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1 INDUSTRY Furniture Stores LAST QUARTERLY UPDATE 10/31/2005 CONTENTS Industry Overview Quarterly Industry Update Business Challenges Trends and Opportunities Call Preparation Questions Industry Forecast CATEGORY Retail SIC CODES 5712 NAICS CODES , RELATED PROFILES Building Material Supply Furniture Manufacturing Specialty Retail The US furniture retailing business includes about 20,000 companies with combined annual revenue of $45 billion. The industry is highly fragmented: only about 30 companies have annual revenue higher than $100 million, including Pier 1 Imports, Ethan Allen, and Haverty. The large majority of companies operate a single store, but about 1,000 operate more than two stores. Although the range of sales per store is very large, most stores gross less than $1 million per year. COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE Household furniture sales are closely linked to home sales. Office furniture sales are linked to employment growth and new business formations. The profitability of furniture stores depends on the volume of goods sold because most costs are fixed. Small stores can co-exist with large ones by carrying special goods that appeal to a select demographic. PRODUCTS, OPERATIONS & TECHNOLOGY A typical furniture store sells living room, dining room, kitchen and bedroom furniture, and mattresses. Products are sometimes classified as "case goods" (wood furniture) or upholstered products. Most retail furniture stores sell a broad range of products, but some concentrate on one furniture type, such as mattresses, sofas, or office or children's furniture. Store operations involve sales management; merchandising (deciding which products to sell); inventory management; and (sometimes) credit financing. Many retailers have multiple stores fed by one or several regional warehouses, which in turn receive goods directly from multiple manufacturers. Typically, smaller stores are showroom galleries with little inventory of their own; customers receive the product from a central warehouse. Larger stores with an attached warehouse are becoming more popular in suburban locations. While some furniture, like beds and mattresses, can be directly supplied from inventory, upholstered and wood furniture are often madeto-order by the manufacturer, with delivery times that can stretch to several months. Most purchases are delivered from a warehouse to the customer's home or office. Large-volume retailers may operate a fleet of delivery trucks. Retailers buy much of their product at trade shows, of which there are a large number. The most important national trade show is the High Point Market in North Carolina, held in the spring and fall. Retailers typically buy product from dozens of manufacturers, and may have special sections in their store dedicated to a particular manufacturer brand. Some retailers like Ethan Allen have their own manufacturing operations and sell only their own products.

2 Large retailers generally buy directly from manufacturers, without wholesaler intervention. Associations like Associated Volume Buyers (AVB) allow smaller companies to buy from manufacturers at volume prices. SALES & MARKETING Stores generally target a particular type of consumer based on style and price. Selling furniture requires showrooms, which can be large, often between 50,000 and 100,000 square feet. Specialty retailers can been successful using much smaller stores, but must usually carry a more expensive line of products because turnover is lower. Marketing is through local channels, including newspaper, radio, and TV. Stores may have arrangements with independent home decorators, and often offer decorating services of their own. Salespeople often work on commission. Some large stores, like Jordan's Furniture (a unit of Berkshire Hathaway), provide entertainment to draw customers. Many furniture retailers have established websites where consumers can view a range of products. These sites are usually just promotional, but some retailers also sell products over the Internet. FINANCE & REGULATION Gross margins are high, close to 50 percent, but selling expenses are also high, so that net income as a percentage of sales ranges between zero and 5 percent for many companies. With such small net margins, economies of scale can be important, but there is also little room for management error. Because of the need for large showrooms, real estate is often one of the largest items on the balance sheet. An inherent risk is that inventories are often large, while inventory turnover is low. For large companies, inventory turns over only four to five times per year. The value of inventory may decrease if customer tastes change or if the retailer has incorrectly judged consumer demand. Consequently, retailers can have big swings in profitability from year to year. Because furniture is often expensive, credit availability is an important aspect of sales, especially at the lower end of the market, where more than 50 percent of sales are financed. Many retailers offer their own financing, but many have arrangements with third parties. Some larger companies like Pier 1 offer their own credit card. Accounts receivables are often more than 25 percent of sales. The industry is unregulated except for standard state and federal regulations against deceptive sales practices and laws that regulate the use of credit financing. As a larger amount of furniture is imported, import policy and regulations will have a bigger impact on retailers. REGIONAL & INTERNATIONAL ISSUES The household furniture manufacturing industry is heavily concentrated in North Carolina, Virginia, and Mississippi. Almost half of office furniture is manufactured in Michigan (Steelcase). Imports of factory-finished furniture have increased rapidly in recent years, especially from China. From 1998 to 2003, furniture imports from China rose 300 percent to $7 billion. In 2003, imports held about 20 percent of the US market. HUMAN RESOURCES Industry Employment Growth Bureau of Labor Statistics

