bassett join the roster of companies leasing space in the second building.

"As a well-known and respected company in the home furnishings industry, Vaughan-Bassett is truly an asset to our growing mix of tenants at World Market Center," said Babs Blair, director of leasing for World Market Center.

Timberlake Up In The Air

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 by Powell Slaughter

A pioneering collection in furniture licensing -- The World of Bob Timberlake at Lexington Home Brands -- is at a crossroads.

Lexington closed the plant producing Timberlake's top-end goods in its namesake headquarters city in December. The artist agreed to offshore sourcing for Studio Traditions, an entry-level collection under the license, a year-and-a-half ago; and for Salt Aire, Lexington's Timberlake introduction from October market.

Production of the Timberlake domestic line has idled since December. For now, stockpiled inventory is being sold.

The future of the relationship is cloudy, though.

"In the short term, we've accepted the fact that our relationship with Lexington is not working, so our company has made some strategic decisions to move in a different direction," said Dan Timberlake, chief operating officer and general counsel of Bob Timberlake Inc., the umbrella company operating the artist's licensing operation and business ventures.

He added that a major announcement regarding Timberlake's licensing program should be made by the April High Point market.

Lexington CEO Bob Stec said that's news to him, and that Lexington and Timberlake haven't had any discussions in a couple of months.

"We came to the agreement that the original product will be made domestically, and the new product will be imported," Stec said Monday, adding that Lexington is still seeking domestic production for Timberlake and that the company has a legally binding agreement to supply Timberlake-licensed case goods and upholstery. "There's no jeopardy of us not making the original line domestically."
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