Country’s production capabilities, speed to market in wood and upholstery could make lines appealing to many buyers
HIGH POINT – Introductions in case goods and upholstery from Mexico could be among the most talked about products at this week’s High Point Market thanks to renewed interest in Mexico as a sourcing partner.
This obviously has to do with shorter lead times that allow product to be shipped across the border in a matter of days once the product is loaded on a truck compared to weeks on the water from Asia.
But it also has to do with still high container costs still in the $20,000 range for spot rates out of Asia that are forcing many in the industry to look to other source countries in the western hemisphere.
The product being shown at market comes from companies that have sourced from Asia for years, as well as those who are newer to the country.
For example, Marge Carson, which has been sourcing in Mexico for some 25 years, is launching new Mexico sourced product across several key categories including upholstery, bedroom and occasional. It also is launching several new wood finishes for its Mexico-sourced product.
The company, which abandoned its Asian sourcing last year to focus entirely on Mexico, said that the new product has 8-14 week delivery times.
“Retailers tell us that product availability and timely deliveries are their first priority,” said Jim LaBarge, Marge Carson’s CEO in a statement. “Beyond timely deliveries, they are looking for stability of pricing. Since we exited Asian importing and consolidated our production and warehousing in North America in early 2021, we’re able to achieve 8 to 14-week lead times on current and new products. And because we don’t have the huge ocean freight costs, we’re able to offer very competitive values on custom-made products.”
Martin Furniture CEO Jim Goergen told Home News Now that two-thirds of the mix in its new showroom in Market on Green is from its long-time Mexico factory with the balance coming from Asia. In the past, some 85% of its mix would be from Asia, as much of the Mexico production was devoted to commercial office groups.
The mix at market will include some 100 new pieces. This includes Mexico-sourced product ranging from clean-lined small-scale home office groups made with laminates and wood veneers all the way up larger l-desk configurations and library wall units. There are also entertainment units from Mexico, but the bulk of the offerings are in home office, Goergen said.
The bigger push out of Mexico is timely in that it was being developed just as freight rates out of Asia were starting to rise.
“We are definitely heavier on our Mexico product,” Goergen said, noting that much of the home office assortment was shifted from Vietnam. “We made a conscious decision to think about product out of Mexico and knew we wanted to do cleaner lines and smaller-scale product that brings fresh looks to the marketplace.”
He added that the cleaner line designs also complement the capabilities of Martin’s Mexico factory.
“That is a key driver, and the near-shoring capability helps in terms of flowing the product better and faster,” he said, adding that even the smaller-scale product out of Mexico ships fully assembled. “And with ocean freight still being elevated, we have a competitive edge even compared to bringing it in on a flat-pack basis from Asia.”
Horizon Home, which ships exclusive out of Mexico, also sees itself having a competitive edge in the market due to its long history of working with factories in the Puebla and Guadalajara regions.
It is launching three value-priced bedrooms this market – two veneered sets and one solid wood set – aimed to compete with similar goods coming out of Asia. The company has had the idea in mind for some time, but was slowed during the height of the pandemic as product development took a back seat to goods that were more readily available, said Felipe Orozco, vice president sales.
“Now that things have settled, you can sense that people are tapping on the bricks,” he said of interest in the marketplace and also the desire to source new goods from Mexico. “With the impact and higher costs still coming out of Asia, it has allowed me do more product design I would not have done two years ago…Now it makes sense to go after those looks.”
In addition, he noted, it opens the door for Horizon to make the types of bedrooms once selling out of Asia at $1,499 retail that are hard to find of late as they are priced much higher due to higher freight costs. His three groups are expected to retail from $1,699 to $1,799, which he believes is still competitive to what’s available in similar looks from Asia. Plus they are expected to ship in as little as eight weeks after market.
In addition the company is showing seven upholstery groups also produced in Mexico that include sofas retailing from $799 to $899 and sectionals retailing from $1,599 to $1,699. Modular configurations retailing from $1,999 to $2,199 also are available.
“We have already started shipping them,” Orozco said of the groups, which also showed at the recent Las Vegas Market. “We have orders going out every week.”
