blog: news + information from “the home authority”

IHA Trade Mission – South Africa

October 28th, 2014

In late September IHA sponsored a trade mission to South Africa. The goal of each IHA-sponsored Trade Mission is to offer members involved in or wishing to grow their business in specific markets an opportunity to get a firm grip on the dynamics of that market and to meet the key retailers and distributors who are leaders in that market.

The South Africa Trade Mission included stops in the two key business towns, Cape Town and Johannesburg. As members learned on this trip, South Africa has a population of 52 million but only has five million tax payers. By contrast there are more than nine million people who are supported by public assistance.

Although there is a growing middle class, only a small portion of the population has the buying power to participate in the upscale sectors of the housewares market. Mission attendees were told that many of the upmarket consumers who have the buying power employ household help and often do not clean or cook for themselves. As evidence, attendees saw sections of uniforms for household workers available for sale in the cleaning and general merchandise aisles of mass market and supermarket retailers.

Retail pricing is complicated by high tariffs, with the exception of goods made in the EU, with which South African has a free trade agreement. Goods from the US, China and other non-EU countries often sell for several multiples of their US retail price.

Cape Town Retailer Focus: Yuppiechef

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Headquartered in Cape Town, Yuppiechef is an online-only retailer in its second year of operation. They offer many housewares and food items directly to the SA consumer at

The Yuppiechef “About Us” page says:

Yuppiechef was founded in 2006 by two good friends and we’re currently based at bright and bustling premises in Cape Town. We believe great kitchen tools change the way you cook and that people sitting down to eat together is a good thing. While working hard to offer a delightful online shopping experience we stop regularly to smell the roses, eat biscuits and dress up for breakfast. 

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Yuppiechef customer interface is that each customer, with each order, receives a handwritten thank you card. With every order the staff attempts to personalize using the customer’s purchase history. All staff members write at least three cards per month to supplement the work of professional card writers and to keep each employee invested in the company customer relationships.

Other retailers and the Trade Mission met with or visited in Cape Town included: Home Etc., @Homelivingspace, Game, Mr. Price Home, Funkiline, PJ Marketing

Johannesburg Retailer Focus: Boardmans








Boardmans’ “About Us” page says:

Trust Boardmans, your home specialist store, to help you create an impression that lasts. Celebrate your world and get your home ready for any occasion with the best in kitchen, bedroom and bathroom brands. Visit our stores or new online store for the hottest seasonal trends, the widest range of international brands and great value.

Boardmans was born in 1982 as South Africa’s original homestore and was acquired in 2004 by Edcon. It has continued to evolve and boasts an impressive range of tabletop, kitchenware and home décor offering including both new and exciting brands as well as those known and trusted over many years by customers.

With 34 stores nationwide Boardmans’ customers can use any Edcon company credit as well as enjoy the benefits of the Thank U loyalty program.Go to for more information.

Other retailers and distributors we visited and/or met with in Johannesburg included: Hirsch’s, Makro, Liv’In Batterie de Cuisine, Premium Brand Housewares & Hospitality, W.G. McDonald, Rocker, Third Avenue Trading, Berzacks

Join IHA International Business Council at or contact Lori Szudarek at for more information on upcoming IHA-sponsored pavilions or Trade Missions including our Trade Mission to the UK which begins November 10, 2014 (


2015 International Home + Housewares Show Almost Sold Out

October 23rd, 2014

With less than five months to go before opening day, the 2015 International Home + Housewares Show is over 90 percent sold out, according to the International Housewares Association, the Show’s owner and operator. The Show begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 7 and closes at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10.   A Power Hour from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Saturday through Mondayoffers exhibitors and buyers an opportunity to extend their meetings for an additional hour after the 5:30 Show close.   Appointments for Power Hour are encouraged.

“We are very pleased with the response from exhibitors and expect to be completely sold out very soon,” said Phil Brandl, IHA president & CEO. “We are also encouraged by the return of several familiar companies who are exhibiting after a brief absence.”

