Broyhill Evolves Into High Profile Brand

December 16, 2002

Lenoir, N.C. (USA) — One of the most widely recognized brand names in the United States is becoming a household name internationally as well. Said Mac McCall, vice president of international and contract sales for Broyhill, "Certainly in the mind of the dealer and to some degree in the mind of the consumer, Broyhill is a brand name that is recognized worldwide."

Already, Broyhill has had a presence internationally for more than 40 years. But with the backing of the No. 1 volume furniture company in America, Furniture Brands International (FBI), Broyhill is a force to be reckoned with in the global upholstery arena. Located in St. Louis, Mo., and headed by CEO W.G. Holliman, FBI boasts revenues this year of almost $2.6 billion dollars, with some of the top furniture companies — Lane, Henredon, Drexel Heritage — in its fold.

And with upholstery sales overall strong at middle price points and soft at the high end due to the slowdown in the economy, Holliman expects Broyhill to remain a leader. In June 2002, he reported: "Since the beginning of the year, we have seen order strength in the middle- and upper-middle price categories, particularly at Lane and more recently at Broyhill." Then, in September 2002, he issued this report: "As the third quarter has progressed, our business in the middle price points (primarily Broyhill and Lane) has remained strong."

Broyhill began manufacturing furniture in an area of the United States where many companies sprouted due to the abundance of hardwoods: North Carolina. Broyhill began modestly in 1912, manufacturing bedroom and dining room furniture. It added upholstery in 1926.

The company now offers upwards of 400 upholstery selections, and as many as 600 cover choices in leathers and fabrics. "Arguably, it is the broadest line of any manufacturer in the world," said McCall. Carrying this line are 6,200 retail locations worldwide, including 340 dedicated Broyhill Showcase Galleries, and more than 475 Broyhill Furniture Centers.

With Broyhill popularity among American consumers, McCall said, "It is definitely a growth opportunity and objective" to market product to the world.

According to McCall, the primary areas of focus outside the U.S. are: Canada, Mexico/Latin America, Saudi Arabia/Middle East, and the Far East with an emphasis on Japan and Korea.

McCall said the reason the five areas are a source of concentration is because "60 to 70 percent of all United States furniture exports are consumed by those areas. As a result, our strategy is to go where the opportunities are."

A strength for Broyhill worldwide is the "American-made" label, but the bigger appeal of the Broyhill line to international retailers is the broad selection. "The unique challenges, as you look at each part of the world are the specific needs requirements and expectations. Because we have such a broad line, we can address any need," said McCall. "If we're going to sell in the United Kingdom, we have to comply with their set of standards. If we are going to sell in Japan, we have to make adjustments in terms of scale. But these are minor adjustments to accommodate their needs."

Other than tweaking here and there, Broyhill offers the same general lineup to both the U.S. and international customer, said McCall.

Those strengths are maintained through a system of frame design and fabric selection that includes a merchandising team of three: Roy Calcagne, Debra Venti, and Mike Delgatti.

"We decide which trends are livable and will have mass appeal based on what we're seeing in magazines, in the fashion industry, and by shopping many different retail stores," said upholstery merchandise manager Venti.

"Three years ago the market was flooded with beige chenilles, and we offered a lot of beige chenille. But now it's about color and pattern. And leather is a huge part of our business. Venti said fabric and leather selection involves staying within a niche. We typically won't go higher than $12 to $14 a yard, and those fabrics are usually bought for pillows and accents."F&FI

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