Furniture in the News

The furniture industry is constantly changing. New companies and innovations are announced. Venerable brands declare bankruptcy, close factories or lay off workers.

New products are introduced. Old products are recalled. “Furniture in the News” allows my readers to keep up-to-date with the latest innovations and be ahead of potential problems like store/factory closings and supply chain challenges.

Most of the news summaries are excerpted from Furniture Today, the leading trade publication for the residential furniture industry. My updates will appear at random intervals, including only those news items I consider most interesting to the general public.

Serta Simmons Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

BY Jeff Frank

Doraville, Ga.-based Serta Simmons Bedding will close its third factory this year later this month.

Summarized from a Furniture Today article by Sheila Long O’Mara//Executive Editor.

Serta Simmons Bedding and 13 of its U.S. affiliates filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company announced the filing was “voluntary” and “pre-arranged.” SSB has entered into a restructuring support agreement with “key financial stakeholders” to reduce the company’s debt and all the company to “continue making critical investments in its business and brands.”

In the filing, the company lists its liabilities at between $1 billion and $10 billion, and its assets as between $1 billion and $10 billion.

Owned by Advent International, SSB also includes two of the mattress segments most iconic brands. In addition to Serta and Simmons, online brand Tuft & Needle,  acquired in 2018, is also part of the company’s portfolio.

According to the company, the restructuring agreement will reduce the company’s funded debt from about $1.9 billion to about $300 million and allow SSB to continue investing in its business. The company has received a commitment for a $125 million exit asset-based lending (ABL) credit line available upon SSB’s emergence from Chapter 11.

The company has also obtained a debtor-in-possession financing in the form of a $125 million ABL credit line. If the court approves the new financing, the company said it will use the funds along with about $170 million of cash on hand, and cash generated from ongoing operations to support its business.

SSB is seeking court approval to support its operations, including paying employee wages and benefits and to support customer programs and product warranties, during the restructuring proceedings.

In addition, the company has asked the court’s permission to pay suppliers for goods and services provided prior to the filing. In its statement, the company said it is operating as normal and continues to serve its retailer partners and factories are filling orders.

The filling does not include the company’s operations in Canada or Puerto Rico.

Major Asian Furniture Manufacturer Slashes Prices for Customers

BY Jeff Frank

Four Hands
Summarized from a Furniture Today article by Jean Marie Layton//Senior Editor for Upholstery

Four Hands is one of the largest Asian furniture manufacturers.

The brand introduces over 2000 new products annually, in virtually every low and mid-range furniture category, selling container load quantities to major U.S. furniture retailers.

For the first time in the company’s history, Four Hands will be passing on a universal price decrease to its customers. As inbound ocean freight rates have drastically come down, Four Hands will be passing on this savings to its customers.

According to the company, prices will decrease by an average of 10%, with the largest price decreases found on bulky items that are most affected by ocean freight for transport. Over the past few years, inflationary pressures have strongly impacted the supply chain, especially ocean freight rates. The price decrease is expected to continue until further notice.

Bed in a Box Manufacturer, Classic Brands Forced Out of Business

BY Jeff Frank

Summarized from a Furniture Today article by Sheila Long O’Mara//Executive Editor, Furniture Today//January 19, 2023

One of the early pioneers in the boxed bed category, Classic Brands has shuttered its doors, and its assets are being liquidated, a casualty of the pandemic, anti-dumping and tariffs. The assignee working to liquidate the company’s assets and accounts receivable attributed the closure to a combination of the shifting business landscape in the mattress category. The company’s demise to the combination of the company’s low-cost import business model, supply chain issues exacerbated by the pandemic, anti-dumping duties and tariffs on imports.

The company, founded in 1971 as Waterbed supplier Classic Corp., had sales in excess of $350 million in 2019, according to industry insiders. The company had built partnerships with e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Wayfair, top 100 retailers, and through its portfolio of private-label business, and it was known for its innovative use of materials and design.

Classic Brands had sourced products from China, but shifted production to Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam in 2019 to avoid tariffs on Chinese-made imports. The following year, a group of U.S.-based manufacturers filed an anti-dumping petition with the International Trade Commission that resulted in duties for mattress imported from seven countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. The ITC ruled in favor of the U.S. producers.

A Sofa Made out of Bath Bubbles? NFT Digital Virtual Furniture Arrives

BY Jeff Frank

Nathan Anthony metaverse

 Summarized from Furniture Today by Jean Marie Layton//Senior Editor for Upholstery/

Custom upholstery resource Nathan Anthony Furniture is launching a collection of limited edition digital collectibles, available for purchase through the company’s website. “We’re looking at what the future may hold for our signature furniture designs while still keeping our feet firmly planted on the factory floor,” said Tina Nicole, co-founder and creative director at Nathan Anthony, whose primary business is producing custom upholstery for interior designers and high end dealers.