The Show will host more than 2,100 exhibitors from around the world, including 400 new companies.   A sampling of first-time companies as well as some well-known suppliers returning after an absence includes:

  • Dine + Design Expo:   Beeline Creative, Carmie’s Kitchen, Cosmoplast, Primitives by Kathy, Rigamonti Pietro & Figli s.r.l., Sambonet, Shiraleah, Stone Candles and Terre Etoilee.
  • Discover Design:  Black + Blum, Crow Canyon Home, Fiskar Brands, iittala, Neolid, New Soda and Poppin.
  • Wired + Well Expo:  Brita, Brookstone, Kenmore (floor care and small appliances), LauraStar, Maytag Vacuums, Smeg and Taurus.
  • Clean, Contain + Sustain Expo:  Addis Housewares, Ltd., Grund America LLC, Moda At Home, Inc., PetSafe, Primetime Petz, SimplyKleen™, Ultimate Shield and Wenko.

To view the entire Show lineup, buyers may visit and search Housewares Connect 365 to download a complete list of 2015 exhibitors as well as to view floor plans, product catalogs, new product photos and videos and complete company contact information for each exhibitor.

To register for a no-charge Show badge, visit


About International Housewares Association

The International Housewares Association is the 76-year-old voice of the housewares industry, which accounted for (US)$314.3 billion at retail worldwide in 2012. The not-for-profit, full-service association sponsors the world’s premier exposition of products for the home, the International Home + Housewares Show, and offers its 1,700 member companies a wide range of services, including industry and government advocacy, export assistance, State-of-the-Industry reports, point-of-sale and consumer panel data through Housewares MarketWatch, executive management peer groups, a unique Web-based community at and group buying discounts on business solutions services. 

IHA logo

New Online Resource “Inspired Home” Launches To Generate Housewares Excitement

October 16th, 2014

Compelling Articles, Videos, DIY Tips, Home Ideas and More Found at

As savvy consumers increasingly turn to the web to select kitchen utensils, organization tools, cookware pieces, home décor and more to “make their house a home,” a new online resource launches to deliver fresh content on emerging home trends and housewares products. delivers compelling information and ideas across a broad spectrum of home lifestyle categories, enabling consumers to connect directly with brands and companies that can meet their housewares needs.

Visitors to – and corresponding platforms on FacebookPinterestTwitter and YouTube – will find beautiful imagery, DIY tips, home ideas, seasonal recipes and information about new products from industry experts, bloggers and media personalities across variety of topics: cooking and baking, dining, entertaining, home organization, cleaning, personal care and wellness, and more.

“We designed Inspired Home to be an informative, fun online resource by creating it in a highly visual, editorial style, which we know consumers seek out when looking for home inspiration,” said Phil Brandl, president/CEO of the International Housewares Association, the organization powering

Research shows that consumers head to the web when seeking information about housewares products and making purchasing decisions. Women, in particular, are more likely to engage with media that seamlessly integrates into and improves their day-to-day lives, and millennials are 247 percent more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites than other age groups (JLL Research).

Connecting IHA Members with Consumers

Inspired Home marks the first foray into business-to-consumer marketing for the International Housewares Association (IHA), the 76-year-old voice of the housewares industry. Until now, the IHA focused its efforts on serving as a business-to-business trade organization connecting companies and brands to retailers in an effort to facilitate global commerce, primarily through its annual International Home + Housewares Show.

IHA launches Inspired Home with the goal of educating consumers about their housewares options and showcasing its 1,600 members’ products. The organization represents some of the most well-known brands in the housewares industry, such as KitchenAid, Hamilton Beach, OXO, simplehuman, Keurig, Conair, Pyrex and many more. In addition to the new website, Inspired Home spans IHA’s social media channels, public relations efforts and strategic partnerships.

Products of IHA member brands and companies will be woven throughout Inspired Home’s platforms, in order to organically build relationships with consumers, elevate the housewares industry overall and ultimately drive sales. In addition to inclusion in featured content, each exhibiting IHA member company will have its own profile page on, highlighting up to 50 product images for consumers to easily access, along with links to the member’s website and social media platforms.

“We want to be influential in the consumer’s path to purchase,” says Derek Miller, IHA’s vice president, global marketing. “Through Inspired Home, our members will be able to share new products and innovations with consumers throughout the year, driving awareness of what they have to offer. We are extremely excited about this new consumer awareness initiative and the visibility it will provide for our members.”

Delivering Content Consumers Can Use was designed to appeal to those who seek out lifestyle imagery and content for home and housewares inspiration. As such, visitors to the Inspired Home platforms will find eye-catching photography, informative slideshows and concise tip lists to pique their interest and introduce them to products.

Content will be offered in a “news you can use” format, presented from the perspective of a multitude of trusted experts. The Inspired Home content team includes leading color forecaster Pantone, high-profile digital influencers and housewares industry authorities, such as Frank Fontana, chief contributing editor to Inspired Home, who’s best known as an HGTV interior designer, best-selling author and radio personality.

