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  • Alexa Boschini

Tabletop segments poised to continue growth in 2013

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Decorative accessories comprise the largest portion of the Home Accents Universe at 35%, according to research conducted by Home Accents Today, and the category shows no signs of slowing down.
     Part of the strength of decorative accessories can be attributed to the array of tabletop products available in the category, such as vases, sculptures, collectibles, candleholders and other items. Vendors of functional tabletop products including place settings, serveware and glassware are also reporting strong sales this year.
     Home Accents Today interviewed vendors of tabletop accessories and functional tabletop products for their perspective on the state of these categories, opportunities for growth, and styles and trends as we pass the mid-point of the year.

Business in 2013

Foreside Home & Garden Vice President of Marketing and Design Claire Woodsum said about 90% of her company's business is decorative accessories and tabletop products, from clocks and statement pieces to trays and figurines.
     "Our business is growing quickly," she said. "While our furniture produces higher dollar volume per SKU, accessories are our main focus and what we do best. We expect our accessory business to continue to increase as we are currently launching approximately 300 new SKUs. Christmas is 100% accessories and 20% of our line. We ship considerably more in the second half of the year."
     Homart's business is about 50% accessories and 10% tabletop. Creative Director Julia Long said the company's tabletop segment is expanding, and its decorative accessories consistently thrive.
     "Our decorative accessory category is always a strong Homart seller, tracking just behind garden décor," Long said. "Our fall and winter 2013 introduction had a strong introduction of tabletop. We received a great response to these new collections this season, and it has encouraged us to set our footing further into tabletop and expanding this category."
     Abigails supplies about 60% tabletop and 40% decorative accessories, and Vice President Ned Voelker said business is ticking up in mid-2013 compared to the same time last year. "Our tabletop items seem to be selling best right now," Voelker said. "We anticipate normal growth of approximately 10% to possibly a little stronger in our tabletop category. We feel that our new introductions, glassware in particular, will be the driving force for the remainder of 2013."
     Arte Italica primarily supplies functional tabletop pieces, but Director of National Sales Mary Anne Hairfield said demand for decorative pieces such as urns and vases is increasing. Overall, she said business remains strong in 2013.
     "I think everyone in the industry has had their share of ups and downs," Hairfield said. "One thing that hasn't changed too much is luxury brands, and we're a part of that, so that's been fortunate for us. We've had some really strong introductions, so I feel like business is doing well, and I predict that we'll have really nice third and fourth quarters."
     As tabletop resource Montes Doggett celebrates its fifth anniversary, owner Monica Porter said the company's growth since January has been substantial. "It's been a very gradual growth from the beginning," she said. "This January, it was like a step above what we'd already been seeing. It was very surprising, which was great. This year has been a very good year I think for all tabletop."

What's Selling

In the tabletop sector, classic, sophisticated looks are top sellers. Arte Italica introduced a blue and white ceramic collection called Burano in January, which Hairfield said has performed particularly well. Pewter and pewter/ceramic combinations are also strong sellers for the company.
     "When people look at Arte Italica, they want something that's very traditional Italian," she said. "You think of rich terra cotta, the greens, that real Tuscany look, so we have great collections like Medici and Chianti that really lend themselves to those colors."
     Montes Doggett focuses primarily on white ceramics, but the company is introducing some gold accents into its designs for a subtle, elegant touch. "It's very simple, very universal, very timeless," Porter said. "For Montes Doggett, it's more about the shape. Instead of thinking about how many colors or combinations we can bring, it's about how many shapes can we do this time, or what sizes are being called for in the market."
     Abigails' stemware is selling well this year, and Voelker said the company is also receiving a positive response to its colored glassware. "Our colored tabletop glassware has always been popular and we have several new lines within this category," Voelker said. "We have just introduced a new line of bubble glass (stemless wines and tumblers) in three pastel shades. We will also be introducing a new line of art glass at the New York show in August."
     Long said Homart's cement-cast items like baskets and crates are best-sellers, while patina copper finishes and accessories with faceted surfaces are also capturing attention. "Our Quartz Ceramic Collection is the most harmonious juxtaposition: organic yet geometric, matte exterior and gloss interior, black and white and gray," Long said. "It's a really stunning group."
     Top sellers at Foreside Home & Garden include a new rabbit-themed tabletop collection.
     "Although the consumer continues to watch their wallets, they are still thrilled with the discovery of something so special and absolutely different than what can be found in the typical big box store," Woodsum said. "We still want to personalize our home environments with statement pieces and accessories that reflect our uniqueness and personalities."

Maximizing Sales

Hairfield and Porter agree that in the tabletop category, larger serving pieces are becoming more important as at-home entertaining grows. Porter attributes factors like the popularity of cooking shows and the influx of recipes on social media platforms such as Pinterest with a renewed focus on cooking at home and enjoying meals with guests, prompting consumers to seek the perfect serveware.
     "I think that more than ever entertaining in general (is growing)," Hairfield said. "We really try to bring in different pieces for entertaining like platters and bowls, and smaller things for more intimate parties. Tabletop isn't always about the five-piece place setting. It's really the serving and entertaining pieces that make a really big impact."
     Hairfield said the bridal market continues to be a driving force for tabletop. But she said brides are now drawn to more versatile pieces that can be used in casual or formal settings, and focusing on those changing tastes could present opportunities for tabletop suppliers as they develop new collections.
     Voelker sees direct marketing and social media as an opportunity for growth for both the tabletop and decorative accessories segments. He views showcasing the Abigails line as a unit as an opportunity for retailers to maximize sales, a strategy Long also supports with Homart's products.
     "Display is always essential in maximizing sales," she said. "Showing stacks of plates and bowls together or rows upon rows of glasses visually creates a strong and clean display while giving the customer a candy store experience - once piece of candy is never interesting, but rows upon rows of towering, filled-to the- brim jars most definitely is."
     Creative merchandising is crucial for retailers who want to maximize sales in the decorative accessories category, Woodsum said. "How accessories are displayed is significant to selling opportunities, so investing in interesting fixtures or furniture upon which they can build lifestyle displays is critical."

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