3 Average Hourly Earnings & Annual Wage Increase Bureau of Labor Statistics US Furniture Industry Continues Recovery, Canadian Industry Still Strong - After recovering strongly in 2004 from a slump the prior three years, US consumer furniture spending is forecast to grow 2.7 percent in 2005, bringing its market value to $77.5 billion, according to AKTRIN Furniture Information Center. After plunging 20 percent from 2000 to 2003, US office furniture sales are expected to recover in 2005 by posting a strong 11 percent increase in value to $38.6 billion. Canadian consumer furniture sales are forecast to increase 5 percent in 2005, surpassing the C$10 billion mark for the first time. Sales of Canadian office furniture are expected to rise more than 10 percent to roughly C$5.4 billion before slowing in Price Squeeze on Furniture Stores Continues - While furniture stores continue to cut prices to consumers, furniture manufacturers continue to increase prices, shrinking retail margins. Furniture and bedding consumer prices fell 1.2 percent in August 2005 compared to year-ago, but producer prices for household furniture rose 3.7 percent. Bedroom furniture was the one industry segment to rise during the period: its consumer price increased 3.6 percent. Consumer prices for living room, kitchen, and dining room furniture dropped 3.4 percent; prices for other furniture fell 2.9 percent. Furniture Manufacturers Pass High Fabric Costs to Retailers - Within days of Hurricane Katrina, producers of upholstery fabrics began instituting immediate price increases due to the higher costs of raw materials. The cost to produce petroleum-based fibers, a common component of upholstery fabric, was driven up as oil prices surged after the hurricane. Fabric price increases translate to higher product costs for furniture store owners. Valdese Weavers estimates the cost of raw materials rose 15 cents a yard, which they'll pass to furniture manufacturers in the form of a surcharge. Craftex Mills saw price increases from 7 to 12 percent for raw materials, which it will also pass on. Retail Furniture Sales Flat, Inventories Increase - Retail sales at US furniture and home furnishing stores were basically flat in July 2005, rising less than 0.1 percent over the prior year to $8.9 billion. Furniture sales fell short of an 8.4 percent spike in total retail and food services sales overall. July end-ofmonth retail inventories in the larger category of furniture, home furnishings, electronics, and appliance stores rose 5 percent to just under $28.6 billion compared to end-of-month inventories for all retail, which

4 were flat. The inventories/sales ratio for furniture, home furnishings, electronics, and appliances rose 5.5 percent, while the ratio for all retail trade grew 8.9 percent. Canadian Furniture Stores Post Quarterly Sales Plunge - Following a fairly strong 2004, first quarter 2005 sales at Canadian furniture stores plunged 19.9 percent to C$1.9 billion compared to a year earlier, according to Statistics Canada. The furniture store category includes other products such as appliances and electronics, but not furniture sales at department stores. Despite the negative start, some analysts point to the erratic nature of the industry s sales and expect a positive year for the industry overall, citing key economic indicators such as mortgage interest rates and housing starts and resales. CRITICAL ISSUES Demand Strongly Depends on Home Sales - Furniture buying is strongly influenced by home sales, consumer income, new home construction, and employment. In the 2001 recession, close to 1 million white collar workers lost their jobs (and no longer needed office furniture). Recessions affect the bigger chains both by cutting sales and through higher delinquencies on credit purchases. Furniture and home furnishing store sales rose 4.8 percent in the first nine months of 2005 compared to a year ago. Competition from Manufacturers - Large manufacturers ensure access to consumers by selling through dedicated retail outlets. Retailers' profit margins continue to get squeezed by manufacturers. Furniture Brands distributes its products partly through independently owned, branded stores; Ethan Allen operates retail stores. Rowe and Basset opened retail stores of their own in the past several years. Bassett opened its first retail store in 1997, but now has 120 stores and plans to open an additional 20 a year until it reaches a total of 300 stores. OTHER BUSINESS CHALLENGES Competition from Mass Merchants - While traditional home furniture retailers still own the largest piece of the market, those stores are losing market share to other retailers, such as specialty chains and mass merchants. Long-term Demographics Unfavorable - US baby boomers will begin retiring by 2010, and the following generation is about one-half the size. New household formations, a prime driver of furniture demand, are expected to fall from 1.3 million in the late 1990s to below 1 million by High Selling Costs - Despite gross margins close to 50 percent, many retailers make only small profits because of the high cost of selling the product, including showrooms, advertising, and commissions to sales staff. With regular costs high, managers have little leeway to make merchandising or credit mistakes. Although the US economy reached a high level of prosperity in the past ten years, many retailers were unprofitable. Vulnerability to Credit Problems - A high percentage of furniture is bought on credit, which stores often finance themselves. The quality of accounts receivable can quickly deteriorate in a weakening economy. Retailers at the lower end of the market usually finance a higher percentage of sales, and are especially vulnerable to economic slowdown. BUSINESS TRENDS Specialization - Sales at stores dedicated to one brand or manufacturer are two to three times higher than at conventional furniture stores. Furniture Brands, the largest US residential furniture manufacturer, has stand-alone stores for its various brands, which generate twice the sales per square foot of nondedicated stores carrying the same line.

