ITA postpones Showtime North to January 2021

HIGH POINT – The International Textile Alliance has moved the dates of its inaugural dual-city outreach program, created to supplement its November Showtime event.

Designed to connect more wholesale fabric, leather and trim suppliers with buyers who do not want to or cannot travel to North Carolina for its bi-annual fabric market,  Showtime North will not run Jan. 26-27, 20201, at the MahWah, N.J., Marriott Courtyard. It had been set for Nov. 16-17, overlapping the High Point event.

“Based on current guidance regarding limits on interstate travel in the Northeast region, we are postponing the Showtime North event,” wrote the ITA in an emailed statement. “We feel this is the best option for the safety of our members and their customers.”

During Showtime North, mills and converters will be seen by appointment for showings of new collections of textiles, leather and trim for the home furnishings sector – residential, hospitality and contract markets – just as at November’s traditional Showtime.

Through its partnership with the venue, the ITA has arranged for Showtime North to provide safe, personal and private environments in which fabric brands and buyers will be able to meet and show product. The association plans to support this expanded venue as a one-time supplement to its ongoing North Carolina shows and looks to make “even broader connections virtually,” according to an earlier release about the event.

Buyers interested in attending the Showtime North event may visit the ITA website for additional information about exhibitors and registration. Buyers planning to attend Showtime in High Point may pre-register here to prevent lines at check-in.

Companies interested in exhibiting at either or both locations should contact ITA Managing Director Carrie Dillon by email at carrie@internationaltextilealliance.org.

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Ashley completes one of country’s largest rooftop solar installations

LEESPORT, Pa. – Ashley Furniture Inds. has completed installation of one of the nation’s largest rooftop solar energy installations at its production and distribution facility here.

The move is part of a commitment Ashley made early last year to a multi-phase effort to reduce the company’s energy footprint. Already, rooftop solar systems have been constructed and commissioned on two other Ashley distribution and retail centers in Romeoville, Ill., and Lathrop, Calif. Mobilization has started on the next two facilities in Redlands and Colton, Calif.

Soon, the 28,776 roof-mounted solar panels on Ashley’s Leesport operation will produce more than 9.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. This is roughly equivalent to the amount of power consumed by 786 average American households in a year.

Few rooftop solar systems of this magnitude exist in the United States. According to solar PV installation records tracked by Solar Energy Industries Assn., the national trade association for the U.S. solar industry, the project is the largest rooftop solar energy system in the state of Pennsylvania and ranks among the largest commercial rooftop solar installations in the nation.

The Leesport facility’s current annual electrical energy consumption exceeds 10 million kWh, and solar is expected to offset 90% of the facility’s electrical energy needs.

“The solar panel project we have at Ashley is just one more example of Ashley’s sustainability efforts for our global marketplace and local communities,” said Todd Wanek, president and CEO of Ashley. “Besides reducing our company’s energy footprint, we’re also able to save on energy costs which, in turn, can be passed along to our customers.”

Ashley partnered with SunPeak, a leading developer in the solar industry, to design and install the solar systems.

“The project is noteworthy for its scale,” noted Tim Paap a professional engineer and SunPeak’s director of project execution for SunPeak. “It can be difficult to comprehend just how large the system is when you talk about megawatts of power. The entire system takes up 580,000 square feet, or more than 10 football fields, and produces as much power as two locomotives. And it’s on the roof of a facility that would otherwise be unutilized.”

“We need a lot of energy to manufacture our products and it only makes sense to use renewable sources,” said Ashley founder and Chairman Ron Wanek. “This is a long-term investment, not only for Ashley, but for our environment. We are taking proactive steps and hope to see others in our industry join us.”

Ashley’s solar energy initiative will support the company’s advanced manufacturing and warehousing operations, which include IoT (internet of things) systems, automation and robotics, and battery-powered industrial vehicles.

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Magniflex: Gino delivers 8-minute recovery, no off-gassing

PRATO, Italy — Italian mattress manufacturer Magniflex’s new Gino mattress boasts an eight-minute recovery, which the company says makes it one of the quickest expanding boxed bed in the marketplace.

Magniflex has continued to build on its innovation and technology to give consumers an easy-to-deliver sleep solution designed with low VOC-certified materials for no chemical off-gassing upon opening. By eliminating the need to air out the mattress before use, the company says Gino can be ready for sleep in less than 10 minutes.

