HIGH POINT, N.C. and LAS VEGAS, April 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Officials with International Market Centers, L.P. (IMC), the world's largest business platform for three complementary industries that represent $200 billion in annual spending, 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 decor and gift industries, the initiatives' conclusions coincide with the lead up to this month's 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-million-dollar 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 percent 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 market.
"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. 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," said Maricich.
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 decor 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," said Maricich. "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 percent of furniture buyers shop multiple categories and 70 percent of gift/home decor buyers shop multiple categories.
Perhaps most telling: 80 percent of buyers shop four days or less and 58 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 also 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 (COO), 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 Vice President at GLM, 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.
About International Market Centers, L.P.
International Market Centers, L.P. (IMC) is the world's largest operator of premier showroom space for the furnishings, home decor and gift industries. IMC owns and operates 11.5 million square feet of world-class exhibition space in High Point, N.C., and Las Vegas. In addition, IMC operates the Las Vegas Design Center, a year-round resource open to both the design trade and consumers that is comprised of more than 40 showrooms and hundreds of designer brands. IMC's mission is to build and operate an innovative, sustainable, profitable and scalable platform for the furnishings, home decor and gift industries. For more information on IMC, visit www.imcenters.com.
SOURCE International Market Centers, L.P.