By Louis Iannaco
Volume 26/Number 20; February 18/25, 2013
(Second of two parts)
Carpet mills exhibiting at Surfaces 2013 witnessed genuine excitement from attendees resulting from the many new products that were offered as well as their own expectations toward what the rest of the year may bring regarding sales and profits. Attendees found carpet mills offering bolder colors, more textures and patterns, three-dimensional looks and an ever-increasing number of soft products.
The hit of the show for the company was its Creations collection featuring the mill’s new million-point product in earth tones, according to Steve Codella, executive vice president. “In rugs we call it Marina. In broadloom we call it Ibiza, St. Tropez and Capri.” Also successful were Holden and Stonington, two wool/sisal woven offerings, and Jackson, a wool/viscose 50/50 blend Wilton loop product. “The response to the new products has been great. Attendees were pleased to see some fresh looks. Now that traffic is picking up in their stores, dealers are going to have something new to show people.”
Astin Springtime, a Wilton woven of 100% wool in a flatwoven construction, also received positive reviews. The stain-resistant, non-allergenic collection is stocked in 13-foot x 2-inch rolls. Also new to Couristan’s Purity brand of eco-friendly residential broadloom is the Balsa collection, which features an Axeminster woven cut-pile surface and an undyed natural wool construction.
“They didn’t come looking for anything specific,” Codella said of the booth’s visitors. “They came in shopping for fresh, new ideas and colors. The consumer who buys our product is looking for a fashion statement, for style and color.”
The buzz for Dixie was about Stainmaster TruSoft, SolarMax and the unique things the mill found it can do with these products. “With our three brands (Dixie, Fabrica and Masland), we’ve once again invested in unique and differentiated products, and I believe that is what our customer is looking for,” said Dan Phelan, vice president of marketing.
Among the new products for Dixie Home were several additions to its Lifestyles collection, which features a combination of solution-dyed PET products and Stainmaster offerings, as well as several debuts in the Authentic Living collection. One of the hottest items at Surfaces for Dixie was Tranquil Moment, a solution-dyed PET BCF offering. “It comes with a striated effect that is very popular within the Dixie Home line,” Phelan said. “We’re adding extreme value to it with some very aggressive price points for stocking dealers and for cut-order as well.”
In its Fabrica brand, Dixie continued to expand its New Zealand wool offerings as its custom Permaset wool program added Collage, which includes eight custom patterns. And Masland features 15 new nylon offerings as well as six new wool products.
John Sheffield, vice president, North America, told FCNews day two was very busy from start to finish. “Our new products have been well received as people have been ordering them. That’s a good sign; things seem to be turning a little bit.”
PET products introduced in 2012 exceeded expectations, prompting Godfrey Hirst to expand its easyliving@home collection of Spectral solution-dyed PET that is made in the U.S. “We’re doing some very creative things from a styling standpoint with solution dyed polyester,” Sheffield said. “We’re producing solids, tip shears and multi-colors. We also recolored all of our Merino wool items. People responded well to the tinted grays and more subtle colors.”
Castine is a product that appears handmade and is also available in a cut loop offering. Edisto and Sante, the mill’s new three-color products, feature a mosaic look that can be used throughout the home. “These three seem to be creating the most interest at the show. We launched this program in July 2012 and every month its sales have increased.”
Innovation was the key word for Joy Carpets as Andrew Dobosh, vice president, expressed his joy with the attention the company received. “Last year was actually the best year we’ve ever had, and we started off 2013 with a really successful show here at Surfaces. We’ve actually written more business than we did at last year’s show.”
For Dobosh, the mood of the attendees was key. “Everyone I talked to seemed extremely sharp and ready to go out and get business. I believe there’s been a ‘weeding out’ over the past few years, because some dealers just weren’t quite up to par. All the dealers who came in have been ready to get to work.”
With Joy being so diverse and able to produce many different patterns, it was difficult to say what attendees were gravitating toward, he noted. “However, we had a big release in modular carpet tile this year and everybody really seems to be in tune with that. When it comes to hospitality and commercial flooring, which is a lot of what we do, the modular product just makes so much sense.”
The company’s newest line, a fluorescent-dyed modular carpet called Neon Lights, is an industry first. “Fluorescent-dyed carpet is something that has been in the industry for years. However, this fluorescent-dyed modular line has never been done before.” Neon Lights is designed for commercial amusement facilities and family entertainment centers. The designs combine fluorescent colors with durability and a state-of-the-art cushioned backing system, StayTac, which, according to Dobosh, “creates one of the most innovative and unique floor coverings available.”
For J. Mish, its newest direction in styling has been in contrast level in luster. “We’ve been using a wool and sateen nylon to create this,” said Don Karlin, vice president, sales/marketing. “It’s a trend that began in area rugs with a woolen background and a silk bind running through it. The contrast levels were key, and now it has translated itself into broadloom. Importers are using wool and viscose, which looks and feels like silk. However, it doesn’t perform well. We create the shine using a sateen nylon and wool and have created an interesting niche for our company that we’ve expanded with two new products.” Tivoli and Manor Court both come in six colors.