5 Complementary Products - Product diversification has allowed some traditional furniture chains to increase sales' and profit margins. Star Furniture and Roberds, for example, added rug departments, while Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn also sell a wide assortment of home furnishings. Emphasis on Style - Selling furniture as part of a lifestyle has allowed higher-end retailers to expand. Chains like Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and Ikea have grown by emphasizing style rather than price and credit terms. Regional companies have increased sales by offering more highend products and strong service. Fewer Design Styles - Because of retail consolidation, larger quantities of fewer styles are being made, allowing manufacturers to produce longer factory runs at lower cost. Even though finished products are often made-to-order, basic components, like unfinished wood items and bare sofa frames, can be produced in efficient batches ahead of time. Design Trends - House plans over the next 20 years are expected to include more multipurpose rooms, with the distinctions between kitchens, living and dining rooms disappearing. Media centers, exercise rooms and other specialty spaces will be more prevalent. Furnishings will reflect consumer desires for increased function and storage. INDUSTRY OPPORTUNITIES Low-Cost Galleries - Analysts predict that a low-cost combination online and traditional furniture shopping will gain support as Internet access continues to grow. From galleries in malls where sample furniture is displayed, consumers can enter their own sales and delivery orders via Internet terminals. Internet Sales - Internet sales, still a small fraction of sales, are increasing rapidly because prices are discounted by 30 to 40 percent. Internet furniture retailers are profitable because they dispense with expensive showrooms, warehouses, and sales staff, and order directly from manufacturers. But some industry observers predict that Internet sellers will have a tough time due to high costs for shipping and returns. Branding - About 10 percent of furniture lines have license agreements to use famous names. Lexington Home Brands uses product names from Bob Timberlake, Tommy Bahama, Southern Living, and Nautica Home. Royalty rates for licensed brand name products average between 2 and 12 percent, with most in the 3 to 7 percent range. Target Market Segments - Furniture retailers have two large target demographics: baby boomers 40 to 55, who are at peak earnings and have paid-off mortgages, and boomers children, who have large discretionary income and few financial obligations. CONVERSATION STARTERS What are the company's strategies for operating during industry or economic turndowns? Furniture buying is strongly influenced by home sales, consumer income, new home construction, and employment. How is competition from manufacturers impacting the company? Large manufacturers ensure access to consumers by selling through dedicated retail outlets. How does the company differentiate itself from competitors? While traditional home furniture retailers still own the largest piece of the market, those stores are losing market share to other retailers, such as specialty chains and mass merchants. What opportunities do multi-channeling though showrooms and the Internet present? Analysts predict that a low-cost combination online and traditional furniture shopping will gain support as Internet access continues to grow. How successful has the company's website been for increasing sales? Internet sales, still a small fraction of sales, are increasing rapidly because prices are discounted by 30 to 40 percent.

