14573 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 3:33pm
HIGH POINT, N.C.–While the battle goes on at the corporate level for who will ultimately control Furniture Brands International, at the furniture level the new executives running the business said they are making progress in their efforts to get the company moving in the right direction again.
In a recent exclusive interview with HFN, the company’s top marketing and analytical executives, joined by Furniture Brands President Ralph Scozzafava, laid out the corporate strategy, business unit by business unit. And while they didn’t deny there are problems to be addressed, they said they believed things were better, especially considering the overall softness in the furniture sector.
Scozzafava, along with Dan Stone, vice president of financial planning and analysis, and Alex Hodges, chief marketing officer, said the systems and strategies they were putting into place would start to pay off, especially at Broyhill Furniture, which seems to have gotten the most initial attention.
“Now, we have to execute,” Scozzafava said.
Broyhill has a new president, Jeff Cook, and a redefined go-to-market strategy that focus on general distribution to the furniture trade, rather than branded stores. Its upholstered product line especially is being dramatically redesigned.
The second core business unit is the Thomasville and Drexel Heritage brands, focused on vertical operations direct to the consumer. Stone said Furniture Brands has taken back ownership of 11 Thomasville stores in the first quarter and that it would open a new flagship store in Minnesota. “We’re trying to standardize the shopping experience at all stores,” Hodges said.
Stone said emphatically that Thomasville was not for sale, answering ongoing trade speculation. In fact, it will soon launch a new TV ad campaign that represents the largest spending for any Furniture Brands International brand.
The third unit is what the company calls Designer Brands and that is led by Henredon, which was separated from Drexel and put into this group along with Hickory Chair, Laneventure and other units. This reorganization is designed to allow Henredon to refocus on the high-end market with distribution through furniture dealers.
Throughout the company, there is a new focus on understanding the consumer and to that end, there will be more research and marketing. “We’ve been underspending from a marketing standpoint,” Hodges said, “and if we can understand the consumer, then the sky’s the limit.” — Warren Shoulberg