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IMC expects outstanding High Point Market

Successful first quarter builds leasing momentum and solid senior leadership team

Officials with International Market Centers report the successful completion of critical first quarter initiatives that lay the foundation for the industries' future growth. Integral to IMC's continuing investment in the furnishings, home décor and gift industries, the initiatives' conclusions coincide with the lead up to the highly anticipated High Point Market.
"The past three months have been enormously productive as we continue our mission of enabling buyers and sellers to conduct more business more efficiently - and on a greater scale than ever before," said IMC Chief Executive Officer Robert Maricich. "Among our many achievements thus far in 2012 are the completion of proprietary industry research and blueprint initiative, the rollout of a cross-marketing strategy that draws on the strengths of each marketplace enabling a synergistic platform bi-coastally, the initial master-planning of our world-class facilities in both cities, finalization of a number of game-changing lease agreements with industry leading companies in both markets, and a commitment to a multi-milliondollar capital expenditure that will further enhance our offerings. We have been extremely deliberate in expanding our foundation with systems, people and investments that are designed to maximize value for our business partners."
IMC's milestones are set against the backdrop of the most successful Las Vegas Market in three years and as the momentum for the spring High Point Market gets underway. Occupancy rate for IMC's High Point buildings sit at an impressive 91%, which includes 246 new exhibitors. Popular destinations including Interhall, SALON, Pavilions on Main 3 and Showplace first floor temporaries are completely sold out. Meanwhile, the Made in America Pavilion doubled in size after a successful launch last fall.
"We are very bullish about the upcoming High Point Market and believe we have made incredible progress in repurposing and growing strategic venues and destinations throughout our buildings," Maricich said. "With our incredible breadth, we can focus on putting manufacturers into areas where they can be most successful and build their brands the best possible way."
In the first quarter alone, IMC has leased 296,617 square feet of permanent showroom space throughout its portfolio of properties in both High Point and Las Vegas. Maricich says IMC's unique ability to give buyers and sellers access to the most coveted showroom venues during every critical period in the product cycle has paved the way for new partnerships and prominent lease agreements for manufacturers on both coasts. Signaling new permanent leases, renewals and key expansions in both markets include leading furniture and mattress companies such as Stanley Furniture, Four Hands, Symbol Mattress and Pure Latex Bliss as well as home décor suppliers Loloi, Surya, Cal Lighting and Accessories, UMA, C & F Enterprises to name a few. Furthermore, many of the gift industry's leading suppliers have signed new leases since the start of the year, firmly establishing Gift+Home at Las Vegas Market the premier Western marketplace for the gift industry.
"Through the creation of IMC, we have been successful at drawing on the strengths and differentiating features of both High Point and Las Vegas, enabling IMC to offer buyers and suppliers a synergistic business platform that crosses geographic regions and industries to maximize results and extend distribution," Maricich said. "These markets are complementary, not competitive, and companies need to be in both venues to be a truly national and international player in the furnishings industry."
Guiding this cross-marketing strategy, IMC recently concluded its "Blueprint" initiative - an extensive research study that will serve as the basis for the company's five-year plan and will help maximize market commerce in both High Point and Las Vegas. The Blueprint clearly demonstrated that Markets remain the industries' driving force for sales, generating 50 percent more sales than any other channel, including sales reps, online and catalog businesses. The findings also reinforced the need for integrated, cross-industry product offerings at Market, as 50% of furniture buyers shop multiple categories and 70% of gift/home décor buyers shop multiple categories.
Perhaps most telling: 80% of buyers shop four days or less and 58% of buyers shop three days or less. In response to this data, IMC will design a long term master-planned approach throughout its buildings that includes streamlining the buyers' experience with segmented product offerings, better navigation and amenities, while also maximizing exhibitors' market insights with data-driven services.
By merging the best showroom facilities in both High Point and Las Vegas, the IMC network is comprised of the highest trafficked buildings, according to the research. In fact, 98% of High Point buyers spend the majority of their time in IMC buildings during market. In addition, IMC's properties are most mentioned as offering among the top three shopping experiences in High Point.
With 40% of U.S. furniture retail sales taking place west of the Mississippi River, IMC's operation of all three buildings at World Market Center Las Vegas gives the company's partners unique access to an often overlooked and increasingly important geographic region. Some 70% of Las Vegas Market buyers represent an incremental revenue opportunity to exhibitors showing beyond High Point. Las Vegas Market also attracts between $22 billion and $23 billion in Western home furnishings retail buying power. Furthermore, seven of the nation's top 15 marketplaces are located in Las Vegas Market's sphere of influence.
IMC ownership has approved a multi-million-dollar plan for capital expenditures and tenant improvements. Among the investments is the enhancement of Wi-Fi and cellular service at IMC properties which will enhance the experience at future High Point Markets.
To support the ongoing introduction of new initiatives, IMC, which moved into a new High Point headquarters during the first quarter, has added three new members to its senior executive team: Most recently, Pedro Zapata was named Chief Operating Officer, bringing IMC almost 20 years of customer service, real estate and hospitality operational management expertise. Most recently Zapata served as Vice President of Prometheus Group, responsible for the financial, operational, and overall business results of a portfolio of high-end multifamily properties. Zapata has also held operations and management positions at Trump International, Bentley Group, Four Seasons Hotels and Ritz-Carlton.
Dorothy Belshaw has joined IMC as President of its Gift division. Belshaw most recently was senior VP at George Little Management, serving as its director of the New York International Gift Fair, overseeing sales, customer service and corporate communications departments. She will direct growth initiatives for the Gift+Home Show in Las Vegas, firmly establishing it as the industry's premier Western market. Scott Eckman has been named IMC's Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Strategy Officer. Eckman, who served for the last five years in a senior leadership capacity with GMAC Insurance Holdings in Winston-Salem, will be responsible for defining and driving all strategic, corporate development and marketing activities across the IMC brand.
For more information on IMC, visit www.imcenters.com.

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