14380 Fri, 05/02/2008 - 4:18pm
By Andrea Lillo
After a year away, the Gourmet Housewares Show returns to the bright lights of Las Vegas for what is to many the tail end of the trade show season, finishing on a high-quality note.
Focusing on the better and best categories, the show will see a number of former exhibitors come back, as well as a concentration on sustainability, with new standards for exhibitors showing eco-friendly products, and a green award.
One of the items on retailers’ lists — besides product — is color. “Color is a big initiative,” said Adam Marland, vice president of housewares for HSN, which will also be “concentrating on gadgets and storage” at the show. Red is “the perennial favorite,” while he is seeing a lot of green and yellow also.
“Color is such a hot topic right now, maybe because there is so much gloom and doom” with the economy, said Janis Johnson, president of the buying group Gourmet Catalog. She added that she will be “looking for things that were unavailable at the Chicago Housewares
show—the trendy things.”
J.C. Penney’s buyers will be on the hunt for ways “to expand and get some more balance with national brands, and [new] ideas,” said Jeffrey Allison, executive vice president of home and custom decorating. Although Cooks, J.C. Penney’s private-label kitchenware line, “has been a huge win, we don’t want it to be the entire story on the housewares floor,” Allison said.
Manufacturers also like the show’s emphasis on the better and best goods. “We have very high expectations as we are re-committing to the specialty store category and, as this show has such a high specialty store attendance, we feel confident,” said Kathleen McDonnell, marketing director for J.A. Henckels, which has returned to the show after a few years.
Saeco USA’s strategy at the show is to “expand beyond traditional retailers,” said John McCann, president. “While the IHA show attracts traditional retail and our current buyers, and is a good time for us to build upon current relationships, the Gourmet show provides an opportunity to reach new channels.”
For Whitford, the show is “more relaxed” than other shows, said John Badner, worldwide business manager, and allows the company to spend more quality time with attendees, which will include a lot of the smaller retailers. “Since they don’t get the attention from the manufacturers as the large stores get, they are very eager to learn more about the basics of new developments,” he said. “The show gives us a chance to talk to retailers who actually talk to the consumers rather than just passing information down to sales associates.”
Cookware company Scanpan is also returning “to test the waters, now that the show is back at what seems to be a more permanent home in Vegas,” said George Bente, president and chief executive officer. The company’s new shop-in-shop displays are more easily set up than in its large booth at the International Home & Housewares Show, he added, making “participation more economical.”
As Sagaform is still a new company in the industry, said Michael Jeansson, president, Sagaform Inc., “it is crucial for us to expose our product line to as many for us new and existing retailers as possible... We are here to validate our presence in the marketplace and to build for the future.”
Lynns Concepts is committed to the gourmet, gift and specialty store category, said Aaron Kawalek, vice president, sales, and “the more intimate size of the Gourmet Show versus the enormity of Housewares Show in Chicago enables the specialty retailer to spend more time looking at product while enjoying quality time visiting with a prospective new resource.”
Furitechnics also hopes to see the smaller specialty retailers that may not have visited at IHA, said Susan Resnicoff, director of marketing. “That’s a portion of our business we don’t want to neglect.”
Sustainability will also take a featured role, since the show incorporates its new “green” standards, of which exhibitors had to meet at least three standards in order to refer to themselves as “green by design,” including the use of recycled materials in making a product or certification by a regional, national or international organization. At press time, about 25 exhibitors had met those standards, though others were expected to be added by the show’s start. In addition, the 2008 Gourmet Gold Awards will, for the first time, include a green award.—Dave Gill, Barbara Thau and Allison Zisko contributed to this report.