“When connecting with audiences, it’s so important to share information that they can immediately put into practice in their daily lives,” said Fontana, who welcomes visitors to in a video on the site’s homepage and who will contribute monthly content to the site. “That is exactly what Inspired Home does, and we’re helping consumers take even greater command of their purchase power.”

About International Housewares Association

The International Housewares Association is the 76-year-old voice of the housewares industry, which accounted for (US) $314.3 billion at retail worldwide in 2012. The not-for-profit, full-service association sponsors the world’s premier exposition of products for the home, the International Home + Housewares Show, and offers its 1,600 member companies a wide range of services, including industry and government advocacy, export assistance, State-of-the-Industry reports, point-of-sale and consumer panel data through Housewares MarketWatch, executive management peer groups, a unique Web-based community at and group buying discounts on business solutions services. 

Inspired Home Logo (resize)

2014 CHESS Conference Highlights: Ken Harris

October 15th, 2014

Day Two: Session Four

The New Retail Landscape: Reaching the Omni-Channel Shopper

Ken Harris, Managing Partner, Cadent Consulting Group

As manufacturers and conventional retailers turn their attention and resources toward digital commerce, a critical question needs to be asked: What is the best path for your company if 95-99% of your business is through conventional channels? Companies should focus on digital and online pursuits as part of an overall strategy.

ken harrisKen Harris explored how to balance new approaches to conventional channels without losing the edge on digital initiatives. He described case studies of strategies and tactics used by successful consumer products companies in a variety of relevant industries including housewares.

As the final speaker of CHESS, Harris deftly built upon two days packed with content. He summarized information provided earlier on the complexities of social media and offered action points for the audience to apply once they returned home. He recalled how Eric Greitens invited people to shift their course by 2% to change their lives and reminded us that you don’t have to be experts on day one—the first steps and decisions each day build strength. For example, IHA shifted course to speak directly to consumers by launching an interactive website where everyone present could participate and benefit by leveraging IHA and their brands and products.

Technology available to us today enables our access to consumers more than ever before. We are connected all the time and carve out time to unplug and turn off. Digital marketing and strategy are at work 24/7. Most brick and mortar companies use traditional modes of communication outbound from their central core: media, websites, mobile apps, email marketing and TV. We’ve heard that we need to create a unified message, yet how do you create one message that differs for each consumer we touch?

Omni-channel marketing is a customer-driven relationship with multiple, ubiquitous and interrelated modes of communication—one channel with many touch points. Content is individualized, responses are measured, unit and dollar velocity performances are enhanced by visitor clicks, coupons and discounts and Facebook shares. The formerly linear path to purchase is now a circular one with many detours to build brand loyalty and advocacy.

Ken Harris final program

Harris described examples of omni-channel marketing such as unexpected personal care products placed in apparel displays to align brands and experiences and a mother using her phone, home computer and tablet over several days to shop for children’s shoes. Most consumers now “showroom” and “webroom,” and have preferred channels for different occasions. On average customers engage with 11.4 pieces of information before purchasing. What customers see in one channel informs what they buy in another, so investing in one sees ROI in other channels.

Business is much more complex today than it was 20 years ago. One example of a housewares brand whose omni-channel marketing illustrates many creative directions is a tableware company that created a visual tabletop on its website, which also offers entertaining tips, so consumers could select products to set a beautiful table and share with their friends.

Big data is overwhelming; we need smaller data with big answers. In order to keep up with consumer expectations, marketers must move from multi-channel to omni-channel. Assess where your business is today and choose the most rewarding direction. Assess online and bricks and mortar equally, with no prejudice. The online route isn’t easy and you will need to fortify your organization just as you would to build more bricks and mortar stores.

A lively conversation followed with audience questions about predictions and forecasts to take the group through the coming year.

The next CHESS conference will take place at the same Loews Chicago O’Hare hotel and during the same week. Plan now to attend the 2015 CHESS on October 6 and 7.

2014 CHESS Conference Highlights: Linda Graebner, Katie Fitzgerald, Ted Koenig, Bruce Lubin, and Jon Lucas

October 15th, 2014

Day Two: Session Three

So You Don’t Want to Sell Your Business…How Do You Get the Capital to Grow It?

