Month: March 2017


4 Ways Ashley Furniture Is Making a Difference in the World

With more than 600 showrooms located throughout 28 countries, Ashley Furniture HomeStore is one of the top furniture retailers not only in the United States, but in the world. While the company has had a monumental impact on the retail furniture industry, it has also leveraged its success to support and empower local communities by providing assistance to individuals in need. Over the past year, several Ashley Furniture corporate social responsibility initiatives have supported communities across the United States. These efforts include:

  1. Hope to Dream

A Hope to Dream logoIn February 2017, Ashley Furniture HomeStore partnered with the Miami Dolphins to host a sleepover party at the NFL team’s practice facilities. In previous years, Ashley has partnered with other teams, including the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars, to host similar events in its Hope to Dream initiative, which provides underserved youth with the experience of a lifetime and years of healthy, comfortable sleep. At the recent Florida event, each sleepover attendee received a brand-new twin-size bed and bedding set—complete with a Miami Dolphins comforter—courtesy of Ashley HomeStore and the Dolphins organization. Organizers facilitated delivery of the new bed sets to the children’s homes, but not before they took part in an evening of fun and games with the Miami Dolphins players, mascot, and cheerleaders. After eating dinner, the kids took part in several fun activities on the practice field, concluding the memorable night with a dance party.

Since 2010, Ashley Furniture HomeStore has set aside a portion of mattress sales from several US locations to fund the Hope to Dream program, providing some 40,000 new beds and bedding sets to children in need across the country. The program not only includes partnerships with professional sports teams like the Dolphins, but it also benefits from local efforts in communities such as Liberal, Kansas, which launched its first Hope to Dream program in December 2016, and North Brunswick, New Jersey, where 50 children recently received new beds in a surprise holiday celebration.

  1. Ashley’s Angels

Ashley’s Angels is Ashley Furniture HomeStore’s all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to providing extra assistance to children from low-income households. It has been a charitable arm of Ashley Furniture since 1997, when a truck driver based at one of the company’s Mississippi facilities rallied the support of his colleagues to help a young girl and her mother find a home. The community set out to help the pair move out of their car and into suitable housing weeks before Christmas, also donating food and clothing to help them get back on their feet.

This act of compassion and community spirit inspired a national movement; now, Ashley’s Angels provides food, toys, bedding, and warm clothing to hundreds of children each year. In 2016 alone, the nonprofit raised $174,385.76, with nearly $75,000 coming from employee contributions. These funds allowed them to serve children throughout 56 school districts near Ashley Furniture facilities in Wisconsin, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. Volunteers worked tirelessly to prepare for event, partnering with school guidance counselors and nurses to identify children who could benefit from a bit of extra help. In addition to shopping for new toys and clothing, volunteers also put together a full Christmas dinner for each recipient family. All in all, the effort helped to brighten the holidays of 1,056 children.

  1. Salvation Army Partnership

salvation army

Image by Mike Mozart | Flickr

For the past seven years, Ashley HomeStores in Jacksonville, Florida, have served as leading partners in the annual Salvation Army Angel Tree initiative. The stores are consistently the top distributors of Angel Tree tags, helping thousands of community members brighten the spirits of local children throughout the holiday season. Ashley HomeStores have made the Angel Tree initiative so well-known in the Jacksonville community that eager shoppers often head to showrooms to pick out their angels before the Salvation Army even begins advertising the annual initiative.

Ashley Furniture HomeStore and the Salvation Army have provided anonymously donated holiday gifts for 35,000 children since the program’s inception, serving 4,300 kids—as well as 780 senior citizens—in 2016 alone. In addition to helping to distribute the holiday angels, Ashley employees also assist in storing the gifts and have even begun to volunteer at Salvation Army Toy Shop distribution centers.

  1. Dollar a Week

Ashley Furniture Industries provides an easy opportunity for employees to give back via its Dollar a Week program, which consolidates regular employee contributions to provide significant donations to national organizations. In December 2016, the program demonstrated the impact that even modest amounts of sustained charitable giving can have on worthwhile causes.

After collecting charitable donations from employees throughout Mississippi, Ashley Furniture donated $35,471.03 to Le Bonheur’s Children’s Hospital, a comprehensive pediatric health care center recognized by US News and World Report as one of nation’s best hospitals. Ashley Furniture has supported their life-saving work since launching the Dollar a Week Program in 2006. Since then, the company has donated over $120,000 to Le Bonheur’s Children’s Hospital.

