LAS VEGAS —
The major appliance trade has largely taken a pass on this month’s Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS).
Once the premier showcase for white-goods makers, the event has steadily lost majap industry support over the last four years as high costs, low attendance and competitive venues took their toll.
This month’s roster of majap exhibitors has dwindled to 12, led by Dacor, a California maker of premium kitchen appliances, and Equator, a Texas company known for its compact laundry and kitchen products.
The balance of the exhibitors is small, niche manufacturers such as American Range, Arda Appliances, Five- Star Range and Summit, and China-based factory exporters including Chinabest and Wuxi Little Swan.
K/BIS began losing support in 2007 when Whirlpool and Electrolux sat out the show and GE limited its presence to its premium Monogram line. Electrolux returned with its own booth for the last time in 2008, and for the past two years Whirlpool had been represented there solely by its premium Jenn-Air brand. Other leading majap vendors including LG have often opted in recent years to meet with customers at more cost-effective offsite facilities.
Also sitting out this year’s show is Sears Kenmore, whose last exhibit, in 2009, piggybacked BSH, Electrolux and Samsung.
Both Sears and Whirlpool have since opened their own showrooms in Chicago, and both companies, along with GE, Haier, LG and Samsung, will likely show their whitegoods wares again at International CES, following the first major majap showing there in January.
Other alternate venues include the Architectural Digest Home Design Show, held each March in New York, where premium appliance distributor Eastern Marketing commanded a 50-foot booth last month near exhibits by Miele and Sub-Zero. “It’s a good show for us,” Eastern president Marty Friedman noted. “Apparently the designers and architects and high-end buyers think that this is their replacement for K/BIS, which is failing.”
For its part, long-time K/BIS exhibitor Dacor has not ruled out the possibility of attending CES in the future, a spokesperson said, but the company “really likes getting in front of designers and specifiers and K/BIS is the best place to do that.”
Ironically, this year’s K/BIS returns to the Las Vegas Convention Center, home of CES, April 26-28.