“We designed Gino to respond to two of the most common complaints about boxed beds: how long it takes for the mattress to recover after opening and the smell from off-gassing,” said Billy Curtright, national sales manager for Magniflex. “We wanted to give our retail partners an edge in the boxed mattress category backed by a strong marketing program and consumer-ready story. Not only have we delivered on that brand promise, but GiNO also provides consumers with a safe, clean mattress in record time.”

Crafted with the company’s signature memory foam, Memoform, and Waterlattex, the mattress offers a 10-inch profile and is packaged in a box designed to look like a spaghetti box.

“We have created a fun, energetic brand that will speak to the younger consumer,” Curtright said. “With the convenience of buying online, direct-to-door delivery and easy, clean setup, GiNO is the first boxed mattress that can be ready to use faster than cooking a pot of spaghetti.”

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Sherwin-Williams Q3 sales up 5%, EPS up 24%

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Paint and wood coatings specialist Sherwin-Williams reported an increase in sales and net income during its third quarter ended Sept. 30.

The company said consolidated sales rose 5.2%, or $254.5 million to $5.12 billion. This was due primarily to higher sales to most of the Consumer Brands Group’s retail customers in all regions as well as continued strong sales in residential repaint and DIY in North American stores in the Americas Group. It also saw a return to growth in the Performance Coatings Group.

The company added that the estimated impact on consolidated net sales during the quarter from COVID-19 was not material, but that it experienced a 3% decrease in the first nine months. Currency translation rates also decreased consolidated net sales by 1.3% during the first nine months.

Consolidated profit for the three months ended Sept. 30 was $875.6 million, up 23.3% from $709.8 million in the third quarter of 2019.

Diluted net income per share rose to $7.66 per share in the third quarter compared with $6.16 per share in the third quarter of 2019.

Net sales in the Americas Group rose 2.8%, from $2.9 billion to $2.98 billion during the quarter, which was due primarily to higher residential repaint, DIY and new residential paint sales in the U.S. and Canada. Sales were partially offset by the impacts of COVID-19 on demand in some end market segments.

Net sales from stores in the U.S. and Canada open for more than 12 calendar months rose 3.1% during the quarter and segment profit rose $83.8 million to $747.4 million in the quarter, from $663.6 million during the same period last year, a 12.6% increase.

Net sales in the Consumer Brands group rose 23.5% to $838.1 million from $678.4 million in the same period last year. This increase was due primarily to higher volume sales to most of the group’s retail customers in all regions. Segment profit rose to $198.3 million in the quarter, up 73% from $114.9 million in the third quarter of last year, which was due to higher volume sales, favorable product mix, moderating raw materials costs and steps the company has taken in the past year to improve its international operating margins.

Net sales in the Performance Coatings Group rose 1.2%, from $1.3 billion to $1.31 billion in the quarter. This was due to higher sales volume and improving demand in most businesses and regions, led by its Packaging and Industrial Wood division.

Segment profit in the third quarter rose to $155.3 million, up 13% from the $137.5 million reported in the third quarter of last year. This was due primarily to moderating raw materials costs and higher sales volumes. Currency translation rates decreased the group’s net sales by 1.4% and decreased segment profit by 4.1% during the quarter.

“Continued and unprecedented strength in our DIY business, solid demand across our residential repaint and new residential segments, and improving demand in our industrial coatings businesses and regions drove our strong third quarter results,” said Chairman and CEO, John G. Morikis. “Improving sales, coupled with favorable customer and product mix, lower input costs and ongoing continuous improvement efforts, drove strong double-digit growth in EBITDA and diluted net income per share.

“Strong cash flow generation in the quarter enabled us to continue making strategic investments across the business while returning more than $500 million to our shareholders in the form of treasury share purchases and dividends, a more than 100% increase compared with the third quarter of 2019.”

Morikis added, “For the fourth quarter, we anticipate our consolidated net sales will increase by 3% to 7% compared to last year’s fourth quarter. For the full year 2020, we expect our consolidated net sales will increase by a low single digit percentage compared with the full year 2019.

“Based on sales at these levels, we are increasing our full year 2020 diluted net income per share guidance to be in the range of $21.49 to $21.79 per share compared with $16.49 per share earned in 2019.”

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Corsicana Mattress launches Cooper Protech collection

DALLAS — Mattress manufacturer Corsicana Mattress has developed nine mattresses and a topper engineered with copper-infused foam, especially designed to withstand robust use.

The Copper ProTech LivePUR collection, which offers good-better-best options, is specifically designed for use in hotels, colleges, the military and other commercial environments. Corsicana launched its hospitality and contract division early last year to manage the company’s growing business with hotels, the U.S. military and the rent-to-own segment.

