inflation? Low demand? Outdoor furniture suppliers don’t sweat it

The new Cascade Deep Seating collection from Hanamint is ultra-modern and features low back seating. The design was a breakthrough for the company, which usually specializes in the most ornate looks.

CHICAGO—Outdoor furniture suppliers were largely upbeat at a casual Chicago market last week in Chicago, seemingly unfazed by the inflation plaguing many parts of the economy.

“It’s been a great market for us so far, and we expect it to last the rest of the week,” Telescope Casual Furniture Vice President Bill Vanderminden said midway through Tuesday, the first day of the show. “We may see some slowdown in some areas in retail, but there is still pent-up demand.”

The telescope’s showroom was bustling with traffic. The company unveiled the 1960s-inspired Welles collection from the show, which includes a three-seater sofa, armchair, oval coffee table, and round table.

Vanderminden says the company’s backlog remains extensive. “We have a huge backlog, but retailers want to be in shape and still ordering. We still feel like we’re playing a catch-up game. We’ll probably feel that way for at least another year.”

He said supply issues still exist, but they’re not as bad for Telescope as they are for others.

“We make everything in upstate New York and pretty much get enough of ourselves,” Vandermenden said. “Manufacturing in the US gives us a huge advantage because we have price stability. The product from Asia is unpredictable.”

The luxury outside source Hanamint said that while the business is down a bit, it’s more of a return to normalcy.

“The past two years have been extraordinarily good,” said Russell Sorenson, president of the company. “But there is nothing so dramatic. We are just going back to the normal cycle.”

Design-wise, Sorenson said he’s seeing customers move toward simpler, cleaner designs and away from more ornate shapes.

He said Hanamint will continue to create a decorative product, continuing to sell well, but will venture into a simpler product. The company introduced five new show collections, including both looks.

Made of teak, the Hacienda sun bed from Mamagreen comes in a variety of configurations.

High-end brand Mamagreen was also upbeat, though less so.

“I think business will continue to improve in the US but not in Europe,” said CEO Vincent Kantart. “War and inflation are hurting Europe the most.”

Mamagreen has unveiled five new collections covering both residential and contract properties for viewing. It also added elements to the existing lines and expanded its material options.

Kantart said supply issues are improving, particularly with sellers of materials. He also believes that high-end and luxury brands such as Mamagreen will not be affected as inflation worsens.

The mid-to-high-end teak brand Three Birds Casual was perhaps the most positive. As of Tuesday afternoon, on the first day of the show, company president Tad Varga said the company had already written several orders.

“Demand is still burning,” he said. “Inventory is in a lot of products. The only problem is the ports.”

Three Birds hasn’t released anything new for the show but says a new product is on the way, with new anti-height seats slated to be introduced to the next market. The company gets its furniture from a factory in Indonesia. All items are made of teak wood.

Patio furniture supplier OW Lee said the business is good, but a downturn is coming.

“Demand is still high, but we’ve seen a decline maybe in the last four or six weeks,” said Lisa Rogers McCullister, vice president of marketing. “The seasonality is back. The decline is normal.”

The company introduced a new porcelain tile table to its Avana Collection for display. The lead times are long and the backlog is big, McCallister said.

“We moved from California to Texas during the pandemic,” McCallister said. “It used to be tough getting employees and getting started. But now, we make everything from our 400,000 square foot facility in Comfort, Texas.”

Parachute specialist Franklin introduced five new canvas colors to offer, bringing his total width to 30. He also introduced a new frame finish, now offering eight total colors. Everything ships from the company’s warehouse in New Jersey within four to six weeks.

“It was a great market,” said Laura Dudley, national sales manager. “Very crowded. Demand is still high and still higher last year, but we are seeing new orders starting to slow.”

The local supplier Woodard echoed the same. The company had several introductions to the market, including the four- to six-seat extension table and the “bulky but light” Latitude table.

“Demand remains strong,” said Senior Vice President of Sales Perry Solomon. “We are not seeing a slowdown yet. The supply is challenging but it is getting better. Most of the issues are in the ports.”

Castell - Korda Group

Castelle has unveiled its Korda Collection, which features dining and deep seating made of cast and aluminum. It is hand painted to look like wood.

Finally, luxury brand Castelle has unveiled its new Korda collection, which consists of a combination of cast aluminum and hand-painted in a wood-like shape.

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