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.
Earnings rise at Texas Industries
Mel Brekhus, CEO for the building products company, said results improved for the company’s consumer products segments as well as its other commercial divisions. Favorable weather conditions and improved margins helped boost earnings, he said.
“In fact, operating profit for the aggregate segment during the first nine months of the current fiscal year has increased by 35 percent compared to the same period last year and operating profit for the consumer products segment has increased by 80 percent,” Brekhus said. Shipments of ready-mix concrete rose 16 percent in the quarter, the company said in a statement.
So why such positive results while many building materials providers are feeling the effects of a lagging housing market? One primary reason could be that Texas Industries operations are centered in Texas, and “the Texas economy continues to generate a solid overall level of construction activity,” the company said in a statement. Additionally, the company said while in California demand has declined, imports also have declined and prices have increased in both markets.
The company is currently expanding its manufacturing capacity in California, with a new cmeent plant slated to open in June 2008. An expansion project in Central Texas and a newly opened plant in North Texas also have contributed to company’s expansion efforts.
Sears names new key executives
As part of an ongoing restructuring effort, Sears Holdings has named two new key executives of divisions within its home improvement business.
John Froman, formerly CEO of Namco, a regional chain of large-sized family recreation specialty stores, will serve as head of Sears’ tools and lawn and garden divisions. Prior to his time at Namco, Froman served 19 years at Circuit City Stores, most recently as executive vp and chief operating officer.
“John’s wealth of retail experience and demonstrated success in retail operations, merchandising and strategic planning will help us operate the tools and lawn and garden businesses more efficiently and effectively,” said Bruce Johnson, interim CEO and president of Sears Holdings.
Sears also announced the promotion of Douglas Moore to the position of senior vp and president, appliances. Moore was hired as senior vp-hardlines merchandising at Sears Holdings in June 2007. He spent 17 years at Circuit City Stores, most recently as executive vp and chief merchandising officer. He also served in senior leadership positions within sales, operations and installation at Circuit City.
The new appointments are part of a bid, announced Jan. 24, to reorganize Sears Holdings into separate and more autonomous business units, following weak sales performances and lagging earnings.