Arrest on the floor of Housewares Show
A former publisher of a housewares magazine was arrested on the show floor of the International Home & Housewares Show in McCormick Place Sunday, according to the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago.
Ian Gittlitz, 58, was charged with theft of $2.5 million from his former company, ICD Publications, which is based in Lincolnshire, Ill. (Read the article here.) In 2007, Gittlitz parted ways with ICD, publisher of HomeWorld Business, among other titles.
In August of last year, Gittlitz was announced as a partner in the start-up First Look Housewares Show, which was originally scheduled to take place in January 2009, but was cancelled in December.
Trends on display at Housewares Show
By Lisa Girard
Show organizers of the 2009 International Home and Housewares Show point to a “back to basics” philosophy prevalent in America today. Some call it a “cocooning” effect.
This term, which came into prominence after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, describes how consumers are seeking refuge in their homes. “A lot of it is being driven by the economic downturn: when the economy becomes uncertain, people surround themselves with family and friends — things that make them feel good,” said Lisa Weiss, a lifestyle consultant to the Housewares Show. “Americans are shifting their attitudes toward home, which means focusing on traditional values, more entertaining at home and dining at home.”
More than 2,000 exhibitors and 20,000 buyers are expected to attend the show, where some of the industry trends being highlighted include dining at home, storage and organization and cost-saving appliances.
A September 2008 Consumer Spending Survey by Booz & Co. found that 43% of respondents said they had been eating at home more often in the previous six months, while an additional 20% were planning to start eating home more because of the economy. Echoing those findings was a study by Riedel Marketing Group: Of the 100 members of Riedel’s HomeTrend Influencials Panel (or HIPsters), almost half reported preparing dinner at home more often now than two years ago.
According to Paul Leinwand, VP Booz & Co., some of the most important trends in housewares are about green, health and wellness and value. Products that combine some or all of these factors stand to gain the most in this market. For example, multi-functional kitchen electronics like rice cookers with built-in steaming trays are both health-driven and value-added. Or take water filtration systems: by eliminating the need to buy bottled water, these not only cover their cost in a relatively short period of time, but they help the environment by saving on plastic.
“As long as the consumer can see a payoff — not four or five years down the road but within a reasonable amount of time — those products should do well,” Leinwand said.
Peter Goldman, president of the home business unit of NPD Group, a leading market research firm, agrees that practical, multi-purpose items are more likely to do well in this environment, and manufacturers that focus their efforts in that direction are more likely to capture consumer loyalty in the end.
“Consumers are seeking convenience, and they’re seeking value in the investments they make,” Goldman said. “Take a single-serve coffee machine that has tea pods and hot chocolate pods. People are saying, ‘The kids can use it, too.’ So the fact that it’s multi-purpose makes it more appealing.”
Eric Erwin, EVP marketing/product development at Wilton Industries, said that sets will still sell, as long as they represent good value. “If there is a retail perception problem with kits or sets, as Mom sees it, it is putting things into a box that she doesn’t need or want,” he said. “If the set has what she needs, and it is a great value — being the more you buy the more you save — then she will respond to it. The consumer is really smart, and in tough times she is even smarter.”
For Fiesta brand of dinnerware, however, it’s single-product sales that are helping drive the company’s business, according to VP Rich Brinkman. For example, today’s consumer is more likely to buy a component such as a vegetable bowl as opposed to a whole set. Brinkman said it’s helping that his brand is also manufactured in the United States — which fits in with the return to values — and is lead free, as lead has become a concern with Chinese imports in the last 18 months.
Another area that seems to buck the trend, according to NPD research, is small kitchen electronics. The category has seen softening in the last year — particularly the last six months — but there’s still unit growth in the $150-plus category. Since people only need to make these purchases every three to five or five to seven years, depending on the item, they’re willing to stretch the budget a bit more to attain a certain lifestyle, Goldman said, adding, “There are still people out there who are gainfully employed and have the wherewithal to make that investment. The kitchen is the centerpiece for entertaining, and people want to have that fashionable brand.”
As far as the “green” trend goes, Weiss said it was big at last year’s Housewares Show, but the industry may see a slowdown in the growth of environmentally friendly products this year. The simple reason is they tend to cost more. “If there’s one product that’s green and another that’s not, if the cost is equal, consumers would tend to buy the green product,” she said. “But they might not want to spend the extra money, unless that’s a priority for them.”
The slowdown does not apply, however, to energy-saving appliances, which have considerable appeal for a lot of consumers looking for an immediate return on their purchase. “If you’re saving energy, you’re saving money, which will benefit household expenses,” Weiss said.
ABC Supply announces promotions, executive changes
ABC Supply, the Beloit, Wis.-based distributor of roofing, siding, windows and other exterior building products, has named Keith Rozolis as its new executive VP and chief operating officer, reporting to president and CEO David Luck. In his new role, Rozolis will lead ABC Supply’s branch and manufacturing operations and affiliated and divisional companies, as well as continue to oversee ABC Supply’s marketing and merchandising groups.
Reporting to Rozolis are the VP branch operations, the director of marketing and business intelligence and the newly created positions of VP manufacturing operations and VP divisional operations. Rozolis has been with ABC Supply for 10 years, previously serving as senior VP strategic marketing and planning.
Brent Fox has been named VP divisional operations, where he will oversee four of ABC Supply’s business units: Mule-Hide Products, a supplier of low slope roofing systems and solutions; Amcraft Building Products, a private labeler of siding, windows, doors and accessories; ABC Supply’s catalog division; and Town & Country Industries, a distributor of aluminum and storm-protection products. Fox has been with ABC Supply for 26 years, most recently as VP merchandising and purchasing.
Brad Money is the new VP manufacturing operations. Reporting to him are Mule-Hide Manufacturing, a manufacturer of dry-felt and related products; American Construction Metals, a manufacturer of metal roofing systems, rainware, storm protection panels, awnings, edge metals and accessories; and Vande Hey Raleigh, a boutique manufacturer of concrete and slate roof tile. Money previously served as general manager of Mule-Hide Manufacturing.
Kevin Hendricks remains in his current role of VP branch operations. Reporting to him are the company’s five regional VPs.
Kim Hendricks has been named to the newly created position of VP organizational development. Previously, she was a VP at ABC Supply and president of Mule-Hide Products.
Mike Schwarz has been promoted to director of marketing and business intelligence. He will oversee ABC Supply’s marketing research and business intelligence, sales support, pricing, merchandising and advertising areas. He most recently served as manager of pricing and merchandise analysis.
Mary Groessl has been promoted to director of business development. In her new role, she will support new strategic business and operational initiatives, be responsible for ABC Supply’s real estate department and provide oversight of the company’s risk management group. Groessl had been manager of business planning.
Privately owned and operated, ABC Supply operates 380 branches in 45 states. The company ranked fourth on Home Channel News’s Top 350 Pro Dealer Scoreboard in 2008, with sales of $2.6 billion