At the spring 2022 High Point Market, Nathan Anthony was the first manufacturer to introduce NFT art, based on a physical chair, according to the company. Since then, Nicole is working to reimagine some of the best-selling furniture designs as digital artworks.

The Embrace Bath Bubble sofa is listed for 0.25 ETH, currently the equivalent of $392.68, according to the Open Sea NFT marketplace that is built on Ethereum blockchain, which is hosting the sale of Nathan Anthony NFTs. ETH or Ether is a cryptocurrency that has the second biggest market capitalization, after bitcoin.

Marge Carson Resumes Production 60 Days After Acquisition

BY Jeff Frank

Marge Carson
Marge Carson sofa

Summarized from a Furniture Today article by Jean Marie Layton//Senior Editor for Upholstery

60 days after acquiring high-end furniture brand Marge Carson, the new owner and CEO, Janet Linly, announced that the company has resumed production and is taking orders under the new name of Marge Carson Global Inc. “It is a testimony to the energy and experience of the Marge Carson Global team and the excitement about our vision for the brand that we have been able to resume manufacturing in only 60 days,” said Linly.

Operating from a 68,000-square-foot upholstery facility in Tijuana, Mexico, the company has re-hired seasoned Marge Carson craftspeople to manufacture and service the brand. The company will also be reintroducing case goods coming from Indonesia to the Marge Carson product line at a later date. Under its previous owner, the company exited case goods importation from Indonesia and the Philippines in 2021 to centralize production in North America.

In the time since she purchased the company, Linly has been working to restructure the previous Marge Carson production team. At the company’s upholstery facility, Linly has implemented an elevated product quality assurance process with a new quality assurance team utilizing multiple inspection steps.

Leather-alternative Cork fabric Introduced at Interwoven Textile Trade Show

BY Jeff Frank

Cork trees

Photo shows Cork trees in Portugal

From a Furniture Today article by Jean Marie Layton//Senior Editor for Upholstery//January 5, 2023

At the recent High Point, NC Interwoven textile show, Portuguese-based cork producer, Portugalia produced a cork-based sustainable alternative to animal hide-based leathers. “We put that couch on our showroom floor made up in cork,” said sales representative Steve Sechrest. “People walk in, do a double take and go, ‘Oh, my. What is this? Is this cork?’”  

Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world and produces more than 50% of the world’s cork supplies, according to Portugalist.com. Cork is sustainable because the trees aren’t cut down or damaged when the material is harvested and can be harvested every nine years for the lifetime of the tree (approximately 270 years). The material is harvested by peeling the cork bark in large sheets from the living tree.

Currently, Portugalia has more than 90 cork-based fabrics to choose from on their website and indicated it can also produce exclusive designs, colors, printings, embossing and other specialty cork materials.

Flexsteel announces what’s ahead for 2023

BY Jeff Frank

Lead times on domestic Made-to-Order upholstery is currently 4 weeks. 90% in-stock level on imported products. The company is attempting to lower logistics costs, despite higher domestic freight costs.

The biggest development for Flexsteel heading into 2023, is the introduction of a new brand, Charisma to target new lower price ranges ($999 - $1199 retail). The Charisma brand will be made in the same Mexican factory as Flexsteel's SouthHaven collection. Another new product line is the Zecliner, designed for sit-and-sleep functionality. Retails range from $1,499 to $1,999. Flexsteel's biggest concern for 2023 is the possibility of a Recession.

Recliner
Flexsteel Zecliner

Lane Bankruptcy Update

BY Jeff Frank

An attorney representing ex-Lane employees filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleging violation of the WARN Act, Violation of California Labor Code (Sections 1400 and 201) and Violation of North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (Section 95-25.1). The employees are looking to recover 60 days’ wages and benefits, accrued paid time off (PTO) and wages for their final week of work.

Serta Simmons Bedding could file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

BY Jeff Frank

Mattress major Serta Simmons Bedding could file for Chapter 11 protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code as early as January, according to a news report from Bloomberg. The story follows reports from September that SSB’s lenders had been discussing a possible restructuring of the company.

Wayfair sues three of its furniture suppliers

BY Jeff Frank

Online furniture retail giant Wayfair has sued three of its furniture suppliers, alleging the companies engaged in a complex scheme to cheat Wayfair out of extra payments.“This is more than a simple breach-of-contract action,” the complaint states. “This case is also about a sophisticated fraudulent scheme defendants concocted and effectuated to defraud Wayfair.”

According to court documents, Wayfair alleges the defendants intermittently fabricated fraudulent shipping labels by incorrectly entering all but the customer’s ZIP code. Then, defendants placed the label on an empty package so that Wayfair’s carrier still proceeded to deliver the empty package to the location (whether that location was real or fake).

Wayfair
Wayfair