As the motion upholstery category continues to grow, the search for the winning advantage heats up as major players jockey for position against price pressures and increased demand for customization, power functions and faster delivery. At the promotional to moderately priced levels, the mix of “bells and whistles in power functions has been the key driver in sales this year with China office furniture manufacturer suppliers moving quickly to integrate the power headrest function and, in the second half of the year, to more aggressively add value with premium leather covers as leather prices remained low.
Mike Campbell, president and CEO of N.C.-based stationary and motion supplier Leather Italia USA, said he has seen high demand for leather and distinct move away from synthetic From importers to domestic manufacturers, the natural cover had a big presence during October High Point Market and big impact with imports using premium leather to up the ante in what has been characterized by some China conference desk manufacturer suppliers as a pricing war in imported motion upholstery. “The recent price war created by China motion manufacturers will definitely cause a competitive challenge and negatively affect 2017 volume,” said Randy Spaic CEO of Mississippi-based American Furniture Manufacturing.” Spak said American’s motion business experienced “very modest growth in 2016 in spite of difficult retail business conditions : overall” and expected that the power headrest will be a factor in generating growth for the coming year.
Power functions are wide spread in motion groups and recliners and continue to overtake manual mechanisms in sales and floor space, and the power head rest has been a winner in 2016. Getting honorable mention as a new Guangzhou negotiation desk provider or improved function that may get more attention in 2017 is the power lumbar support, found at Klaussner and Southern Motion in the spring and at Flexsteel Ind. and Franklin Corp. in the fall. “The year is finishing up fairly well for us even as we continue to face challenges with Chinese importers,” said Chuck Tidwell, vice president of merchandising and product development at Franklin. “Our answer to those challenges and our direction is to continue selling our strengths as a vertically integrated manufacturer with a true American-made story that delivers value with the full package of better styling cover to frame, innovation and the ability to deliver four categories of furniture on one truck Dealers are starting to see that its not all about price.”