• Susan Dickenson

Americasmart, going forward

Portman shares growth plans, new initiatives at press conference

The ability to change, adapt and implement innovative, out-of-the-box ideas has been a key element in Americasmart’s success over the past 60 years. Going forward, look for the successful family-owned company to bring even more innovation to the wholesale marketplace, as Americasmart looks to broaden its presence domestically and around the world.

That, along with hints of what’s to come, was the theme of a press conference held by Jeffrey L. Portman Sr., vice chairman, president and chief operating officer of Americasmart, Thursday morning during the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market.

“The retail marketplace is always changing - in 60 years of doing markets, we’ve managed to survive and thrive in every aspect of what we do,” he said. “In this business, if you’re not always changing, adapting and looking for new ways to do things, you will not survive, and that concept is more prevalent today than ever.”

Portman spoke to the strength of cross-merchandising across both the Americasmart enterprise and the retail universe, noting the example of an 8,000-sq.-ft. lifestyle store he recently visited in Hong Kong that sold everything from plastic Mardi Gras beads to extremely well-crafted furniture. “The more you have to offer that is relevant and top of mind for the customer, the more successful you’ll be,” he said.

As Americasmart begins a year-long commemoration of its 60th year in business, the company is examining where it’s been, and has positioned itself for the future with several initiatives, including key staff additions: Patti Carpenter, global trend ambassador, and Jenny Heinzen York, VP-Home, who will be developing Americasmart’s business abroad and across the home categories, respectively.

Jeff PortmanJeffrey L. Portman Sr., chairman, president and chief operating officer of Americasmart, speaks at a press conference on Jan. 12 during the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market.
Americasmart is also aggressively growing its gift and apparel segments under the leadership of Mary Sullivan, SVP of leasing for buildings 2 and 3, bringing in new buyers, expanding customer demographics, adding bridal shows and exploring more opportunities vertically and horizontally across the apparel, gift and home buying and exhibition communities.

Portman also spoke about the development and launch of AMC-TV, a programming channel “to bring excitement, entertainment, education and networking in a way that has never been done before,” featuring the ideas and opinions of thought leaders in the industry along with new voices and personalities.

Noting that longer-term developments will be announced in coming weeks, Portman said that for the near term the Americasmart organization is working on initiatives to present a July market that will be “unparalleled” for the industry.

“This will take a lot of work on our part, but we’ll put on the greatest market we can that is different in some ways than what we’ve done in the past,” Portman said. “We can’t accomplish everything we want to in the next six months, but we will make it a market to remember.”

Susan DickensonSusan Dickenson | Editor in Chief
sdickenson@homeaccentstoday.com

Susan Dickenson is the editor in chief of Home Accents Today, where she has spent more than a decade covering trending topics, best practices and news items pertaining to the manufacturing, retail and interior design segments of the home furnishings industry. A graduate of UNC, Dickenson spent 15 years in the Washington, D.C., area, writing and researching in both the public and private sector. After relocating to her native North Carolina in 2003, she freelanced as a writer of general interest, business, garden and home items for local and national publications before joining Home Accents Today in 2006 as retail editor.

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