Sligh Enters New Market With Big Introduction

April 12, 2002
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HOLLAND — Seeing the potential to ride a wave of growth in the consumer electronics industry, Sligh Furniture is entering a new market with a line of furniture for home theater and home entertainment systems.

The Holland-based Sligh, known for its elegant clocks and wood office furniture for business and home use, hopes to generate 10 percent of its annual revenues within two years from the new line of home theater/home entertainment products. “Then we’ll see where it goes,” Chairman Robert Sligh Jr. said.

Sixty percent of Sligh Furniture’s revenues now come from office furniture sales, with three-quarters of that for home offices, and the remaining 40 percent from grandfather, mantel and other clocks.

In entering the new market category with one of its largest product introductions, the 122-year-old Sligh Furniture hopes that upper-income consumers who are willing to pay handsomely for a home entertainment system or widescreen television are also willing to consider buying a line of furniture to go with it, one that’s well designed and offers a high level of style and function.

Partly driving Sligh Furniture’s decision to get into the home theater/home entertainment market are the rapidly increasing sales of consumer electronics, such as digital televisions.

“We think the timing is perfect to enter this new category,” Sligh said. “It’s something we’re pretty excited about for the whole business.”

The sale of digital television sets alone increased 83 percent from February 2001 to February 2002, to 133,764 units valued at $242 million, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. The trade association expects the sale of digital televisions to total 2.1 million units in 2002, from 1.4 million units in 2001, and grow to 10.5 million units by 2006.

Sales of home theater systems with a DVD player, after posting a 131 percent dollar increase in 2001, are projected to grow by 24 percent in 2002, to $945 million.

That kind of sales growth has generated increased interest in home furnishings to accommodate home entertainment and theater systems, Sligh said. The company’s 1,000 furniture dealers have been asking for a new line of furniture products to satisfy these consumers, he said.

Sligh is seeking to fill what it sees as a void in the market for home entertainment furniture that “looks spectacular in your home” and falls between the low-end and top-end markets. The company’s lines of five varying product categories within the home theater/entertainment segment sell for between $1,850 and $6,220.

“There’s quite a void there that we’ve been asked to fill by our dealers, and we think we’ll be successful filling it,” Sligh said. “This is an excellent way to put our creative design and functional solutions to work in a new furniture category.”

The company launched the new product line this week at the 2002 International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, North Carolina.

Sligh Furniture will produce the new products primarily at its plants in Holland and Zeeland, which employ about 300 people, and sell them through its existing dealership network in North America.

The new product category did not require any major capital investment in the facilities, Sligh said. The plants already had the capability and capacity to manufacture the new products, he said.

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