6 How has celebrity or artist branding impacted sales? About 10 percent of furniture lines have license agreements to use famous names. QUARTERLY INDUSTRY UPDATE QUESTIONS How is the company managing tightened profit margins? Furniture and bedding consumer prices fell 1.2 percent in August 2005 compared to year-ago, but producer prices for household furniture rose 3.7 percent resulting in shrinking retail margins for furniture stores. What impact has Hurricane Katrina had on the company? Within days of Hurricane Katrina, producers of upholstery fabrics began instituting immediate price increases due to the higher costs of raw materials. Fabric price increases translate to higher product costs for furniture stores. OPERATIONS, PRODUCTS AND FACILITIES QUESTIONS Does the company sell household or office furniture? Household furniture and mattresses account for about 70 percent of the market. What types of furniture does the company sell? Upholstered, wood, metal, ready-to-assemble? Living room, dining room, bedroom, kitchen, bedding? How does the company determine its merchandise mix? Many retailers make purchasing decisions at trade shows, of which there are a large number. What manufacturers are the company's principal suppliers? There are 20,000 furniture manufacturers in the US. Does the company have long-standing relationships with manufacturers? How does the company deliver furniture to its customers? Many furniture operators own or lease trucks. How many stores does the company operate? About 1,000 companies have more than two furniture stores. Does the company operate a warehouse or distribution center? Many stores are just showroom galleries, with no inventory of their own. CUSTOMERS, MARKETING, PRICING, COMPETITION QUESTIONS What type of customer does the company target? Many furniture retailers target customers according to style and price. How large a market does the company serve? A 20-minute car drive is about as far as most consumers will go. How many other furniture stores are within the company's market? Most markets have several competitors. What are the company's pricing policies? Who makes decisions about final pricing? Store managers and salespeople often have some pricing flexibility. Does the company sell complementary products and services? Star Furniture and Roberds also sell rugs. Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn sell a wide assortment of home furnishings. What types of marketing does the company use? Local newspaper, radio, and TV advertising are common. REGULATIONS, R&D, IMPORTS, AND EXPORTS QUESTIONS

7 How much of the retailer's product is made abroad? Major exporters to the US are China, Italy, and Mexico. ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT QUESTIONS If the company has multiple stores, how much autonomy do store managers have to determine product mix and pricing? How does the retailer train its salespeople to sell specialized products like mattresses? Is sales staff paid on commission? Is the company owned or controlled by a single major investor? Many furniture stores are family-owned. FINANCIAL ANALYSIS QUESTIONS Does the company experience seasonality in its revenue? Most furniture retailers have higher revenue in second and third quarters, when more homes are sold. What is the typical annual revenue per store? Typical annual revenue for a single store is $1 million. How large an inventory does the company carry? Inventory typically amounts to 20 percent of annual revenue. How does the company finance inventory? Has the company ever had to take significant write-downs on inventory? Fashionable furniture can rapidly become unfashionable. What percentage of sales is financed? At some large retailers, close to 50 percent. Does the company provide credit to its customers? Large retailers may provide their own financing; smaller ones use third-party lenders. Has the company had to take significant write-downs on customer credit? Annual bad debt write-offs may be close to 5 percent of receivables. BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY STRATEGIES QUESTIONS How does the company differentiate itself from competitors? What is the company's strategy for operating during an industry turndown? Furniture sales follow the health of the real estate markets. What future does the company see for small, independent furniture retailers? Does the company believe that large manufacturers will expand their retail operations? Several large manufacturers like Ethan Allen and Furniture Brands operate large networks of dedicated brand name stores. Does the company believe that a large portion of the market will eventually be served by imports? Does the company have foreign experience? Imports have grown rapidly in recent years. Does the company plan expansion? Retailers with a successful concept can easily expand into new areas. Does the company operate an Internet website? Internet sales are still a small fraction of industry furniture sales, but many companies have virtual showrooms on the Internet.

8 US personal consumption expenditures of furniture are forecast to grow at an annual compounded rate of 4.6 percent between 2005 and Furniture Stores Growth Slows Source: IERF, Inc. First Research forecasts are based on INFORUM forecasts that are licensed from the Interindustry Economic Research Fund, Inc. (IERF) in College Park, MD. INFORUM's "interindustry-macro" approach to modeling the economy captures the links between industries and the aggregate economy. The purpose of the Profiles is for sales call preparation and general business and industry analysis. Profiles provide general background information only and are not intended to furnish detailed information about the creditworthiness of any individual borrower or purchaser or to be used for making any loans, leases or extension of credit to any individual borrower or purchaser. First Research, Inc. is not an investment advisor, nor is it in the business of advising others as to the value of securities or the advisability of investing in securities, and the Profiles are not intended to be relied upon or used for investment purposes. Copyright 2005, First Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This information cannot be copied, sold or distributed in any manner without the written permission of First Research, Inc.

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