“The hospitality and contract industries are working diligently to find new solutions so guests can relax in a cleaner healthier environment,” said Rebecca Hewitt, vice president of business development for hospitality sales. “In today’s COVID-focused world, it is inherent that hotels do their utmost to provide the cleanest guest rooms possible to assure travelers a safer stay, and copper mattresses are a great option for them.”

In addition to its germ-fighting and bacterial-inhibiting abilities, copper has also been shown to help improve circulation and reduce inflammation.

“Proper sleep should always renew a person and improve their entire day. Cutting-edge research on the benefits of copper suggests it provides soothing relief of aches and pains by improving circulation, reducing tissue inflammation and regulating sore muscles,” said Scott Miller, vice president of business development for contract and hospitality sales. “So far this year, we have installed our Copper ProTech LivePUR models in more than 50 college dormitories on campuses across the country.”

With 10 factories across the country, Corsicana offers a full range of promotional and step-up products that feature the latest in sleep technology, including innerspring, memory foam and hybrid models, as well as a mattress-in-a-box line.

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Flexsteel sales up 4.9% in fiscal 2021’s 1st quarter

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Full-line furniture manufacturer and importer Flexsteel Inds. reported fiscal 2021 first-quarter net sales of $105.2 million, a 4.9% increase compared with the same prior-year period. Excluding the discontinued vehicle seating and hospitality product lines, revenue rose 17.9%, driven by huge demand for home furnishings in the past three months.

Net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 was $3.9 million, off 59.4% from 2020’s fiscal first quarter. First-quarter 2021 net income was impacted by a $1.4 million pre-tax restructuring expense primarily for facility closures and employee termination costs, a pre-tax gain of $700,000 due to the sale of one of the company’s Harrison, Ark., facilities, and an additional $2.1 million tax expense due to the re-measurement of deferred tax assets and valuation allowance.

Net income adjusted for those items came to $6.3 million, compared with break-even adjusted net income in fiscal 2020’s first quarter.

Flexsteel attributed first-quarter sales growth to strong performance across channels. Sales through retail stores rose 14.8% compared with last fiscal year’s first quarter, while sales of its Homestyles e-commerce line increased almost 40%. The increases in retail and e-commerce channels were partially offset by a decline of $11.1 million vs. the prior year quarter, due to Flexsteel’s elimination of its vehicle seating and hospitality product lines completed in fiscal 2020’s fourth quarter.

In an earnings release, President and CEO Jerry Dittmer attributed Flexsteel’s solid performance to consumers spending more time at home and a spending shift from travel and entertainment to home products.

“The strategic decisions made last quarter to accelerate our transformation and heighten focus on our core retail and e-commerce furniture businesses have made us stronger and more agile to meet surging demand with a more efficient network,” Dittmer said. “The company is financially strong with more than $36 million of cash and no debt. We invested in increased inventories in the first quarter to support our customers and are expecting to receive a record number of inbound shipments in our second quarter to meet continued strong demand.”

He noted that Flexsteel recently expanded capacity with the addition of new production lines in both of its North American plants, and that fiscal 2021’s first quarter saw the business return to operating margins near historical peaks “which we are committed to sustaining going forward.”

“With profitability stabilized and sales momentum strong, we are now pivoting towards strategic investments to drive long-term profitable growth and improve our customers’ experience,” Dittmer said. “While market conditions remain dynamic and could quickly change based on a multitude of factors, our team is competing well, and we are cautiously optimistic in our ability to continue profitably growing the business in 2021.”

Flexsteel also gave an update on its restructuring program and COVID-19 moving forward. The company saw its biggest restructuring impact in the first quarter – $1.4 million – and expects another $1.1 million in related charges for the remainder of fiscal 2021.

Flexsteel continued its reduced quarterly dividend of 5 cents per share during the quarter. A temporary 25% reduction in the salaries of the CEO and CFO/COO and a 50% cash compensation reduction for the board of directors ceased as of Oct. 1. The company has seen improvement in business conditions as retailers have reopened, but noted the industry faces supply chain challenges from labor shortages in Asia, limited availability of ocean containers, and inflationary pressures in key materials. The company continues to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 and will take necessary actions to reduce spend and preserve cash.

Following Flexsteel’s first-quarter 2021 repurchase of $9 million shares of the company’s commons stock, the board of directors on Oct. 22 authorized Flexsteel to purchase up to an aggregate of $30 million of its common stock over the next three years. As of Oct. 26, the company has repurchased 749,257 shares of its common stock at a total cost of $13.7 million during the 2020 calendar year.

Click here for the full Flexsteel first-quarter earnings release.

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