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Google Exec to Join Select Comfort Board

By Home Furnishings Business in on May 1, 2013

Specialty bedding retailer Select Comfort Corp. (NASDAQ: SCSS) has named Google's Daniel Alegre has been appointed to its board of directors, effective May 14.

Alegre is president of global partner business solutions for Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). 

"We're very pleased to welcome Daniel to our board," said Shelly Ibach, president and chief executive officer of Select Comfort. "We expect to benefit from Daniel's deep digital expertise and strength in strategic operations as Sleep Number continues to advance the customer's experience in this rapidly changing consumer environment. In addition, Daniel's significant global experience and perspective will be advantageous as we progress our long-term strategy and drive increased value for our customers, employees and shareholders."

Alegre, 44, joined Google in 2004 and became president of global partner business solutions in November 2012. Prior to this appointment, Alegre was president of Asia Pacific and Japan, overseeing all business operations in the region. He joined Google as vice president of Google's Latin American and Asia Pacific business development. Previously, he served as vice president of business development for e-commerce at Bertelsmann, spearheading partnerships and acquisitions.

Alegre fills the seat vacated by past chairman and current member, Erv Shames, who will be leaving the board May 14, consistent with the board's succession planning process.

Selik One of Elite 40 Group

By Home Furnishings Business in Community/Charitable Support on May 1, 2013

Jeff Selik, president of Hillside Furniture in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., has been named to the Elite 40 Under 40 class of 2013 for Oakland County, Mich.

Chosen from more than 350 nominees, each of the 40 under 40 members is "excelling in his or her field while giving back to the community."

Created by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, the list identifies young entrepreneurs and businesspeople who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, initiative and dedication in pursuing their careers and are improving the quality of life in their communities. 

"They are creative entrepreneurs today and will be the leaders of our communities tomorrow," Patterson said.

In his position as president of Hillside Furniture, Selik, 39, is committed to furthering the movement of Oakland County, through his company's philanthropic efforts as well as pushing the standard for technology and innovation within his field.

"And from what I can see, having read through more than 100 resumes, the future of Oakland County, and for that matter, the future of our region and our country is indeed secure, full of hope and promise." Patterson said. 

Katie Hatch Joins LightHeaded

By Home Furnishings Business in Executive Changes on May 1, 2013

Industry veteran Katie Hatch has been named chief intuition officer for LightHeaded, a Park City, Utah-based bed manufacturer.

In her new role, Hatch will lead the company's strategic merchandising and product development. She has been working with the company informally for the last eight months, according to Dennis Forchic, CEO and president.

"She brings to our team 20 years of experience in furniture design, global sourcing, and merchandising," he said.

Lightheaded offers beds that feature headboards with LED technology that allow children (and parents) to change out the imagery as children grow and interests change.

The company's first collection of beds include a sleigh bed, a Shaker design, a transitional look and a more modern design. All the beds are solid wood and wood veneers and coordinate with traditional or transitional homes.

Hatch is based in Santa Barbara, Calif., where she is the principal of Katie Hatch Design, a home furnishings product development company. In addition to product design, she specializes in trend forecasting, strategic merchandising, and global sourcing.

LightHeaded was started in 2011 in a garage. Shortly after its start, Forchic acquired the company and technology. In 2012, he partnered with Lifetime Products in Salt Lake City.

Furniture Insights: Feb. Orders Off 3%

By Home Furnishings Business in economic news on May 1, 2013

February new orders for furniture fell 3 percent compared with the same month last year, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey.

Orders through 2013's first two months remained 2 percent ahead of last year, according to the monthly survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors conducted by High Point accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard.

The results were not unexpected.

"We had heard through much of February and March that business had slowed somewhat," said Smith Leonard Managing Partner Ken Smith. "January's 7 percent increase had followed declines in November and December so it is likely that there may have been some timing issues with the January results. While overall there was a slight decline, the individual results were very mixed as approximately 58 percent of the participants reported increased orders for the month, but those increases were not enough to offset the declines in pure dollars."

