DENNIS SEID: Furniture market jockeying kicks off

DENNIS SEID

DENNIS SEID

The furniture industry, according to many analysts, is in decent shape.

Certainly, the last quarter of 2013 was dominated by what was going on at what was once Furniture Brands International, and its subsidiary, Lane Furniture Industries.

Furniture Brands, now Heritage Home Group, has a new owner. We don’t know exactly what they have planned, but we do know the investment group KPS Capital Partners has given a lifeline to Lane, Broyhill, Thomasville and others in the former Furniture Brands family.

Hopefully, all those brands – and others in the industry – will enjoy a prosperous year.

Jerry Epperson, an investment banker and furniture analyst, wrote in Furniture Today that 2013 was a very good one for eight of the largest furniture stocks in the country. Collectively, shares of Bassett, Ethan Allen, Flexsteel, Hooker, La-Z-Boy, Stanley, Culp and Havertys rose 49 percent. Epperson said those stocks rose 39 percent from Dec. 1, 2011, to Dec. 1, 2012.

Those numbers leave out Furniture Brands, which saw its value drop 99 percent.

In Northeast Mississippi, several companies have expanded and are hiring. Always a good sign.

They’re gearing up for trade shows to sell their wares to retailers and customers across the country.

Which brings us to this week.

It’s furniture market time.

No, not in Tupelo – that’s next month.

But between now and then, there are at least three other markets.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the inaugural Tunica Furniture Market will be held. Last month, market cofounder Scott Morton, a former furniture sales rep, said more than 40 companies would be exhibiting at Harrah’s and other locations in Tunica.

What was thought to be a pipe dream seems to be happening after all. Morton said he was putting it together to benefit those small retailers who needed merchandise in their stores before the busy tax season. And for some furniture manufacturers, they want to get their stuff in retailers hands before tax season as well.

We’ll find out just how well Tunica plays out.

Industry folks have long complained of too many markets.

Here’s the schedule over the next two months: The Atlanta Gift and Home Furnishings Market is Tuesday through the 14th, the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market is Jan. 15-21, the Las Vegas Winter Market is Jan. 26-30 and the spring Tupelo Furniture Market Feb. 6-9.

Has Tunica affected the other markets, particularly Tupelo?

With only 40 exhibitors, likely not. Tupelo Furniture Market officials say exhibition space is all but sold out, and more than 12,000 have preregistered for their market.

Can everybody get along for the benefit of the industry? Probably not, because it’s always been a fractious bunch.

But maybe it will wind up being a happy new year for everybody.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.