K/BIS to kick off next week in Chicago

The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) will kick off next week in Chicago, from April 11 to 13 at McCormick Place. The event includes a conference starting one day earlier on April 10.

The show has seen an upswing in certain exhibitors, including cabinet-makers, stone surface manufacturers and tile manufacturers, according to show organizers, because of new exhibits planned in those areas. The show this year includes a cabinetry pavilion and a “Natural Stone and Tile Pavilion.”

Major retailers are homing in on kitchen and bath categories for the new year, particularly with the new interest in do-it-for-me projects. Craig Menear, executive vp-merchandising for Home Depot told company investors Feb. 26 that the company would be focusing on kitchens and bath fixtures as two categories where the company would like to build share in 2008.

At Lowe’s, the past year saw some strength in the kitchen and bath categories. President and COO Larry Stone said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call that, “In rough plumbing we had success with our clean air and water filtration programs.”

Additionally, Bob Hull, executive vp and CFO at Lowe’s said the company saw strength in fashion plumbing and appliances -- two categories that performed above average in 2007.

“Although the slowdown has affected many of the manufacturers who are deriving much of their sales from new housing, we have found that highlighted the remodeling sector has a more promising outlook,” explained show director Cory Smith, vp-kitchen and bath for Nielsen.

Smith pointed to a market research study conducted for K/BIS that highlights the do-it-for-me category as a source of new strength. While bathroom remodeling projects are projected to fall by 14 percent in 2008, bathroom do-it-for-me projects are expected to grow by 22 percent, he said. In all, kitchen and bath do-it-for-me projects are expected to rise by 12 percent in the next year.

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