Las Vegas

This Is What Happened at the 2017 Winter Las Vegas Market

Las Vegas MarketFrom January 22 to 26, 2017, the home furnishings industry convened once more for the Winter Las Vegas Market. As the only furniture market on the West Coast and one of the fastest-growing furnishings exhibitions in the western US, the Las Vegas Market is a biannual opportunity for furniture professionals to study and shop the latest trends, forge new partnerships, and develop their professional knowledge.

In recent years, this biannual destination for the global furniture and home-goods community has experienced a rapid increase in popularity. This year’s Winter Las Vegas Market was a record-breaking affair that welcomed an unprecedented crowd to an expanded space featuring global leaders in furniture retailing and design.

A Record-breaking Crowd

Attendance levels at the 2017 Winter Las Vegas Market left no doubt regarding the event’s status as the fastest-growing home furnishings destination in the western United States. The 2017 trade show was the largest Winter Market in the event’s 10-plus-year history, welcoming buyers from all 50 states and approximately 80 countries.

Attendance increased by multiple percentage points in several visitor categories, including a 3 percent increase in interior designers and a 13 percent increase in guests attending the market to buy gifts. Included within the market’s growing audience of designers was an influx of attendees within the furniture, home décor, tabletop, and gift exhibitor categories. The market also enjoyed an increase in attendance from states outside of the southwestern US, with attendance from the Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast growing by 6, 9, and 14 percent respectively.

This marks the second year in a row that the Las Vegas Market has smashed attendance records for its annual winter event. The 2017 Winter Las Vegas Market was also the first time that more than 4,000 brands occupied the event’s expansive showroom space. Despite the increase in options, marketgoers still reported an increase in business activity throughout the furniture, gift, and home décor areas.

A Growing International Audience

Las VegasThe Winter 2017 Las Vegas Market’s record-breaking attendance included an unprecedented level of participation from the international home furnishings community. The nearly 100 furniture, home décor, and gift companies present at the market, including a dozen of Canada’s leading furniture retailers, as well as a surge of attendees representing such noteworthy Mexican brands as Muebleria Placencia and Ace Home Center. Suppliers from countries including Australia, China, France, India, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and several others were also present, while American distributors highlighted hundreds of additional international brands—such as Sunpan, Corliving, and Ivena International—on their own showroom floors.

The Las Vegas Market is taking a number of steps to embrace its growing international audience. For the first time, the event provided Spanish translations of popular resources such as its Market 101 video and First Look program, while Julio Cesar Chavez, president of Mexican interior design association Sociedad Mexicana de Interioristas, presented an exclusive trends and design seminar for Spanish-speaking attendees. In addition, the 2017 Winter Las Vegas Market also hosted an International Buyers Lounge complete with refreshments and on-site interpreters, as well as a roundtable discussion that solicited insight on the market experience from some of Mexico’s top home furnishings retailers.

Expanded Space

The largest Winter Las Vegas Market to date took place across 40 distinct showroom floors and 600 temporary exhibits, encompassing 5 million square feet of product resources. This included 170,000 square feet of new or enlarged showroom space, the bulk of which allowed the market to expand its furniture offerings.

For its 2017 Winter event, the Las Vegas Market significantly expanded the lobby of Building B to highlight new designs from Abbyson Living and CDI Furniture, showcase a number of new bedding brand expansions, and provide space for the growing number of casual furniture brands such as Noble House and Winston Furniture. In addition to featuring expanded or showrooms by leading brands such Anne McGilvray and Feizy, the 2017 Winter market also welcomed first-time exhibitors like Destination Gifts and Sales Producers.

The Best of the Best

Las Vegas

Following the close of the Las Vegas Market, event organizers recognized the 12 top exhibitors from the furniture, home décor, casual/outdoor, and gift categories in the biannual Best Booth contest. Focusing specifically on brand that created temporary exhibits, a four-person panel of judges drew on their extensive industry experience to select the firms’ whose energy and creativity yielded engaging, inspiring, and on-trend displays. In addition to eight Best Booth winners from the home-goods and gift categories, the contest also highlights four furniture exhibitors: EdgeMod Furniture, IDO Furniture Co., Byer of Maine, and Phu Tai J.S. Company.

The 2017 Winter Las Vegas Market also featured the 11th iteration of the Design Icon Award program, which gives attendees a chance to learn from the most influential individuals in the industry as it honors them for their contributions to design. This year, the program honored Timothy Corrigan, an award-winning designer who has not only launched several exquisite furniture collections, he has also created timeless and elegant spaces for a number of high-profile clients.

