Hooker Furniture H Contract is near break even.
Hooker Furniture H Contract is near break even.

MARTINSVILLE, VA -- Hooker Furniture (Nasdaq:HOFT) net income junped almost 32 percent as sales rose 9 percent to $61.4 million in the first quarter, driven primarily by higher sales in the casegoods segment.

"We're gratified to see casegoods growing again," said Paul B. Toms Jr., chairman and CEO. Casegoods was up 10.1 percent; upholstery sales rose 7.3 percent. Casegoods accounted for nearly one-third of operating profit gains, Toms said in announcing the earnings. 

"While upholstery sales have grown faster than casegoods sales over the last few years, we're seeing indications of a recovery in casegoods sales and improved retailer ability to sell large-ticket bedroom, dining and home office furniture."

Tom's said container-direct shipments to retailers from Hooker's Asia warehouse helped, especially a new program that allows more flexiblity in selection of items to be placed in a container. "Retailers are also more comfortable committing to the larger container purchases when they don't have to buy as deep on any particular item," he said.

Hooker's new business ventures, H Contract and Homeware, reported operating losses for the quarter of $357,000. H Contract, which offers upholstered seating and casegoods to upscale senior living facilities, is now near break-even. Homeware, an online-only, direct-to-consumer brand of furnishings and home décor, "continues to have operating losses, but is operating close to expectations as we continue to invest in marketing to build brand awareness," Toms said. Homeware ready-to-assemble upholstered chair product development was the subject of a presentation at the 2014 wood industry Executive Briefing Conference in April on 3D printing in wood products manufacture.

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