One of North Carolina’s most iconic furniture brands is gunning for a place in the homes of more affluent customers. Heritage Home Group, parent company of Thomasville Furniture, is hoping to reignite the 112-year-old brand by associating it with the company’s high-end product lines, including Drexel Heritage and Henredon.
The change is part of a realignment of the company’s sales workforce. Many retailers who carry the company’s other high-end brands also sell Thomasville; now those dealers will have to work with only one representative for ordering and creating showroom displays. Thomasville previously was counted among the company’s mainstream brands, including Lane and Broyhill.
“We found that we have many more loyal dealers who choose to purchase Thomasville, Drexel Heritage and Henredon than dealers who purchase Lane, Broyhill and Thomasville,” says Laura Holland, vice president of marketing and communications for Heritage Home. The higher-priced luxury brands are sold through a wider network that includes interior designers and boutique stores, Holland says.
Thomasville started making chairs in 1904 and was a bulwark of North Carolina’s furniture industry for generations. Missouri-based Furniture Brands International bought the company for $331 million in 1995; by then, the shift to overseas production was accelerating. Furniture Brands filed for bankruptcy in September 2013 and was acquired by private-equity group KPS Capital Partners. Renamed Heritage Home, the company moved its headquarters to High Point from St. Louis the next year. While it makes upholstered products in Lenoir, Thomasville no longer operates in its namesake town. Most of its wood furniture is made in the Philippines.
Hoping to give the brand more modern flair, Heritage has worked with veteran designers Jena Hall and Anthony Baratta on new offerings. The company also plans to expand its 17-year-old Ernest Hemingway line, which Holland says is “undeniably one of the most successful licensed collections in the industry.”
The global furniture industry is growing at 6% to 7% annually, with demand for luxury lines fueled by stronger housing sales and rising disposable incomes, according to CIT Group, a New York-based lender. The U.S. market for high-end furniture is expected to reach $9.2 billion by 2023, based on a report by Portland, Ore.-based Allied Market Research.
People who buy Thomasville furniture are primarily couples in their 40s who want pieces that “won’t date too quickly,” Holland says. “We believe that they will invest in furnishings to get something worthwhile.”
Paul Burks, owner of Rex Venture Group and CEO of ZeekRewards, was convicted on four counts of fraud and conspiracy for his involvement in the $900 million internet Ponzi scheme based in Lexington that defrauded more than 900,000 victims (cover story, June 2015). Burks, 69, faces up to 65 years in prison and $1 million in fines. The verdict followed a three-week trial.“Burks used deceit and dishonesty to engineer an extensive Ponzi scheme. … This massive scam is one of the largest in breadth and scope ever prosecuted by this office,” U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose said in a news release. A lawyer for Burks did not respond to a request for comment.
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BURLINGTON — Medical-testing company LabCorp will acquire San Diego-based Sequenom for about $371 million, including debt. Sequenom makes prenatal tests to screen for conditions including Down syndrome. With revenue exceeding $8.5 billion in 2015, LabCorp employs about 50,000 people worldwide.
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GREENSBORO — The first classroom building at Union Square Campus opened last month. The 84,000-square-foot facility is a joint venture of N.C. A&T State University, UNC Greensboro, Guilford Technical Community College and Cone Health. Future nurses and other health care professionals will train at the $37 million center.