Moderated by Linda Graebner, Executive Chairman, Chef’n Corporation

Panelists: Katie Fitzgerald, CircleUp Network, Inc.; Ted Koenig, Monroe Capital LLC;

Bruce Lubin, The Private Bank and Jon Lucas, President, CIT

Last year’s panel suggested “Everyone Should Sell Their Business At Least Once” and presented tricks of a successful sale. But now you’ve decided to grow the one you have instead. This diverse panel of experts addressed the critical elements of a business growth plan: the elements of a business strategy that attracts investors and several different approaches to consider for financing your plan. Panelists identified ways to distinguish your company and its opportunities to achieve your plans.

Linda Graebner and finance panel

Graebner began by summarizing the results of a survey of members seeking capital advice. She then invited the panel to outline their services and offer guidance.

Bruce Lubin best

Lubin: Today the financial climate is in your favor—there is no better time to get financing. Get your business plan in order, be prepared andbe open. Have a relationship with your banker to get to know them when you don’t need anything and so that you can trust them. When you do need something you want the person to understand your business.

Lucas: Focus on what you offer and what sets you apart. CIT specializes in the consumer product industry. We focus on $5-100 million companies that sell into retail distribution. We have clients in the audience. We have a deep understanding of your business and understand your customers. We know your customer base and the games they play. So when you hit bumps in the road, we can provide financing to help you to get to next stage.

Koenig: At Monroe Capital we are temporary partners; we provide capital and are not a bank. We can be flexible and can partner with banks to assist with a piece of the capital structure. We work with middle market companies starting at $3 million EBITDA. Our loans are based on cash flow and enterprise value, not accounts receivable or value of equipment, real estate or personal net worth. We provide capital so you can do the deal you want to do: acquisitions or intra-generational transfers, as when family members sell to one another.


Fitzgerald: CircleUp is a different platform for raising capital. Existing capital markets are inefficient for companies that don’t fit intotraditional boxes. We believe investor diversification should include more than just public market investing. We focus on U.S. consumer products companies that typically have more than $1 million in revenue for the current fiscal year. Our companies have a tangible product or retail outlet that you can touch, taste, use or visit. We build a community of investors who back a company individually and collectively and can help a company grow beyond just the financial contribution. Online communication allows entrepreneurs to connect with people who know your business and people beyond your network or who your banker knows. Online documentation and diligence means more transparency and we curate companies that make it onto our platform.

Graebner: What should companies do before contacting you?

Lubin: Some companies come unprepared and don’t know what they are looking for and what they have to offer. Someone who comes to see me has to be succinct and have the information I need, like three years of financial statements. I want to hear the story realistically to see if I can satisfy your needs. My market starts at $15 million of revenue. Be prepared, succinct and open. For a company with less than $50 million in sales, I find that a smart entrepreneur hires a good financial officer and accountant. If you want to grow, it’s critical to get a CFO. It’s your business to know what sells, but a financial officer understands our language and can explain your cash flow and present your business plan effectively. We invest in the business plan and we need to understand our commitment.

Koenig: You know your sales and customer service, sourcing, importing, manufacturing. But how reliable is your earnings stream? Can the business function without you? The biggest challenge for company leaders is to plan for your own transition while you are still the most important person in your business. Lenders won’t put debt into something if only one person contributes to value or if a company has one major customer with 40-60% of customer base; that’s a concentration of risk. You don’t want to be in that spot. We look at the management team and want to make sure we have a solid business with an alignment of interests.

Fitzgerald: Who doesn’t make the cut for financing? Companies that come too late, when in dire need. That’s never a good start. Plan for cash flows in advance. It can take several months for investor conversations to raise capital. A common mistake is evaluation: an entrepreneur thinks his business is worth $100 million but isn’t there yet. You raise capital for where the business is today. Investors are taking on risk, so market evaluation is important. Avoid tying yourself up with one or few investors too early, especially at early stage, because that investor might drop out. Early stage exclusivity is not required.

The panel then took questions from the audience on topics such as EBITA, evaluations, capital structures, personal guarantees and varying types of risks and ESOPs.

Their final tips:

Fitzgerald: There is a lot of capital available and many options for entrepreneurs. Explore those and don’t limit yourself and find the right partner.

Lubin: Loans are repaid by people. Get to know your banker or finance source.

Lucas: Diversify your product lines and customer mix.

Koenig: Think long term. Determine what is your core business and then decisions will fall into place.

To learn more about the panelists, see

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