Larry Thomas

  1. Zuo’s Ruesga named to prestigious Furniture Today list

    Zuo’s Ruesga named to prestigious Furniture Today list

    I’ve known Zuo CEO Luis Ruesga for more than a decade, and I’ve always been impressed with his creativity and his willingness to think outside the proverbial box.

     

    So I’m thrilled to report that those talents were recently recognized by Furniture Today – the industry’s most influential trade publication. He was named one of the “20 People to Watch” in its fifth annual People Issue.

     

    An accompanying profile of Ruesga noted his love for the furniture industry, in general, and modern/contemporary design, in particular.

     

    He was also cited for his aggressive posture during the pandemic, when he refused to dial back product development and maintained Zuo’s typical pace of launching about 100 new SKUs at every High Point and Las Vegas market. In order to keep up that pace, Zuo opene

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  2. New survey shows brick-and-mortar retailers are not yesterday’s news

    New survey shows brick-and-mortar retailers are not yesterday’s news

    We came across some fascinating consumer research recently that should give brick-and-mortar furniture retailers some hope. In fact, it should be very uplifting.

     

    The research, conducted by the industry newsletter Home News Now and sister newsletters Casual News Now and Décor News now, found that more than one-quarter of the respondents plan to begin their next furniture shopping experience at a furniture store – even before doing any online research.

     

    Granted, some 31 percent said their first move would be general online research through a search engine such as Google and another 23 percent said they would begin at a furniture retailer’s website. But the fact that 26 percent would begin by visiting a furniture store -- without previously going online -- was kind of heart-warming to this Baby Boomer.

     

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  3. Las Vegas Market strikes positive note amid all the negatives

    Las Vegas Market strikes positive note amid all the negatives

    Despite significant headwinds due to bloated wholesale and retail inventories, high gas prices and fears of a recession, last week’s Las Vegas Market was an upbeat event that included – to the surprise of many observers – a decent amount of order-writing.

     

    Granted, most exhibitors (especially furniture showrooms) described showroom traffic as light to moderate, but we were told that those who did show up were primed to buy.

     

    “Demand is not the problem. Inventory is the problem,” one exhibitor said bluntly. “Dealers still need new product to sell.”

     

    Attendance appeared to be strong from retailers west of the Rockies – many of whom don’t shop the High Point Market – and several exhibitors noted that quite a few major retailers from the Midwest and Eastern U.S. returned to th

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  4. NY Now lounge to spotlight Zuo’s Allison Eden collection

    NY Now lounge to spotlight Zuo’s Allison Eden collection

    Zuo’s recent collaboration with designer Allison Eden will be in the spotlight at next month’s NY Now show when the company returns to the cutting-edge design show for the first time since 2017.

     

    Zuo’s signature mid-century modern furniture – including several pieces covered with Eden’s mosaic-inspired fabrics – will be featured in a high-profile lounge for designers that will be located adjacent to the main show entrance.

     

    NY Now organizers say the goal is to give designers a focal point to reconnect since the organization has not held an in-person trade show in more than two years. Plus, the event likes to highlight works by New York City natives such as Eden. (Her studio currently is in Brooklyn.)

     

    “It gives our audience a chance to experience a fun and elevated take on class

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  5. Container rates are declining – but it’s premature to celebrate

    Container rates are declining – but it’s premature to celebrate

    Finally, there’s some good news about ocean container shipping rates. They’re actually trending down.

    We know that’s hard to believe – especially if you’re a retailer, manufacturer or designer who has watched freight bills rise astronomically the past two years – but the widely-watched Drewry World Container Index is down 16 percent from a year ago. And the consulting firm Drewry Supply Chain Advisers, which compiles the data, believes it will continue to slowly decline over the next few weeks.

    At the end of June, Drewry’s composite index of rates for a 40-foot container on major east-west shipping lanes stood at $7,066. That’s down 16 percent from $8,399 year ago, and down 32 percent from its peak of $10,377 in September 2021.

    But the composite index is still more than double the five-year average rate of $3,490 per 40-foot container, so don’t break out the champagne just yet.