Looking Forward

The 2017 Winter Las Vegas Market offered home furnishings industry members an incomparable opportunity to study the latest trends, advance their strategies, and forge new partnerships. Several attending business leaders praised the experience as the best market yet; Amalfi Home Furniture executive Claudio Fraschetti commented,
“the Market a year ago was fantastic and this one topped it! The buyers we saw were ‘cream of the cream’ and commitments were made at the show on the spot.

Undoubtedly, this impressive performance has industry stakeholders looking forward to the next Las Vegas Market, which is set for July 30 to August 3, 2017. In addition to the continued expansion of showroom areas, the summer market highlights will include the annual “Up on the Roof” charity gala in support of Gift for Life, the ANDYZ interior design awards, the Ahead of the Curve design insight series, and numerous other attractions. Those planning to attend can expect exciting new product resources and categories that will beckon them to follow the organization’s theme, “Discover the Extraordinary.”


What to Expect at the Spring 2017 High Point Market

High Point MarketIt’s that time of the year again—the spring High Point Market is quickly approaching! Twice annually, the High Point Market Authority welcomes over 75,000 furniture industry professionals to High Point, North Carolina, to explore the latest products, styles, and companies driving new trends in the industry. With the event set for April 22-28, organizers have begun to release details about the guests, seminars, and exhibitors that will make this High Point Market another must-see event.

Over the course of a single week, more than 2,000 exhibitors will introduce tens of thousands of new products across 11.5 million square feet of showroom space. Here are the facts you need to know as you prepare for the largest trade show in the furniture industry:

Influential Speakers

ASID logoThe High Point Market recently announced the launch of its Keynote Series presented in partnership with the American Society of Interior Designers and the Home Furnishings Association. On opening day, attendees will hear from two innovators who have valuable insights to offer furniture retailers and designers alike. While addressing some of the most important trends impacting the home furnishings sector, these well-known business leaders will also offer opportunities for attendees to earn continuing education units (CEUs).

HFA logoIn “Design Disruption: How Wellness and Sustainability Is More Than a Trend,” designer and entrepreneur Robin Wilson explains how the “clean design” methodology can help companies address consumer health concerns and promote an eco-friendly lifestyle while providing attractive designs to shoppers. As founder and designer at Robin Wilson Home, she has sold over $80 million in non-toxic, hypoallergenic textiles and cabinetry.

The Keynote Series will also feature Google strategist and marketing development manager Andrew Leonard, who will offer insight into how Google products can help furniture retailers drive traffic to their showrooms. Entitled “Turn Web Traffic Into Foot Traffic,” his presentation and Q&A session will explore how emerging technologies such as advanced mobile computing and virtual reality can create new marketing opportunities.

The Latest Trends

Each High Point Market is a unique opportunity for industry members to explore the latest offerings from retailers and designers. Last spring, trends such as mixed wood pieces, artisanal designs, brass, and simple geometric styles were front and center in many show rooms. The more recent 2016 Winter Market featured the introduction of a new Capel Rug collection, Hancock & Moore’s Urban Logic seating line, and—after a decade—the return of lifestyle home furnishings supplier Abbyson Living.

To document and relay trends and happenings such as these, the High Point Market recruits a team of Style Spotters. Comprised of leading home furnishings designers, the team highlights the new styles most responsible for turning heads during each market week. In the High Point Market Winter/Spring 2017 Style Report, the Style Spotters draw on the trends seen during the winter market to predict what colors, patterns, textures, and materials furniture buyers will see in showrooms in the coming months. Among the vast array of emerging trends are the reinterpretation of classic diamond patterns and use of indigo hues in carpeting; a rise in sculpted and chiseled artisanal pieces across multiple décor categories; an increase in transparent pieces in a variety of materials and textures; and the return of chinoiserie designs inspired by classic Asian patterns.

Social and Educational Events

The spring High Point Market will feature numerous opportunities for attendees to sharpen their professional knowledge and network with fellow industry members. The diverse array of product categories represented at the market makes it possible for professionals from all corners of the home furnishings industry to forge new business relationships and meet up with existing partners, identify new marketing and management opportunities, and even meet with industry consultants.

The market’s many educational workshops and demonstrations will span topics including digital transformation in the furniture sector and strategies for success in the design, development, and sale of home furnishings. In addition, the High Point Market is partnering with the American Society of Interior Designers to host Design Viewpoints, a series of seminars offering business development ideas tailored specifically for professional designers. Other educational lectures and workshops include “Furniture Development: An Insider’s Look from Inspiration to Creation,” “The Digitally Empowered Consumer is Already Here, Are You?” and “4 Pillars for Success in Today’s Retail Economy.”