Other companies also sourcing upholstery and other furniture out of Mexico with new products on tap this market include Zuo Modern, Urban Roads and Porter Designs. Urban Roads has been working with several Mexico plans over the past two years to bring Mexico-produced values in upholstery and Porter is launching new groups of its own from Mexico this week at market, including at least 10 in its new sustainable “The Good Earth” line.
And Whom Home, which has its own dedicated factory in Mexico, is launching 40 quick-ship fabrics along with 60 pieces of middle to higher end upholstery, wood furniture and accent pieces. The “factory to retailer direct” offering is offering custom product that is ready to ship in four to six weeks from the time of order.
Standard Furniture has been sourcing from Mexico for the past two years, giving it a leg up on some of the competition in the middle price points that have just gone to Mexico more recently.
Its lineup this market will be 60%-70% Mexico goods with the rest being from Vietnam.
The Mexico mix will include 30 introductions over wood and upholstery including seven bedroom collections featuring four-piece sets retailing from $1,099 to $1,999 that can be shipped on mixed truckloads in roughly seven weeks after market. The balance of the wood product is in entertainment, occasional and accent pieces.
“On the Mexico side, it is a little heavier now,” said Jay Peters, vice president, merchandising. “We will still have some Asia product we are showing, but the ocean freight is tough right now.”
The Mexico product also includes 10 upholstery groups, with seven sectionals and the balance being sofa, loveseat combinations. Sectionals are expected to retail from $999 to $1,899 and sofas will retail around $699. Lead times on the upholstery are roughly five weeks with groups expected to hit retail in as little as six weeks.
Elements International also has a big offering of goods from Mexico, where it has been sourcing for the past several years since its acquisition of Largo International.
Company President Mike Wurster said that retailers have an appetite for Mexico produced goods, largely due to the lower freight costs and shorter lead times.
He said the latest offering, which includes wood furniture and upholstery, is a culmination of the work the company has done developing product in Mexico over the past few years with additional vendors producing more samples across different categories.
“We are also finding more factories can do both mdf and veneer,” he said. “Everyone thinks of Mexico as solid pine, and we are happy with that too, but having that (mdf and veneer groups) as an offering helps us keep our customers in the promotional price points, whatever the new promotional price points are.”
He also noted that solid wood groups can have a tendency to split depending on the climate, which makes veneered and mdf groups more suitable for some markets in the U.S.
Lifestyle Enterprise launched its first bedroom out of Mexico last fall. However, as those didn’t perform as well as the company hoped, it has gone back to rethink the line with three new laminate groups and seven veneered groups being shown at market.
“We dropped it,” company President Derrick Ng said of the solid wood groups, noting that it is difficult to control issues such as moisture content and cracking on solid wood product. “The quality was not up to the standard we are looking for. We freshened the line with more promotional looks and lifestyle looks within promotional…We decided to do what we are familiar with and do what we are doing in Asia.”
He said the big push this market is on the laminate groups, which are expected to retail roughly from $599 to $699 for a bed, dresser and mirror. The other seven will be veneered groups that can mix and match designs with a range of modern, transitional and traditional designs.
“We will test the water to see how it works in the U.S. market,” Ng said of the veneered groups.
Sunpan also is showing Mexico product, having tested the waters last year with two bedrooms and three dining sets. Having tweaked some of the product, the company is now adding to the mix with two new bedrooms at market and two new bar cabinet/console units.
Target retails for a bed dresser and nightstand range from $3,499 to $6,499, while table and four- chair sets retail from $2,999 to $5,999. Some sets are available now or expected to be available in the company’s warehouse in June and can be purchased from the warehouse or by the truckload, said Roland Maddrey, key accounts manager.
“My feeling on this is that right out of the gate, it has been a great opportunity for us,” Maddrey said, noting that as with any new venture, the company has taken time to learn the capabilities of the factories and has worked with the manufacturing side to refine the product mix. In addition, he said, it will take some time to see how well product that is now getting on floors retails.
But he is optimistic about the prospects, noting that the product is much different from some of rough-hewn, rustic looks people tend to associate with Mexico.
“What we have on the floor is very sophisticated with well-designed modern and contemporary styles,” he said. “And the quality is excellent.”