When Flexsteel swings open the doors of its High Point Market showroom, IHFC C558, this week, retailers will find the company is sitting pretty in the reclining category with a highly favorable in-stock position that places it firmly in the catbird seat.
In fact, thanks to the aggressive inventory investments the company made prior to the factory shutdowns that continue to plague many other manufacturers in the industry, Flexsteel has more than a dozen of its best-selling reclining chair styles ready for quick delivery to dealers.
According to David Crimmins, vice president of sales, “As a company we were very deliberate and planned for significant growth prior to the pandemic. While this is true across all the products we produce, we identified reclining chairs as a key category that has historically battled seasonality and supply chain disruptions across the industry. We believed that with the right investment we could significantly improve service levels and market share, and ultimately drive a lot more sales.”
For this reason, while furniture manufacturers tend to take a historical, rearview approach to purchasing, Flexsteel made the decision to shift to a forward view—using its market research to forecast which products would be winners and the amount of inventory they would need on hand to support dealers. “Internally, we dubbed these reclining chair products NRO or Never Run Out, and we made a commitment to ensure that our dealers would never find us in an out-of-stock position on these SKUs,” Crimmins relates.
Indeed, dealers will be pleased to learn that with football season well under way and the winter holidays just around the bend—both considered prime selling seasons for reclining furniture of all kinds—Flexsteel’s primary production facility for both reclining and lift chairs has remained at full bore.
“Geography played a role, since the factory’s location meant it was somewhat removed from the worst of the pandemic and was never part of the stringent government shutdowns that have impacted others,” the executive says. “However, even as travel to the region did begin to shut down, we had housed workers in the facility, and we were able to continue to flow goods. Now, we find ourselves in a very strong position. We’ve invested heavily in Zero G recliners, triple power recliners and on lift chairs, all available in leather and fabric, in small, medium and full-scale silhouettes, and all featuring the kind of comfort, durability and quality shoppers expect from Flexsteel. The good news for our dealers is that we have all of our reclining chair categories in stock and we’re delivering them in less than three weeks.”
Need a Lift?
Already well known throughout the industry as a reclining chair resource, Crimmins says Flexsteel also saw great potential for growth in the lift chair category. “A large segment of the population is reaching an age when lift chairs are of greater importance, but that same population doesn’t want to feel old. Using our stage gate product development process to ensure that we are hitting all the relevant attributes for the consumer, our product development team set out to leverage our most popular reclining chair designs and exploit them across the category using the same design aesthetics. The result is that without a wand on the side of our lift chairs, no one would know they are lift chairs. They certainly do not look like a piece of medical equipment.”
Lift chairs on view at Flexsteel this week offer the same kind of functionality as the company’s reclining chairs, complete with options like power lumbar and headrests. “Designed to blend seamlessly in any space, our lift chairs today are made to address more needs and appeal to a much wider audience than ever before,” Crimmins says.