Offering a chance to mingle, unwind, and—in many cases—enjoy complementary refreshments, the High Point Market’s many social engagements are a great way to take a break from a long day of browsing showrooms. Noteworthy events include a “Cocktail and Canapés” event marketing the launch of Steve Leung’s new line of home goods for Theodore Alexander; the Sunset on 3 balcony soiree hosted by IMC; and Leathercraft Inc.’s Sit & Sip Southern Style Meet and Greet, which will introduce guests to designs by Corey Damen Jenkins and the new Jarrett Bay Collection design team while offering an opportunity to enjoy wine and beer from local North Carolina microbreweries.


The Premium Market Is on the Rise – Here’s What You Need to Know

The furniture industry has recently witnessed a surge in the sale of premium products across a number of product categories. Defined by Nielsen as those products selling for at least 20 percent more than the average price in a given category, the premium market is experiencing historic growth following a lengthy slump, mirroring changes in the broader global economy. Here’s what you should know about the renewed popularity of high-end furniture.

The Trend

The luxury furniture market thrived during the late 20th century, with a diverse array of high-end retailers based in nearly every major American city offering premium furnishings at major showrooms across the country. This period of prosperity all but came to a halt during and in the years following the 2008 financial crisis, with no signs of returning to its previous activity. That is, until now.

couchIn a recent survey, Furniture World magazine found that 80 percent of polled industry executives expect purchasing volume within the premium sector to grow in 2017. Their predictions align with recent data from Market Research, which projected that the international luxury furniture market will grow at a compound annual growth rate exceeding 4 percent between 2015 and 2019. In response to this trend, 61 percent of furniture retailers surveyed by Furniture World plan to expand their high-end furniture selections over the next 12 months.

The specific product categories impacted by the increased demand for high-end items reflect larger trends in the furniture industry. This growth extends to individual product categories including the outdoor furniture sector, which is poised to grow at a rate of 3.95 percent per year between 2017 and 2021. It also includes luxury furnishings designed for smaller urban spaces and versatile needs, such as modular kitchen furniture and multifunctional pieces for the living room, bedroom, and office. Additionally, researchers expect the lighting category to grow even faster than other luxury categories in the coming years, projecting a compound annual growth rate of 8.3 percent.

The Causes

Economic prosperity

The surging popularity of premium home furnishings stems largely from the improving global economic climate. In a recent research report, Nielsen attributed the sector’s growth to increasing consumer spending and buying power worldwide. This applies to both large purchases such as furniture, as well as smaller purchases in the burgeoning markets for premium personal care items, foods and beverages, beauty products, and more. A Nielsen survey found that exceptional quality and superior performance are the top two most commonly referenced features of premium products, and consumers are now feeling financially secure enough to seek out this heightened value.

International markets

furnitureThe resurgence of the luxury market also has geographic roots. Europe currently leads all other international markets in the sale of luxury home furnishings, but a number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region—including China and India—are also seeing a surge in high-end purchases for the home. The Asia Pacific market, along with Latin America and the Middle East and Africa, are significant drivers of the growing global demand for luxury furniture—in part due to their thriving hospitality sectors. In the coming years, new upscale hotels in key locations like Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Doha, Qatar, will have a need for the finest luxury pieces.

The growing demand for luxury furniture from the hospitality sector is influencing design trends. While wood has been the most popular building material in recent years, the hospitality sector is expected to make glass one of the fastest-growing materials by 2020. The rapid growth of the high-end hospitality sector is also driving the popularity of luxury lighting.

Environmental and social consciousness

In addition to offering impressive quality, a number of premium products are made by manufacturers committed to responsible sourcing and sustainable design. In many cases sustainability is the core feature on which a company bases a product’s premium price point. And according to research by Nielsen, 42 percent of consumers are willing to pay this premium cost for products containing organic or all-natural ingredients or materials. Some 39 percent of respondents said the same for products made from sustainable or environmentally friendly materials, while 31 percent felt the same for products demonstrating social responsibility.

The environmentally sustainable or socially conscious nature of a product is one of many qualities that may engage a customer’s desire to connect with his or her purchases. As customers seek out premium products for their enhanced quality and, oftentimes, reduced environmental impact, they also seek furnishings that offer unique experiences. More and more, furniture shoppers are basing their purchases on how products make them feel, and the specialized and exclusive feel of premium home furnishings is perhaps one of the sector’s most significant draws. The return of the premium category poses new challenges and opportunities for furniture retailer marketing teams, as they work to sell not only materials and designs, but unique feelings and experiences to shoppers seeking the finest products for their homes.