The other area on which the mill has been concentrating is a value story. “This is a wool/polyester blend made, tufted and spun in the U.S. I don’t know of another blended wool [at Surfaces] made in the U.S. We may have the only one and it creates as much value as importing it from overseas. It has received a terrific response.”
The mill also debuted Lauren, a linear look in an updated color line. Constructed of New Zealand wool, the collection utilizes an exclusive tufting technology that allows for a width-wise ribbed effect normally found in woven products.
Lexmark’s introductions, all LCL styles tufted in the company’s proprietary 100% solution-dyed Primus PET DuraSoft fiber, were true to the company’s roots. “We started at this time last year with the introduction of our new residential line, which is doing extremely well,” said district sales manager Gordon Faison. “Most people like it because it’s a complete line and we also have products unique to the industry.
“Our color line is a solid one,” he explained. “It’s not 50 colors, but it has everything you need. We came out with some promotional products in order to service the housing industry and property management segment. People coming in have been gravitating to our LCLs, which are extremely popular right now. Our enhanced berbers are also very popular, as are our cut pile friezes and saxony offerings.”
The company recently added three products to its hospitality/commercial line, which did well at the show, Faison noted. “No other mill has the colorations in hospitality like we do. They’re totally unique and really vibrant. The main thing that sets us apart from everybody else is our colors. They are fashionable colors that today’s designers want.”
Susan Curtis, the mill’s new vice president of product/marketing development, updated FCNews on the company’s rebranding initiative. “We’re still in the process of rolling out changes. Our graphics are really targeting the female consumer with very fresh, forward-looking graphics.”
Among the products Phenix launched at this market was SureSoft, a soft polyester two-ply product that features a beautiful finish. “We’re really trying to achieve the entire aesthetic at a value proposition,” Curtis said. “What we offer is a beautiful hand and finish as well as color in an attractive palette.” The mill launched three products: Foot-loose, Fancy Free and Footsies. Footloose is a 45-ounce, while Fancy Free is a 65-ounce product. They are available in 32 colors. Footsies features a little tighter construction, a little denser, at a 55-ounce weight. “It’s a color line that is shared, but they have unique colors to them as well.”
The company also featured another product collection called Retreat, a solution-dyed polyester. “We are offering Retreat in two separate constructions: One a more loose casual and the other a dense tight construction. We offer each of those in three weights so it ends up being six total products. We have 27 colors available in all six of the selections, so it is a very robust program.”
As Curtis noted, the colorway ranges from autumnal tones to fleck multi-colors and is evocative of natural stone looks. “We’re looking to expand beyond the beige world and develop products that people can use to fill their rooms and environments with fashion.”
Peter Feldman, president, said Surfaces went very well for the mill. “We’re in the rug business, and the addition of our broadloom introductions helps create some excitement. We found there was plenty of business to be done, especially in the mid- to high-end product range, which is all we really do. The buyers are here and they’re buying. The people who aren’t showing up are the middle-of-the-road carpet people.”
He noted people are looking for texture and color, “not so much in the naturals but they’re certainly open to a little pizzazz and color statements. Our Missoni broadloom line is always well received, and we also showed the Rodeo collection of handmade custom carpets this year under our umbrella.” In the Missoni line there were nine new products, while Rodeo represented a new presentation featuring about 60 items.”
Jonathan Cohen, COO, said people have come to buy and update their product lines and inventory. “They’re looking for new and different items featuring colors and state-of-the-art techniques.”
New offerings in the Stanton booth featured several styles in the mill’s Atelier collection of patterned printed carpet, including Nautilus, Rosetti and New-ton, all constructed of 100% nylon, as well as additions to the Karaman collection of 100% woven wool products featuring ovals, contemporary diamond patterns and traditional damask designs. The Chesapeake collection also saw updates with a combination of overlaying geometrics and animal designs, including the maze-like pattern called Creed and the modernistic animal pattern, Talia.
There were also several new patterns added to the mill’s Rosecore line, including new colors and styles in Simplicity, Clifford Stripe & Rockleigh, Mesa Cruz and Metropolis Geo.
Antrim, Stanton’s hand woven wool line, and its Royal Dutch brand also had styles added, including Sumatra and Synergy to Antrim, and the Lake and Rave collections to Royal Dutch.
Additionally, Stanton reintroduced its 2016 Elite display at the show. The two-unit display features a wood grain finish to match the mill’s Atelier display. Newly designed columns include a more visible side view, while the newly designed row lighting features more light with less heat. One Elite display now includes two units containing 140 pins (70 each unit) for the ultimate in flexible layout.
For 2013, Royal Dutch has redesigned its display, now called the Royal Showcase 2016. The display features a wide staircase at the bottom to showcase the fact that many of the products on the unit have coordinating runners. This new feature is designed to capture additional runner sales. The new unit can display over 100 products and nearly 800 SKUs.