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‘It’s Still Bad’: Supply Chain Giving High Point Market Attendees Hard Time

While the vibe at the recent spring High Point Market felt more positive, and traffic continues to grow since the onset of the pandemic, supply chain woes still cast a shadow over business at the home furnishings trade show.

According to the High Point Market Authority, the spring edition saw an increase in attendance from individual companies of 3.3 percent over the October 2021 show. But that number still fell 19.2 percent short in comparison to fall 2019. The number of individual attendees not part of a company group increased 4.4 percent over October 2021, but was still down 17.2 percent over fall 2019. These figures were based on pre-registration and on-site registrations.

But some companies skipped the market, with supply chain issues presenting enough of a problem to prevent them from opening their showroom doors. Four Seasons furniture, which specializes in custom sofas and chairs with removable slipcovers, decided to sit this market out. A large sign on its showroom said, “Four Seasons has decided not to show at the April Market. We are using this time to fulfill customers’ orders. We look forward to seeing you in October.”

Even for those who opted to come to market, supply chain and shipping disruptions meant some new product didn’t make it in time for the show. At Barlow Tyrie, a U.K.-based maker of teak outdoor furnishings, some of the new pieces it expected to debut at the market didn’t arrive in time.

“It’s still bad—about the same as it has been for the last eight months,” Charles Hessler, executive vice president at Barlow Tyrie, said of logistical backlogs. “It’s getting more difficult to get space in containers on ships coming out of Indonesia. And we’re even starting to have trouble getting containers out of England. We’ve been trying to get containers here since the beginning of March and they’re still not here.”

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According to Hessler, Barlow Tyrie, which sources from Indonesia, won’t be able to deliver new orders until late summer or early fall, meaning the company has sold out for this summer. He said when the company does receive containers of new product, it’s usually already sold before it reaches headquarters.

And while some product has made it through, Hessler said Barlow Tyrie keeps running into the issue of incomplete orders, or product unable to ship because of logjams in other areas of the supply chain.

“All of the supply chain is a problem. We’ve run into issues of shippers running out of cartons for chairs, so they can’t send them to us,” he said. “We had a lot of early buy orders placed with us in June and July of last year, and only half the goods are here. Those buyers are getting angry, saying, ‘what are we going to do with chairs and no tables?’”

While the supply chain certainly dominated many conversations at market, another “s” word—sustainability—continued to pop up in showrooms and events during the show.

Trend watchers at Fashion Snoops’ home trends seminar heard forecaster Jaye Mize talk about the incorporation of sustainability in wellness, particularly in the bedroom, and that theme certainly showed up in market showrooms.

At Bedding Industries of America, for instance, sustainability and its relationship to wellness have been a major focus. The company recently partnered with U.K. mattress maker Millbrook Beds to launch a sustainable mattress line made with with cotton, hand-sheared wool and CertiPUR-US certified plant-based foam.

Bedding Industries of America is making sustainability a priority.
Bedding Industries of America is making sustainability a priority. Jennifer Bringle

“More and more people are becoming aware of allergies, and they’re also realizing many products are not necessarily natural—they’re still processed,” said Matthew B. Connolly, executive vice president at Bedding Industries of America.

Connolly said sustainable and natural design has become important across the company’s brands, including the Ernest Hemingway line, which is made with natural latex and wool, and its Natural Dreams line, made with natural Talalay latex.

Connolly said Bedding Industries of America has seen an uptick in demand for sustainable beds in twin sizes, particularly in their Harvest brand, which is made with organic cotton and natural latex.

“We’re definitely seeing more interest in twin beds because of parental concerns,” he said. “Because wellness is becoming a big issue for their children, as well, they want to be sure their kids are sleeping on something that’s natural and healthy.”

Sustainable sleep was the aim at Greenington this market, as well, with the launch of its sustainable bamboo Santa Cruz bedroom collection. Crafted of solid sustainable bamboo, the bed, dresser and chest feature a wheat finish with contrasting black steel accents. The bedroom collection was just one of the company’s eco-friendly offerings this market, with dining, office and accent pieces also made from sustainable bamboo.

Greenington may be one of a spate of High Point Market exhibitors that will see customers in a revamped space next market. That’s because the building that houses their showroom—the International Home Furnishings Center (IHFC)—will see a major reorganization and revamp leading up to the fall market in October. The 3.5-million-square-foot building—the largest at High Point Market—is owned by International Market Centers (IMC), which announced this market that it will embark on a multiphase reorganization to move similar companies together onto contiguous floors in the IHFC.

The move will place furniture companies on seven adjacent floors with two more floors dedicated to lighting and accessories. The fifth floor will be deemed a “designer destination,” with a mix of accessories, lighting and rugs from such brands as Palmetto Home, Zuo, GTR Leather and Rizzy Home, among others.

As High Point Market continues to rebound and grow, IMC hopes this move will make it an easier shopping experience for future attendees.

“The IHFC updates are just one element in IMC’s ongoing plan to update our furniture and home décor presentations in Atlanta, High Point and Las Vegas,” said Scott Eckman, executive vice president and chief revenue officer, IMC. “We are actively launching initiatives to expand our offerings to attract new business channels and improve the overall sourcing experience.”