February shipments in 2013 were off 2 percent from February 2012 but up 3 percent from January 2013. Year-to-date, shipments rose 4 percent over the first two months of 2012. Some 61 percent of the participants reported increased shipments for the first two months.
 
Backlogs fell slightly (1 percent) from last year, but increased 5 percent over January as the dollar volume of orders exceeded the dollar value of shipments.
 
Receivables were up 2 percent over February 2012 and were even with January.

"February shipments rose 3 percent over January, so it appears that receivable levels continue to be in good shape," Smith said.
 
Inventories rose 7 percent over last year but that increase was down from a 9 percent increase reported last month. Inventories fell 7 percent from January levels.

"We had mentioned last month that these levels need to be watched," Smith said. "It appears that the levels are declining along with the softness in business."
 
Factory and warehouse employment rose 3 percent over February 2012, the same increase as the prior month. Employees was 1 percent above January levels.
 
Factory and warehouse payrolls rose 1 percent over last February and 4 percent from January, when payrolls were 5 percent higher than January 2012. Year-to-date, factory and warehouse payrolls rose 3 percent over the first two months of last year.

"Some of this is likely the result of some pay raises that were given last year, the first ones in some time," Smith noted.

In summary, Smith believes the residential furniture industry will benefit from the improved housing situation.

"New construction will take a bit longer to see the results, as the homes have to be built and then sold before any furniture will be bought, but we believe existing home sales will help the industry until the new homes can have some more effect," he said. "We had pretty much heard in conversations prior to Market that business was 'somewhat all over the place.' When we described it as maybe like a kids roller coaster, most tended to agree. While some were outside the norm, it just seemed that business was good one day, soft the next, maybe non-existent one day, then good again the next. The key has been trying to string together a good week or two."

That led to fairly low expectations coming into the recent High Point Market, but Smith reported a strong show.

"We know all exhibitors are excited with new product when they come to town, but too many times when it is all over, the excitement goes away," he said. "Well, certainly not this Market. At least not in the circles we covered. We haven't seen this much enthusiasm in quite some time, even late in the Market. We talked to quite a few exhibitors on Monday and Tuesday and all were extremely pleased."

He heard comments such as "Best Market in 5 years" and "Best Market since 2006 and 2007."

"We even heard one say 'Best Market ever,' though we imagine he had forgotten or didn't know what really good markets used to be like," Smith said. "Let's keep our fingers crossed that this momentum carries forward. We know that many dealers wanted to freshen their floors. Hopefully as the housing sales demand more furniture, the new product will entice even more sales."

Brown Jordan to Open Retail Flagship Store

By Home Furnishings Business in Store Openings on May 1, 2013

Luxury outdoor furnishings vendor Brown Jordan will open a new retail showroom at the South Coast Collection in Costa Mesa, Calif.

The South Coast Collection is a destination for southern California design professionals and design-savvy homeowners. The flagship store, located at 3323 Hyland Av., is scheduled to open on May 1 and will feature the Brown Jordan's first retail design gallery, which includes lifestyle accessories for interior and exterior use.

€œWe have obtained a spacious, high-profile corner location to set the stage for Brown Jordan€™s innovative designs," said Brown Jordan President Chris Carmicle. "Costa Mesa is one of the world€™s largest luxury shopping destinations and the optimal location for us to launch our latest collections. The showroom will allow clients to experience a broad range of our iconic furnishings through an interactive form in an inspiring environment.€

The new Brown Jordan showroom at SOCO will display award-winning furniture collections by such designers as Richard Frinier, Michael Berman and John Caldwell, as well as a selection of luxury home goods. The store will offer free design services provided by its staff of Brown Jordan sales representatives.

€œSOCO is a vibrant marketplace drawing a clientele that truly appreciates great design," Brown Jordan Chief Brand Officer Steve Elton said. "We are excited to bring Brown Jordan furniture to such a unique and appealing venue. I think that our clients will be very pleased with the design-centric shopping experience that is offered at SOCO and the extraordinary pieces they will find in our flagship store. Brown Jordan exemplifies the casual elegance of the southern California lifestyle, and our new hybrid showroom brings the brand closer to the community."

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