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Forecast good for permanent botanicals

Kara Cox -- Home Accents Today, December 1, 2004

Coming out of a strong market in High Point in October, permanent botanical industry leaders say business is increasing. Now that the national elections are over, industry insiders are confident this economic boost will continue through 2005 and believe customers are willing to spend more money to get the look they want.

Stephen Snowden, product development manager for NDI, said, "Business is increasing due to the economy. There is some pent-up buying going on." Snowden is happy to predict more of the same for next year.

"The economy is gradually getting better and now that elections are over I think it will get much better," agreed Thomas Hoffman, vice president of sales and marketing for Distinctive Designs.

The Internet also is seen as an important factor in the growth of the permanent botanical industry. Carol Gino, CEO of Floral Interiors, said the Internet is a big emerging channel of distribution for her company.

"Retailers are selling our products online as well as our own personal Web site," giving her company twice the exposure, she said.

Mark Williford, director of marketing for Botanica by LABS, said because of the Internet, "people are finding what's out there before they go to the stores, they're more educated to find what they need."

Industry leaders also believe customers are willing to spend more money for higher quality products and designs.

This means using new components in design or unique containers to make arrangements stand out. Snowden believes the factor having the greatest impact on the permanent botanical industry is the quality and technology of components such as new fabrics that are making silk florals so realistic. Williford said Botanica by LABS tries to find unique containers, "to make the total package more appealing to everyone."

Hoffman also believes technology is having a great impact on the industry, but feels using that technology to create consistency in the product is valuable.

"Consistency, that covers a broad spectrum from consistently good components to great styling of those components, uniqueness in quality and innovation and styling of the finished product," Hoffman said.

Kathie Proffitt, owner and president of Palmyra, sees an increase in spending by customers but attributes it to growth in the interior design business.

"The market has changed," Proffitt said. "People are spending more money and they're spending their money with designers. We work hand-in-hand helping each other."

Across the board, industry insiders agree custom arrangements are extremely popular whether for interior designers or larger retailers.

"Interior designers are still the highest portion of our customers, but we're doing some custom programs with larger retailers that are doing well," Snowden added.

Gino said the key is to "stand your ground and create something that pleases you, otherwise you're creating something they can find somewhere else. Work hard and dream big."

What portion of your company's permanent botanical sales are generated by the following

floral arrangements 33%
trees/plants 25%
greenery arrangements 20%
topiaries/wreaths 12%
preserved/dried arrangements 5%
other 5%

Which channels of distribution does your company sell to?

furniture stores 89%
home accent stores 89%
interior designers 74%
gift stores 67%
mail order/Internet/TV 52%
department stores 37%
discount department stores 30%
other 26%
home textile specialty stores/chains 18%
home improvement centers/warehouse clubs 15%
craft/fabric stores/chains 15%

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