    On the popular Shanghai-to-Los Angeles route used by many furniture manufac

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  6. Travel rebound is fantastic news for hospitality furniture sector

    Travel rebound is fantastic news for hospitality furniture sector

    Thanks to a strong rebound in travel – notably leisure travel – the hospitality sector is finally emerging from its Covid-induced slumber. Despite significantly higher fares, airplanes are crowded again, hotel occupancy rates are on the rise, and some markets are reporting that rental cars are in short supply.

    While that might not necessarily be good news for residential furniture vendors competing for those same discretionary dollars, it’s great news for suppliers of the often-overlooked segment of hospitality furniture.

    The lodging industry, which includes everything from hotels to Airbnb’s to condo rentals to beach houses, is gobbling up new furniture at a rapid pace, while other parts of the hospitality sector such as senior living facilities are starting to freshen up their furnishings as well.

    “It’s a more impo

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  7. Upholstery from the Dominican Republic? You’d better believe it

    Upholstery from the Dominican Republic? You’d better believe it

    Amid the myriad of supply chain challenges facing furniture importers these days, the enormous rise in container shipping costs – especially for goods shipped from Asia – takes center stage. And the seemingly endless delays in getting those containers from an Asian port to a U.S. warehouse runs a close second.

    But the folks at Zuo have developed a very creative end-run around this issue. In addition to ramping up production at its upholstery factory in Mexico, the company recently began making upholstery in the Dominican Republic.

    So you’ve never heard of anyone making upholstery in the Dominican Republic? We hadn’t either – until we got a peek at Zuo’s new product launches at last month’s High Point Market. The lineup included 25 sharp-looking SKUs from the new Dominican Republic factory.

    Yes, the new products must

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  8. Award-winning accent chair illustrates growing importance of casual styling

    Award-winning accent chair illustrates growing importance of casual styling

    A quirky Zuo accent chair suitable for indoor or outdoor use proved to be very popular with design-minded attendees at this month’s High Point Market.

    It was so popular, in fact, that it earned a Market Snapshot “People’s Choice” award from International Market Centers, the owner of several major market showroom buildings. The chair was one of only three furniture pieces to earn the award after online voting in the weeks leading up to the show.

    “I am especially proud of this award because it was voted on by members of our target audience – buyers who have an eye for great design at a great value,” said Luis Ruesga, CEO of Zuo. “It also illustrates the growing importance of casual styling in almost any indoor or outdoor living space.”

    The winning chair, named the Kelley, was one 49 finalists. Voting took place on IMC

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  9. Colorful mosaic patterns highlight new fabric line from designer Allison Eden

    Colorful mosaic patterns highlight new fabric line from designer Allison Eden

    Continuing its aversion to “me too” products, Zuo has partnered with designer Allison Eden – best known for her mosaics on tile and glass – on a line of stunning upholstery fabrics that will be introduced at next month’s High Point Market.

    The new fabrics, which combine her colorful mosaic designs with solid leather and fabric colors, create a unique look that will give retail sales floors a pop of color many times over.

    “I couldn’t be more excited about this new fabric line we’ve developed with Allison,” said Luis Ruesga, CEO of Zuo. “It gives our dealers a way to reach younger consumers with a look they won’t find anywhere else.”

    Ruesga said the new products also should allow the company to expand its customer base with both e-commerce and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. And who knows? They may even be suitab

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  10. Surge in homebuying by Millennials should keep housing market – and home furnishings sales – brisk for years to come

    Surge in homebuying by Millennials should keep housing market – and home furnishings sales – brisk for years to come

    A recent Wall Street Journal article blew holes in the “conventional wisdom” that Millennials prefer to rent and are shunning home ownership.

    Using data from a variety of sources, notably CoreLogic, a California-based company that specializes in housing data, the article demonstrated the exact opposite to be true – even in today’s overheated housing market.

    CoreLogic’s research showed that Millennials accounted for 67 percent of the mortgage applications from first-time homebuyers in the first eight months of 2021, and 37 percent of the applications from repeat purchasers. And this came after a year in which applications from Millennials accounted for more than half of all mortgage applications for the first time.

    Various economists and analysts quoted in the story don’t see that trend reversing itself anytime soon, given

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